When music lovers want it, they’ll do
whatever they have to do to get it.
The above photo is of a recording of the St. Louis Blues, which was played on a re-purposed X-ray of a human skull.
The authorities tried to stop this unauthorized Soviet recording technology, called roentgenizdat, which was a way for people to spread banned music.
A Soviet record player
Roentgenizdat was a word created by combining the words "roentgen", as in X-rays, and "samizdat", the name for unauthorized, self-published Soviet underground literature:
Owing to the lack of recordings of Western music available in the USSR, people had to rely on records coming through Eastern Europe, where controls on records were less strict, or on the tiny influx of records from beyond the iron curtain. Such restrictions meant the number of recordings would remain small and precious. But enterprising young people with technical skills learned to duplicate records with a converted phonograph that would "press" a record using a very unusual material for the purpose; discarded x-ray plates. This material was both plentiful and cheap, and millions of duplications of Western and Soviet groups were made and distributed by an underground roentgenizdat, or x-ray press, which is akin to the samizdat that was the notorious tradition of self-publication among banned writers in the USSR. According to rock historian Troitsky, the one-sided x-ray disks costed about one to one and a half rubles each on the black market, and lasted only a few months, as opposed to around five rubles for a two-sided vinyl disk. By the late 50’s, the officials knew about the roentgenizdat, and made it illegal in 1958. Officials took action to break up the largest ring in 1959, sending the leaders to prison, beginning an organization by the Komsomol of "music patrols" that later undertook to curtail illegal music activity all over the country.
From the paper "The Historical Political Development of Soviet Rock Music" by Trey Drake. (Used to be available online, but link is dead.)
– Roentgenizdat, Sentimental Songs on X-ray, Weird Vibrations>>
– Jazz on Bones: X-Ray Sound Recordings, KK, Street Use>>
– Пластинки "на рёбрах" , Livejournal>>