Music from behind the former Iron Curtain

I go to this part of the world a lot for work, and lived in Hungary for a little while, and I’m generally interested in the social history. I know there’s quite a few people on this site who are in a similar boat, like @AQOS

How repressive/censorious the regimes were before 1989 seriously varies- from Hungary’s “Goulash Communism” of the 70s and 80s which basically boiled down to “yeah sure Russia, yep, sure, we’re doing exactly what you say? No, this isn’t Italian Coca-Cola with different labels stuck on, no way, definitely Hungarian Comrade Cola” to Albania only allowing Norman Wisdom on tv.


this banger should’ve easily been a hit everywhere

to a lesser extent also


No 1- Viktor Tsoi and Kino

Pretty much everyone in every Russian-speaking country knows Viktor Tsoi. He really trod the line of writing songs that criticised the regime without getting in too bad official trouble (helped by Glasnost) and then died a few months after the Berlin Wall came down in a road accident. Kind of an 80s Russian-Korean Bob Dylan meets Kurt Cobain.

At the start of his career he kept getting in trouble for writing lyrics like “this train’s not going anywhere I want to go” but towards the end of the 80s he was allowed to get away with things like “WE NEED CHANGE”

This one means close the door behind me, I’m leaving- really well known 80s Russian song
This site with song lyrics and translations is really great for learning Russian

Also from a Russian crime drama that had loads of interludes of Russian New Wave bands doing performances. Kino get booked to play restaurant gigs at a spa, but when they arrive the manager tells them they’re not actually properly qualified to be musicians, and they just start the gig anyway with no audience.


I love this ultra 80s jazz goth video she did


I didn’t know she did english language songs too! Incredible stuff :smiley:

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A current thing from Russia that will be up your street if you haven’t heard it already:

Buerak- post-punk band from Novosibirsk


I read about these guys in Anna Funder’s excellent Stasiland:

They existed until they were told they didn’t exist anymore (of which there’s a recording). I can’t remember which one I heard but one of their early albums is pretty good.

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Also enjoying Artyom Cherepanov’s teardrop bass here- I think it’s made by Vox?

Yeah, this is really cool!

I can never figure out from their music videos if the blonde guy is really small, or if the dark haired guy is really huge.

80s synthpop from Russia (the Youtube channel it’s from has loads of great stuff)

I’d agree it’s really interesting. You hear great stories of secret gigs and the like.


Interesting Russian band - 80s punk which soon took on more influences. Home recordings of course and i believe he was put in an asylum by the kgb before getting out and releasing more. I can’t claim to be an expert but the following is a good album, and the one the other track is from.

lyrics on this one which helps unless you know Russian anyway :slight_smile:

Some east germans - don’t know much except they weren’t allowed to play at the time of this due to having no license to perform…

Wartburgs for Walter

mid 80’s Czech punk which i don’t know a lot about

Czech prog folk which is pretty interesting.

Classic polish punk/hardcore

and more polish stuff here:


enjoyed this

I know lots of the bands had two sets- the one for public gigs that had had the songs approved by censors, and the one for house parties where you knew all the people there.

yeah it’s crazy. They would have to pretend to be a function band to get gigs!

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Hah yeah I think that’s what the joke is in the Kino music video I posted above- them turning up at the holiday resort to have their cvs scrutinised by the manager before the gig


At one time I lived in Hungary and was teaching English there. My Hungarian coworker invited me to a boat party on the Danube, without mentioning that it was a karaoke party of the greatest Hungarian hits of the 70s and 80s. I got out of doing any songs on the accepted grounds that I had never heard 80-90% of them before, and even the ones I had heard would have been bad because Hungarian has lots of words that sound very similar but have embarrassingly different meanings along the lines of shit and sheet.

People tried to get me in on this Duran Duran type new wave banger about how he dreams of going on safari but it’s probably never gonna happen (that you hear everywhere on the radio in Hungary), the chorus is just a list of animals. I’m so, so glad I didn’t join in though, because there turns out to be a creepy pretty racist verse about creeping on the local women. I’m not gonna post the official video either, because it’s an 80s Hungarian who’s never been anywhere’s idea of appropriate about portraying Africa. (You can imagine…)

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Here’s a Hungarian song I really like that has no dodgy content. 80s artschool fuzzy weirdness, with a band name that’s a deliberate weird mangling of a Hungarian cultural prize. The chorus is “I’d like to share my deranged loneliness with you darling” Tébolyult magányom megosztanám veled
kedves. (Hungarian friend who introduced me to this band sent me lyrics with translation)

Кино are great and Кукушка is an all-time heartbreaker. Nicholas Krgovich dropped it in a between-sets playlist at a Tin Angel Records gig in Coventry and I almost greeted on the spot.

Who’s up for some slinky folk-funk rock from the БССР?

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