Tough Times Being a Beatle Fan in Soviet-era Russia

The topic of Beatles collecting and fandom in Soviet-era Russia has been explored on the web of late.

Andrey, a long-time friend of our page, alerted us to this comprehensive article recently posted (in Russian) on the site.

If you don’t read Cyrillic writing (and we don’t!), then Andrey has provided a link to a video in English on the very same topic:

Bottom line is that you had to be tough to be a Beatle fan in public in the late 1960’s/early 1970s. The Soviet secret service, the KGB, came down very hard on any young people who dared to say they “….loved Lennon more than Lenin”.

Their lives could – and were – turned upside down. Indeed, in the example cited where a group in the Ukraine turned out on the street to celebrate something as innocuous as Paul McCartney’s birthday, seven people were arrested and sentenced to 15 days jail for “disturbing public order”.

In addition, six were expelled from their university studies and from the Young Communist League – the latter almost certainly guaranteeing their failure in any future career. Younger high school students were forced to repeat whole years of study. There were ramifications also for their parents who were publicly humiliated in the Soviet media.

While we were pondering all this and how much we in the West take our freedoms for granted, we also stumbled upon this great video on a closely related subject. Its just been uploaded on the Parlogram Auctions YouTube Channel and is a study on how Beatle fans in the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain listened to The Beatles – including the spooky “music on bones” records we’ve written about before.

Russian Fake Beatle Records and Sleeves Exposed

If you collect Beatle discs from around the world then the Russian Beatle site is a goldmine of information for records from that country:

Alongside their already impressive catalogue and detail about every official Beatle and solo release in that country, they’ve just added a massive new section on fake pressings and sleeves:










As usual, the detail and depth of their research and knowledge is first-rate. We’ve used it extensively to research our collection of different pressings of Paul McCartney’s Choba B CCCP for example (see here, and here).

The site is in Russian and English, and alongside all the local releases (both official and fake) it contains a comprehensive and up-to-date general catalogue of every Beatle and solo release from the UK/EU, and the US, plus a whole section on Apple Records as well.

There’s also a big section on Beatle cover versions over the years by Russian artists.

Comprehensive New Russian Beatles Books Released

We have a lot of Russian readers and so it’s appropriate to mention what looks like a very comprehensive, two-volume Beatles book published recently in Russia.

Earlier this year Vladimir Bokarev and Yury Mitrofanov released the two-volume book called ИСТОРИЯ “БИТЛЗ” В СССР (1964-1970 гг). That translates as The History of the Beatles in the USSR (1964-1970). Here’s the cover of Volume One:Том1

And here’s Volume Two:


These publications form a forensic, historical research of the Beatles as a phenomenon in Soviet society. Through examining numerous historical sources the authors show the evolution and rise of the popularity of the Beatles in the Soviet press, Beatle art in the Soviet Union (for example through their records, printed music, lyrics and translations, concert performances by other artists, films, etc.), and the influence of the Beatles on Soviet youth.

Record images and other items shown in the books come from the collections of Andrey Lukanin (Russia), and Vadim Legkokonets (Ukraine). As well there’s a wealth of information provided from these two great websites:

To order this set of two books (published only in Russian) write to

The authors plan to continue the work and publish a further book on the same theme – but about the years 1971-1980.

Abbey Road – Cover Inspiration?

Last month saw the 45th anniversary of the day the famous Abbey Road cover photo was taken. An interesting image has been sent to us by Beatles Blog reader Andrey (the dedicated Beatles collector and expert in Russia):xC1TYlrV_JcAndrey says it was taken at the turn of the 20th century – in the Russian city of Yeysk on Chernomorskaya Road (Black Sea Road)! Could Paul McCartney (who had the initial idea for the Abbey Road album cover) or photographer Iain Macmillan possibly have seen this archival photo and used it as their inspiration? Probably not – but it’s fun to dream…..

By the way, Andrey helps to keep this fantastic site up-to-date. It is an absolutely comprehensive guide to all the Beatles‘ Russian vinyl releases.

Russian collectors have also just launched a new special site which gathers together all the early Soviet press about the Beatles

As usual it’s a thoroughly researched site. So far only the years 1964-1971 are ready but Andrey recommends a look at this chapter on all the printed music which has been released in his country. It details everything he has found so far. The very first edition is from the Soviet Estonia. Andrey’s research on the song “Yesterday” is here (complete with videos).


Two Recent Russian Beatle Releases

Got an email the other day from friend Andrey in the Russian Federation letting me know about two recent Russian Beatles releases I hadn’t heard of:DOK_326_Aaa

DOK_326_BaaThey are both on the Doxy label. The first is The Decca Tapes [MiruMir Music Publishing / Doxy DOK326] which is on 180 gram vinyl and comes with a bonus CD of the same title, contents and catalogue number. There’s an additional plastic bag for the CD – inside the cover. It was released on March 14, 2013.DOY011_BOX-AssDOY011_BOX-BssThe second (above) is 1958-1962 [MiruMir Music Publishing / Doxy DOY011]. This one comes as a box set, complete with clear vinyl, a 20-page LP-size booklet and a 6-page A4-size replica of the original “Love Me Do” press-release. It is a limited edition of 1000 copies and was released on May 30, 2013

These can be found on Amazon or Ebay. They’re also available at the Music Direct site.

Andrey provided a little bit of background information about the MiruMir company. MiruMir in Russian is written as МируМир. This, says Andrey, is an old Soviet slogan which means “Peace To The World”. You can find the Moscow-based label on two websites and, and they have a Facebook site.

MiruMir release a lot of LPs by Russian and ex-Soviet artists, plus the Doxy label (not to be confused with Sonny Rollins’ label of the same name) release a very wide range of other artists from around the world.

Actually, in researching all this I discovered another Russian Beatles LP that looks like it comes from the same series as The Decca Tapes – only this time it’s a release on Lilith Records, another subsidiary of MiruMir:

Savage Young BeatlesThis pressing of The Savage Young Beatles [LR305] was released in 2010. It is also a 180 gram vinyl and comes with a free bonus CD copy of the same songs. It’s available at the Music Direct site too. According to Discogs, Lilith has been a Russian reissue label since 2004 for mainstream rock albums re-released on vinyl and compact disc for Western markets. The records are manufactured at GZ Digital Media A. S. (Loděnice, Czech Republic). For more on GZ Digital Media see my post “Where “Made in the EU” Vinyl Might be Pressed

If anyone knows anything about the quality of these recordings above please let us know. There are varying opinions out there.

Russian Beatles – Fantastic Website

My post about the many label variations of Paul McCartney’s 1988 Russian album “Choba B CCCP” prompted a response from a reader named Vadim who gave me some links to an absolutely fantastic website that deals specifically with Beatles and Beatles-related releases from the former USSR and Russia.

You can find the site here and, if you’re not careful, it will open up a whole new world of Beatles record collecting to you. I don’t read Russian and so many parts of the site are a mystery – it looks like it has been created by three friends and Beatles fans: Andrey Lukanin, Vadim Legkokonets and Valentin Isaikin, who run something called The Beatles Association. It also appears that The Beatles Association puts out a regular magazine called “From Me To You”. There are links on the Foreword page of the site to download two recent issues.

The site is huge and so comprehensive with details of seemingly every USSR/Russian release and variation – complete with pictures of the covers, labels, catalogue numbers and heaps of other fascinating information for the collector. It is truly mind-blowing and well worth a look. Put aside some time – you’ll need it to have a good look around. Once you figure out how the site is constructed and linked you can delve into more and more detail about individual releases.

It got me thinking about other Russian releases I have in my own collection – apart from the McCartneyChoba B CCCP” ones. I had a bit of a look and found these (and I must say its very meagre compared to Vadim’s treasures). The first is “A Hard Days Night”. This is on EMI/Melodiya and comes in a single sleeve with a plastic inner. It has one less track than the British release. Its also stated that this is a “Direct Metal Mastered” pressing and it has a small official DMM logo on the rear cover:

[You can see the exhaustive details for this pressing on the amazing Russian Vinyl records site here. It looks like my copy is pressed at the Riga pressing plant.]

Then comes “Help”. This is on AnTrop Records from St Petersburg, and has a plain white paper inner sleeve:

[You can see the exhaustive details for this pressing on the amazing Russian Vinyl records site here. It looks like my copy came out in 1991 and is sleeve and label Variation 2.]

Also on AnTrop Records is “Let It Be”. This comes in a single, quite thin, cardboard sleeve with a plain white paper inner sleeve:

[You can see the exhaustive details for this pressing on the amazing Russian Vinyl records site here.  This was released in 1992 and is sleeve Variation b., and label Variation 2.]

There are more “Let It Be” label variations on my site here.

The final Russian Beatles pressing I have is a unique compilation of early material called “A Taste of Honey” (1986). It is on the Melodiya label (and there’s also an EMI logo on the front cover). This is another “Direct Metal Mastered” pressing and it has an official DMM logo on the rear cover. Its in a single sleeve and a plain white inner bag:

[You can see the exhaustive details for this pressing on the amazing Russian Vinyl records site here and here. It looks like my copy is pressed at the Riga pressing plant.]

There is one other in my collection. Its Paul McCartney – “Flowers in the Dirt” (1989). This is on the white Melodiya label and has a plastic inner bag:

[You can see the exhaustive details for this pressing on the amazing Russian Vinyl records site here. It was pressed in 1991, and it looks like my copy was manufactured at the Aprelevka pressing plant, with sleeve variation 1d., and label variation White 2.]

Finally, in my post about different versions of Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” from around the world there were two on Russian labels – the first a Melodiya pressing, the second from Santa Records: