The Cold War seems an awful long time ago, long enough that it’s sometimes hard to remember that a huge percentage of our planet’s land mass was officially denied the right to listen to classic rock. You couldn’t just wander into the USSR with a bunch of Mott the Hoople albums under your arm and expect anyone not to mind, there were actual policies about this. Those people who had heard about and liked Led Zeppelin had to resort to illegal, grassroots ways of disseminating the music, and that process included pressing albums illegally and creating fake, yet plausible, album covers.
In the r/vinyl/ subreddit, reddit user “zingo-spleen” uploaded scans of several awesome album covers that were created for illegal Russian pressings of Led Zeppelin albums. Represented are the band’s second through fifth albums, being II, III, IV, and Houses of the Holy, which is hilariously called V in the Russian version.
Helpfully, “zingo-spleen” provided some background about the fantastic covers:
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.
The record label, AnTrop, was a major force in underground bootlegs, releasing illegal versions of all the most notable classic rock acts:
AnTrop was named after the legendary Russian underground producer and sound engineer, Andrey Tropillo, who in 1990, on the wave of “perestroika,” became the head of the St. Petersburg branch of Melodia. Since there was much turmoil in Russia at the time, he made the St. Petersburg branch independent of central headquarters and started releasing a series of classic Rock albums. These releases were not legitimate. They started with releases by The Beatles, Jesus Christ - Superstar, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and eventually Pink Floyd. All these records were released using Melodia facilities, but AnTrop was operating as an independent record label and was putting the Antrop logo and their own numbers and copyrights on the covers. However, since all the records were printed in Melodia owned and run facilities, AnTrop had to give its releases additional Melodia catalog numbers, which is why there are two catalog numbers on the releases. Antrop is the label that released most of the Pink Floyd albums in Russia. “P” in the AnTrop catalog numbers stands for Russian letter “P” (that looks like Greek “Pi”). AnTrop records were all pressed in Aprelevka.
According to “zingo-spleen,” the quality of the pressings is “really not bad at all ... certainly listenable.”
I think reddit user “arachnophilia” speaks for us all when he says, “oh man, i love aeg threenneauh.”
(Clicking on the images will spawn a larger version.)
Here’s a closer look at that dude on the cover of IV:
Not included in the pics provided by “zingo-spleen” is this Russian edition of Led Zeppelin’s first album I found online:
By the bye, here’s the same deal for Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation.