Imagine a world where undercover cops attend record swaps and concerts — and arrest people for crimes against the government.
In Czechoslovakia, it was a reality.
In our recent “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week” review of the Sex Pistols The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and The Filth and the Fury, we discussed punk — the music, the fashion, and attitude — was an artistic expression of the frustrations of the British working class and unemployed against the stodgy and greedy British class system. In America, with the advent of the Ramones in New York and X in Los Angeles — while it was admittedly less street and more Tribeca and Sherman Oaks — an antithesis subculture to mainstream music arose; a coterie network of fanzines, stores, and club venues to promote the music and the (commercialized, new-waved in America) message.
And those same frustrations — with even greater political and cultural consequences — flourished in the Czechoslovakia.
In this 2016 Czech import, Vinyl Generation chronicles the generation that came of age during Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution — a non-violent transition of power that lasted from November 17 to December 29, 1989 — which signaled the end of communist totalitarianism in Eastern Europe.
As with their late ‘70s British brethren, late ’80s Czech teens used the West’s punk and burgeoning alternative-grunge music to initiate a cultural shift — even if it meant breaking federal laws, as it was illegal to buy or sell Western records and magazines (at swaps held in city parks) or attend underground, unauthorized concerts. Some of those illegal concerts featured Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, Mudhoney*, and Lydia Lunch (Cha Cha), whose never-before-seen concert footage is seen here — at least by U.S. audiences — for the first time.
You can learn more about this Dark Star Pictures release at the film’s official website vinylgeneration.net and official Facebook page. You can begin streaming the film on Amazon Prime and Vudu and on Tubi (as a free-with-ads-stream) on November 26, 2020.
Disclaimer: This was sent to us by the film’s PR company. That has no bearing on our review.
* We explored a wide array of Grunge-era films with our “Exploring: 50 Gen-X Grunge Films.”
There’s also more music-oriented films to be discovered with our “Exploring: Radio Stations on Film” featurette. Other recent rock-docs we’ve reviewed include Suzi Q, Desolation Center, Lo Sound Desert, and CREEM: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.