Forget California, swinging sixties London or the Paris riots for a moment, Estonian filmmaker Terje Toomistu joins us to talk about the hippie movement of the Soviet Union.
It had all the characteristics of Western hippiedom: long hair, groovy music, esoteric spirituality and drugs. The only thing missing perhaps was the radical public politics that would have pushed the repressive Soviet authorities into drastic, brutal action
Terji’s film, with its super groovy soundtrack of rare tunes, provides a fascinating glimpse into a moving, daring subculture that flourished east of the Iron Curtain.
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We tell the story of the music fans and bootleggers who ran the risks of imprisonment to defy the Soviet censor for the sake of the songs they loved.
We learn how they made records of forbidden tunes by building home-made recording machines and re-purposing x-rays illegally obtained from Soviet hospitals.
We hear how they did it with selections of music drawn from various x-ray records and hear the words of a surviving bootlegger - and we explore what it actually takes to cut music onto x-ray film.
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We meet with film director Olivia Litchenstein and BBC Russian Arts presenter Alexander Kan to hear about the extraordinary musician Sergey Kuryokhin, ‘the Soviet Punk Frank Zappa’ who with his underground cohorts in Leningrad tried to soundtrack perestroika as the cold war crumbled around them.
Olivia tells of the strange circumstances of the making of the BBC TV series Comrades during the twilight of the Soviet Empire, with tales of tapes smuggled in diplomatic bags and a bizarre intervention by Ronald Reagan.
Alex tells of his friendship with Kuryokhin, an incredibly talented, charming musical provocateur whose live performances astonished Russian audiences. And we learn of the bizarre prank Kuryokhin played on National TV claiming Lenin was a magic mushroom, just one of many dadaist interventions he made before his tragically early death.
The Comrades program featuring Sergey Kuryokhin: https://youtu.be/ibY2lXdgdnM
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This Episode explore three stories of cold war era radio in the USSR: Soviet Radio Jammers, the Russian ‘Woodpecker’ and the Soviet Radio Hooligans
We meet with Russian broadcaster Vladimir Raevsky to talk about radio jamming in cold war era Soviet Union.
As East and West super powers square up to each with nuclear weapons, a parallel invisible war is being fought in the airwaves.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on broadcasting propaganda and music into the Soviet Union - and on attempting to block them from being heard.
Stephen tells the strange story of the ‘Russian Woodpecker’, a dystopian broadcasting station near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and alleged attempts to brainwash the West using radar.
BBC Russian Arts correspondant Alex Kan, sits in a London cafe and tells of the brave young ‘Radio hooligans' who broadcast their own individual pirate radio shows during his youth in the USSR.
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