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Divine joins Bettie Page on iconic Seattle mural
09.08.2016
09:36 am

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I have to say this is one of the many times I’ve been proud to call my transplanted home of the last seventeen-years quite possibly the greatest place on earth. One of my favorite Seattle landmarks (which I drive by on nearly a daily basis) is a home with a giant mural of Bettie Page painted on it. She’s been joined by an equally humongous portrait of Divine all decked out in the famous red dress worn by the great Harris Glenn Milstead in 1972’s Pink Flamingos.
 

“FILTH IS MY LIFE!” The giant mural of Divine that now resides alongside Bettie Page on a house in Northeast Seattle.
 
The mural of a nearly two-story topless Bettie Page (whose naughty bits are obscured by the home’s rain gutters) has been visible from traffic on I-5 in Northeast Seattle for a decade. Then a few months ago some morons who just don’t get it vandalized the much loved mural with gray paint and even took the time to leave a nasty note on the home where the mural resides saying the following: 

AUTONOMOUS SEXUALITY IS EMPOWERMENT. TELLING A WOMAN TO COVER UP IS OPPRESSION.

—SOME FEMINISTS

The message was written entirely in capital letters so I guess the roving gang of confused “feminists” wanted to be sure they knew how angry they were. The good news is that the owner of the house, Jessica Baxter didn’t let the incident get under her skin. And even when donations came piling in so that Baxter didn’t have to take on the expense of having the mural (and her house, mind you) restored, she declined and instead asked that people wanting to donate send their money to RAINN (the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network). So why did Baxter pick Divine to keep Bettie Page company for the long foreseeable future? Here’s one of my favorite residents of Northeast Seattle on that:

Really it’s just people who inspire me and make me happy that they existed, and were individuals who didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought, and who were just themselves. I’m going to feel inspired every time I look at it.

The mural was just finished this past Tuesday by Two Thangs (aka Seattle artist Matthew Brennan IV) and it is nothing short of fucking glorious. Brennan, a self-professed John Waters devotee felt very strongly that the Page and Divine belonged together especially since the vandals who tried to ruin Bettie felt that the image was “exploitive.” According to Brennan (via Two Thangs FB page) the addition of Divine makes a clear statement about choice—specifically making a decision to present yourself “how you choose.” 

I love you Seattle. Never change.
 

The famous Bettie Page mural on the side of a house in Northeast Seattle. 
 
See the defaced Bettie Page mural—and the note left by ‘SOME FEMINISTS’ after the jump…

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That time Jack Kerouac finked out on helping Allen Ginsberg promote ‘Junkie’
09.07.2016
11:42 am

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Books
Drugs
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History

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Allen Ginsberg was a hustler. He was always on the make. But if Ginsberg was getting a piece of the pie then everyone was getting some pie—that was the kind of guy he was.

In 1953, Ginsberg was one of the young writers loosely identified as the Beat Generation. There was Jack Kerouac—nominally the Beat daddio who had his first book The Town and the City published in 1950. It was a coming of age novel that lacked the Beat prosody (“spontaneous prose”) that illuminated Kerouac’s later, better known work.

There was John Clellon Holmes who had written Go—a depiction of the hip counter culture world of parties, drugs, jazz and “the search for experience and for love.”

And then there was William S. Burroughs.

Ginsberg had encouraged Burroughs to write. He grooved over the letters he wrote—he dug his style. He told Burroughs to write a book about his experiences as an unrepentant drug addict. Nelson Algren had already written and had published his tale of heroin addiction The Man with the Golden Arm in 1949. The book received rave reviews and won Algren a National Book Award. Ginsberg figured Burroughs—an actual junkie—could deliver a better, more powerful book if only he would sit down and write it.

Burroughs grudgingly took the advice. He had already co-authored an as yet unpublished novel with Kerouac And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks in 1945 about the murder of friend and associate David Kammerer by one of the original Beat gang Lucien Carr. The book had been a literary experiment with Burroughs and Kerouac writing alternate chapters. Now he would give the facts of his life some color in the manner of Thomas De Quincey—writing the semi-autobiographical Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict.

Ginsberg helped edit the book. Then he brought it to Carl Solomon—a publisher contact he’d met at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey where both men received treatment. Solomon’s uncle was publisher A. A. Wyn—owner of the pulp paperback firm Ace Books. Through Ginsberg’s endeavors, Solomon convinced his uncle to publish Burroughs novel—written under the alias “William Lee”—as part of the Ace imprint.
 
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Ginsberg as ‘seen by Burroughs’ on the rooftop of his Lower East apartment, New York, 1953.
 
Kerouac’s reply and Burroughs’ ‘Junkie,’ after the jump…

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Judas Priest’s racy photoshoot with a Penthouse Pet
09.07.2016
09:57 am

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Judas Priest having fun with Penthouse Pet of the Year (1977) Cheryl Rixon in an outtake from a photoshoot for Kerrang! magazine, 1982.
 
I was a hardcore fan of Kerrang! magazine back in the 80s until it ditched its heavy metal roots when bands like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains started stealing the spotlight from my headbanging heroes. But for what seemed like a long time Kerrang! was about as metal as a magazine got and I loved it. So when I came across these images from issue #10 of Kerrang! from February of 1982 of Judas Priest and Penthouse Pet of the Year Cheryl Rixon appearing in a naughty comedic caper titled “What Rock ‘N’ Roll Dreams are Maid Of: Room Service” that featured Rixon dressed as a French maid and the members of Priest acting exactly like what you’d expect the members of Judas Priest to be behaving back in the 80s, I had to share them with you.
 

Rob Halford and Cheryl Rixon.
 
While you might think that the goofy photos went over really well with Kerrang’s readership, you wouldn’t be entirely correct. Apparently the magazine received a number of ‘letters to the editor” complaining about the photo shoot (shot by Steve Joester)  calling it “sexist” and “trashy.” Both words—by my estimation and experience as a lifelong metalhead—that are synonymous with heavy metal in (mostly) all the right ways. Here’s a letter likely written by a mom who after looking through young Johnny’s stack of magazines hidden under his bed decided to tell the magazine off old-school style with a handwritten letter admonishing them for the photos that were corrupting her kids brain:

In one foul swoop Kerrang! has plummeted from being ‘The Times’ of heavy rock to being the ‘Daily Star’. No wonder heavy rock is damned for being sexist if the critics see this sort of trash.

If you just screamed “But trash is my LIFE!” then I’m with you. God, the fucking 80s really were weird times. And while I’m not entirely sure how Halford got his motorcycle inside a hotel I’ve always said that Rob Halford can do anything he wants, really, so I applaud him for coming to Rixon’s “rescue” before KK Downing got first dibs on the Penthouse Pet of 1979. I’m sure many of you will also enjoy the photos of Rixon and Halford (who Rixon says she loved working with back in her modeling days) as they bring you back to a time when nobody for a hot second wondered if Halford was gay (not that it matters one goddamn bit) as he posed next to Rixon clad in leather bondage gear and a whip. 
 

 

 
More mayhem after the jump…

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That time Alice Cooper moved next door to Gene Wilder
09.06.2016
10:20 am

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Alice Cooper and Gene Wilder on the set of the short-lived TV sitcom ‘Something Wilder’ in 1995.
 
After Gene Wilder’s passing last week I’ve been trying to clap my eyes on anything from Wilder’s long cinematic career. I even rewatched 1974’s classic Young Frankenstein even though I could recite lines from that film in my sleep. Today I’m really excited to share with you one of my finds: an episode from Wilder’s sadly short-lived mid-90s sitcom on NBC Something Wilder guest-starring none other than Alice Cooper playing himself as Wilder’s annoying neighbor.
 

Gene Wilder, Alice Cooper and Wilder’s TV wife actress Hilary B. Smith on the set of the fourteenth episode of ‘Something Wilder.’
 
On what would be one of the last Something Wilder shows (the fourteenth episode called “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”) Cooper moves in next door to Wilder’s character “Gene Bergman” and since this is Alice Cooper we’re talking about, things don’t go so well. For Gene.

After being kept up all night listening to the same song being blasted out of Cooper’s windows over and over again Wilder heads over in his adorable plaid robe to see what’s happening. And again, since this is Alice Cooper we’re talking about, Wilder walks in on a wild party that includes a tall red-headed dominatrix, a rat and for some reason a juggler (Now that’s kinky....) After hearing of Wilder’s death, Cooper posted this heartfelt message on his Facebook page about his experience working with one of the greatest screen comedians of our time:

I count working with Gene Wilder on his TV sitcom Something Wilder to be one of the most precious memories of my entire career. Doing ‘one on one’ comedy with Gene was like jamming with the Beatles. It doesn’t get any better. Gene Wilder is IRREPLACEABLE and will always be an American treasure.

I don’t want to give anything else away but if you love the image of Cooper and Wilder at the top of this post, there’s more where that came from. I don’t recall seeing the show myself back in the mid-90s, but seeing it now made my day. Since Something Wilder had such a short run and never really connected with an audience, the show hasn’t made its way to DVD yet.

Watch ‘Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper’ after the jump…

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William Burroughs: Scans of his porn mag articles
09.02.2016
09:50 am

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Humanity’s underrated. It’s one of my tenets. It’s easier to indulge the negative than give press to the creative, the good and the generous. The other day, my colleague Martin Schneider wrote a fine post on William S. Burroughs’ connection with Wilhelm Reich and his orgone box. By its source, Martin’s post reacquainted me with Burroughs writings for porn magazines in the 1960s and 1970s.

Years, ago I had a friend who owned two pristine copies of one these skin mags. He prized these editions not for any titillation but for Burroughs’ articles contained within. I recall one was on Scientology. The other I think was on space travel.

Martin’s link led to a cornucopia of Burroughsian materials. That one individual (Jed Birmingham) has spent so much time carefully sourcing and scanning Burroughs’s adult magazine work for others to read/access/download was another confirmation of humanity’s good points.

Before Graham Masterton was better known as an author of best-selling horror fiction, he was deputy editor of “gentleman’s entertainment magazine” Mayfair. Started in 1965, Mayfair was modeled on the hugely successful Playboy magazine. The canny Masterton wanted Mayfair to be a similar mix of quality writing, top notch interviews and classy erotica. One of the best things Masterton achieved with Mayfair was to commission William Burroughs to write for the magazine.

Masterton had corresponded with Burroughs from the time the Beat writer was living in Tangiers. When Burroughs relocated to London, Masterton visited him in his cramped attic apartment to enquire if he had anything suitable for the pages of Mayfair.

From this meeting in 1967, Burroughs contributed a regular column for Mayfair under the heading “The Burroughs Academy.” The gig allowed Burroughs to write about his personal preoccupations (Scientology, sexuality, mechanisms of media and political control) and test out various ideas (drugs/space travel) in the magazine’s pages between 1967 and 1969. It also supplied him with a steady income so he could write his novels.

Mayfair was primarily sold in the UK. It had a limited circulation which meant most of Burroughs’ fans missed out on his monthly bulletins. They were eventually gathered together in (an equally hard to obtain) edition Mayfair Academy Series More or Less.

But it’s thanks to Jed Birmingham over at the Reality Studios that we can read Burroughs’ articles (though by no means comprehensive) as they were originally published in magazines like Mayfair, Screw, Swank and Wildcat.

Below are scans from Wildcat that published an extract from Burroughs’ novel Junkie, plus an interview from Swank. There are also the first four Burroughs Academy articles and one short story from Mayfair. More can be viewed/downloaded here.
 
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More readable scans of Burroughs’ skin mag articles, after the jump…

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‘Jesus Alone’: Emotional new video from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
09.01.2016
02:42 pm

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Most of us don’t want to change, really. I mean, why should we?

—Nick Cave

This morning I had the pleasure of listening to the powerful new Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds single “Jesus Alone” and if you’ve not heard the six-plus-minute track yet then I highly recommend that you stop what you are doing and not only listen but watch Cave’s delivery of the haunting lyrics while long-time collaborator Warren Ellis commands a small string section. It is both compelling and dark. Two qualities that Cave has developed a deep proficiency for over the course of his long career. 

The single is one of eight new tracks on the upcoming Bad Seeds record Skeleton Tree due out next week on September 9th. Also making its debut next week on September 8th is Cave’s new film that documents the making of Skeleton Tree, One More Time With Feeling that is screening at theaters across the country. If you’ve seen the trailer for the film (which I’ve posted below) then you may know that the music that accompanies the trailer was written by Cave following the heart-wrenching death of his fifteen-year-old son Arthur last year in July. An unimaginable event that no parent should have to endure. The powerful emotions the thought-provoking black and white video sadly conjures come to a head as Cave utters the heartbreaking words:

“With my voice, I am calling you.”

 
Watch the video, after the jump…

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Becoming Bowie: High-end made-to-order ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Aladdin Sane’ costumes!
08.31.2016
03:16 pm

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Space Oddity’ custom-made costume by Wanda Cobar.
 
So if after reading that headline you went running for your credit card (like me) then congratulations—you my friend have good taste and a great sense of adventure just like our dearly departed David.

A lovely and talented individual by the name of Wanda Cobar has created a number of made-to-order costumes based on some of the most memorable stage outfits worn by David Bowie during his time as “Ziggy Stardust” and they are not your average run-of-the-mill “Costume Superstore” type of get ups by any means. Cobar actually made the material herself for the “Space Oddity” jumpsuit (pictured at the top of this post) because she wasn’t satisfied with the conventional offerings available to her and ZOWIE did she nail it. The same goes for Cobar’s fantastic interpretation of Bowie’s little fishnet number with strategically placed lizard hands on the chest. When the original costume attempted to make it’s debut on The Midnight Special (as part of Bowie’s “1980 Floor Show”) it caused quite a stir, as the Dame recalled in 2002:

I did one particular song, can’t remember what it was now but I had a strange kind of string knitted costume made with three hands on. Two of them on my chest, looking like I was being gripped from the back…And a third one on my crotch. I nearly started a riot with the Americans. They said: “Oh we can’t show that, that’s subversive.” We went through hell, so I had to take the hand off my crotch. And then of course they didn’t like the black pouch piece that was down there, that the hand was stitched to…so I had to change all that. So, like the ‘Diamond Dogs’ thing that they airbrushed the dick off, I was having more erasure problems. It followed me all through the Seventies. It’s funny that I can remember the costume and not the song, totally indicative of what the time was like.

I’m pretty sure the price tag on Cobar’s incredible costumes might give you sticker shock—which is understandable as they range in price from $179 to $699 for an one-of-a-kind girlie version of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” suit that comes complete with red wig and gold crown. If for some inexplicable reason Bowie isn’t your thing, Cobar also has a couple of sweet Prince-inspired costumes such as a full-on polka-dot number that the Purple One wore in the late 80s and a pretty cool version of the two-piece number Prince wore on the cover of 1986’s Dream Factory mashed up with the iconic purple suit worn from the 1984 album Purple Rain. Images and links to Corbar’s soon to be super busy Etsy page follow.
 

The ‘Jean-Genie’ costume.
 
More after the jump…

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Ben Wheatley’s amazing storyboards for ‘High Rise’
08.29.2016
11:40 am

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Film director Ben Wheatley tweeted his storyboard drawings for High Rise over the weekend. Based on the dystopian novel by J. G. Ballard, High Rise is a brilliant and astounding movie. Its cinematic quality again confirms Wheatley’s status as one of the most talented and original film directors at work in film today. As a director Wheatley stands in direct lineage to the likes of Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, John Boorman and Stanley Kubrick. He is an auteur of exceptional brilliance.

Wheatley plans his films meticulously. He works in partnership with the multitalented screenwriter/editor Amy Jump—who is also his wife. Before filming, Wheatley storyboards the entire film scene by painstaking scene. As evidenced by the selection of drawings below, Wheatley considers everything from shot size and angle to action and camera moves within a sequence. These storyboards will may make better sense if you have seen High Rise—which I recommend you do. It stars as Tom Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Laing, Jeremy Irons as Anthony Royal, Luke Evans as Richard Wilder, Elisabeth Moss as Helen Wilder, Sienna Miller as Charlotte Melville, and Keeley Hawes as Ann Royal. The film takes place in a luxury tower block (designed by Royal) during the 1970s. The block is split into three class structures—with the poorest at the bottom. As the tenants become removed from the outside world—chaos and violence unfold. High Rise is now available on Blu-ray.

The ever industrious Wheatley has just finished his latest film Freefire which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month. Freefire is “a real time shootout” action thriller starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer. Martin Scorsese is the executive producer and I, for one, am certainly looking forward to that…
 
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Ben Wheatley director selfie on the set of ‘High Rise.’
 
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Laing finds Digby the Dog.
 
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Morning.
 
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Morning—High Rise.
 
The rest of Ben Wheatley’s storyboards for ‘High Rise,’ after the jump…

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Never mind the Shatner, the ‘Star Trek’ cast member with the golden voice was Nichelle Nichols


 
May the gods eternally bless Rhino Records for so many reasons, but one of that label’s greatest contributions to weird society was the Golden Throats series of compilation albums. It endeavored—and largely succeeded—at bringing wide attention to one of my favorite vinyl collectibles sub-obsessions: celebrities not known for singing who nonetheless and against all reason recorded albums on which they sang, often very, very poorly. Adding to the kitsch appeal of the phenomenon, these albums were usually lounge or easy listening, and were often recorded in total earnest.

Notably, key Star Trek cast members William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were disproportionally represented on those Rhino comps, appearing on all four installments in the series, and scoring four tracks between them on the first one alone. Shatner’s stilted cover songs have become legendary on the basis of just one completely bonkers album, 1968’s The Transformed Man which manages to be a major head-trip both intentionally AND accidentally. Nimoy released about a half-dozen musical albums, a couple of which are Trek themed affairs on which he sometimes sings in-character as Spock, which have moments that approach the outsidery awesomeness of the Shatner LP. The rest are straightforward folk-pop albums, which are unironically not half bad at all.
 

 
Sadly, DeForest Kelley never made a musical LP, so it’s impossible to collect a complete discography of Trek’s archetypal Freudian trio. HOWEVER, there was more music to be found on the bridge: the recordings of Nichelle “Lt. Uhura” Nichols were totally neglected by Rhino when they assembled the Golden Throats comps (probably because she was actually really good). Between 1967 and 1991, she released three full lengths (sort of), two 7” singles, and an EP. Before she blazed a massively important trail for non-servile representation of African-American women on broadcast TV, Nichols sang with both Duke Ellington’s and Lionel Hampton’s bands, and she debuted as a solo recording artist with 1967’s Down to Earth. The title was an obvious nod to her stellar day job, and fittingly, the music was anything but cosmic. It’s a lightly jazzy lounge pop album, typical of its time, and loaded with standards and showtunes.

Keep reading after the jump…

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‘Raw Power’: The vintage ‘zine run by teens who took on rock & punk (and won) back in the mid-70s
08.23.2016
11:24 am

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The cover of Raw Power magazine featuring Iggy Pop, 1977.
 

“I’m gonna die anyway and I’d prefer it to be at my leisure.”

—Iggy Pop on his admission that he only planned to live “two more years” back in 1977 in an interview with Raw Power magazine

Founded by the sixteen-year-old duo of Scott Stephens (who wrote under the name “Quick Draw”) and Robert Olshever (aka “Bobalouie”) the LA-based ‘zine Raw Power got started in 1976 and almost immediately got the attention of major record labels who would give Stephens and Olshever an all access pass to rock and punk stars like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, DEVO, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, the Ramones and other musical luminaries that the average sixteen-year-old only got close to by way of their poster-covered bedroom walls.
 

The teenage masterminds behind Raw Power Magazine (L to R): Robert Olshever (Bobalouie), Scott Stephens (Quick Draw) and Murray Schwartz.
 
Joined later by Murray Schwartz (who would take photographs for the magazine) Raw Power would publish for about three years and routinely featured all the stuff you’d expect to find in a magazine that fused the worlds of rock and punk together like interviews, album reviews and that—according to an archive of the magazine run by Stephens—LOVED to publish unedited “letter to the editor” many of which were laced with obscenity. And here’s a rather mind-blowing revelation from Stephens which took place during an interview with Ozzy in 1979 right after Osbourne (who repeatedly “teared up” during the interview) had been given his walking papers by Black Sabbath. According to Stephens it was the boys of Raw Power who recommended pint-sized guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads to Osbourne for his new band which at the time Ozz was considering calling “Son of Sabbath.”

Ozzy was quite depressed during this time but had recently met Sharon Arden and was in the process of putting together a new group that would eventually record “Blizzard of Ozz”. It was during this interview that members of Raw Power suggested to Ozzy that he consider auditioning a guitarist by the name of Randy Rhoads. Randy was the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Raw Power had interviewed them for a cover story for the 2nd issue in 1977. Shortly thereafter Ozzy auditioned Randy and hired him on the spot. The rest is history.

When the 2000 film by Cameron Crowe Almost Famous came out many of folks in the trio’s circle immediately thought that the flick was about them—which should help put some perspective on how much of an impact Raw Power made in its short run despite its humble design and young founders. As I mentioned Stephens runs an archive for Raw Power where you can read through three issues in full, which I did and I can’t lie—it was a blast. I’ve posted a few images from the magazine as well as some fantastic vintage photos of Stephens and his cohorts cavorting with the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Iggy Pop, Geezer Butler and Ozzy among others. Raw Power was also one of the only publications to have the opportunity to get some great live shots of Van Halen (taken by Murray Schwartz) while they were still performing in the LA club scene back in 1977. These had never been seen outside of the magazine until they were posted over at the Van Halen News Desk in 2014.
 

Scott Stephens of Raw Power Magazine with Iggy Pop, 1977.
 

Stephens with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.
 
More ‘Raw Power’ after the jump…

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