The Soviet Union first made every effort to combat Western cultural influence. That challenge dramatically worsened in the spring of 1964, when Beatlemania swept the communist bloc. Rock music alarmed the Soviet Union because it posed a danger to overturn the political order.
The Union’s power was weakened and the West was humanized as a result of popular music’s capacity to penetrate official bureaucracy, making communism much more difficult to market. A generation was turned off to communist principles by the rock & roll bands The Beatles, Cream, and Led Zeppelin, which ignited a psychological revolution.
Soviet authorities immediately began to eliminate the danger. Police officers disrupted rock concerts, rounded up long-haired kids and made them shave their heads, and locked up rock stars for offenses ranging from tax fraud to political treason. For instance, anyone who wished to listen to Led Zeppelin’s music had no choice except to obtain it illegally. For a while, illicit LP pressing and the creation of phony album covers like the ones below were common practices in the black market distribution of music.
Zingo-spleen, a Reddit member, was nice enough to submit several images of album covers made for unauthorized Led Zeppelin pressings. Led Zeppelin II, III, IV, and Houses of The Holy, which was titled V in Russia, are represented by the artwork. “zingo-spleen” wrote about the records’ history in the following manner: “These are two double albums in gatefold sleeves, with a cover on each side. II and III are together as a set, while IV and V (Houses of the Holy) are together as a set. Not sure why the first one is not included – blame the Russians and their twisted logic. I found these in a thrift shop a long time ago and couldn’t bear to get rid of them, even though I’ve had offers.”
AnTrop, an underground record label founded by Russian producer and sound engineer Audrey Tropillo, who took over as CEO of Petersberg’s Melodia in 1990, released the pressings. Perestroika, a time of political turmoil in Russia, was in effect at the time. “Since there was much turmoil in Russia at the time,” zingo-spleen continued. “He made the St. Petersburg branch independent of central headquarters and started releasing a series of classic rock albums. These releases were not legitimate.”
(Credit: Reddit / zingo-spleen)