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Sound + Vision: David Bowie plays ‘Low’ in concert, 2002
05.16.2017
11:39 am

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In 2002 David Bowie was in a very different place from he was when he recorded Low in Berlin twenty-five years earlier. Who wouldn’t be, after all? In 1976 Bowie, trying desperately to extricate himself from a serious cocaine addiction, absconded to the European continent, specifically Berlin, where he commenced a period of activity that would elevate him into the category of unquestionable rock and roll legends once and for all.

He chose Berlin because he could exist there in relative anonymity: “Berliners just didn’t care. Well, not about an English rock singer, anyway.” He didn’t realize at the time that he was entering a scene with heavy heroin availability, but luckily that didn’t prove deleterious to his health or sanity: “I moved out of the coke center of the world into the smack center of the world. Thankfully, I didn’t have a feeling for smack, so it wasn’t a threat.”

Bowie helped Iggy Pop record The Idiot and became inspired by (among other things) Brian Eno’s album Discreet Music. He met up with Eno and their first collaboration was the moody, bracing and unexpected album Low, which startled not merely a few Bowie fans.

Jump to the early 2000s. 9/11 occurred during the post-production phase of Heathen, which came out in June of 2002, and while Bowie was never quick to point to it as a “9/11 album,” he did acknowledge that there was a connection there, calling it “a traumatic album to finish” and emphasizing that “we live down here,” i.e. downtown Manhattan.
 

 
In 2002 for his Heathen Tour, Bowie planned a limited number of concerts in which he would play Low start to finish. (Actually he ended up choosing to play the tracks out of order, but whatevs.) The first Low show was at Roseland Ballroom in New York on June 11, 2002. The other three shows in which he played the full album took place in London, Cologne, and Montreux. (Those four shows, as well as one other show in Denmark the same year, appear to be the only times Bowie ever played “Weeping Wall” live. Setlist.fm isn’t aware of any others, anyway.) 

The Low set at the Montreux Jazz Festival was captured on video with high-quality audio and video. The date was July 18, 2002, which was also the final time Bowie ever played the album live.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Spider’: New music from the amazing Celebration
05.16.2017
09:52 am

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Music

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Once upon a time there was a tiny Chicago record label called Choke, Inc. It was an uncommonly well-curated label, focused on a diverse array of truly superb bands from the Midwest—despite the Chicago address, its entire roster hailed from Michigan and Ohio. Between 1993 and 1995, they released sophisticated bands like the baroque math-metalists Craw and the sublime Ann Arbor art rockers Morsel, while at the same time sheltering scuzzy dirt merchants like The Hairy Patt Band and the depraved twin-bass siege of Cincinnati’s Milkmine.

All of the foregoing was highly worthy stuff, but then there was Jaks. Ho. Lee. Shit.

Jaks’ lone album, 1995’s excellent Hollywood Blood Capsules, had exactly the cultural impact of all of Choke’s releases—none. It’s been out of print since Choke choked, though the attempt by 31G records to resuscitate the band’s reputation, 2005’s Here Lies the Body of Jaks, remains available, and it has more music on it anyway. People who were fortunate enough to experience the band live were treated to the feral vocal stylings and unrestrainedly manic stage presence of Katrina Ford. Guitarist Sean Antanaitis’s trebly, turbulent, and often downright menacing guitar screamed behind it all, though he mostly remained stoically motionless—who could compete with a commotion like Ford, anyway? They had mastered the angular post-punk trip years before that became the trendiest possible move to cop—for real, had Jaks been a Brooklyn band in 2004 instead of a Michigan band in 1994, they’d have likely been a very fucking big deal.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Set your phasers to WTF: Psychic medium claims to be channeling messages from the late Jeff Buckley
05.16.2017
09:12 am

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Amusing
Kooks
Music
Stupid or Evil?

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The late Jeff Buckley has a message for you. NOT.
 
I’m going to be brutally honest with you right now—I am both intrigued and deeply confused by my recent discovery of blog entry by an alleged psychic medium who calls herself “Divine Jacqueline.” The entry, which was posted back in 2011 claims to contain messages from the great beyond from musician Jeff Buckley. If you recall, Jeff died at the way too young age of 31 after drowning in the Mississippi River in 1996. I’m a huge fan of Buckley and had the good fortune to see him live just before his untimely death in an intimate setting in Boston, and to this day the experience ranks as one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. While I’d love to believe that Jeff Buckley is communicating with us while he’s chilling out with other members of rock’s heavenly choir, I simply don’t. And most of the stuff that Divine Jacqueline insists is the word of Jeff is, as you might imagine,  straight-up bizarre and more than difficult to swallow. Mostly because I’m shit-sure that Jeff fucking Buckley would ever admit to liking the song “My Sacrifice” by Creed. Because nobody really actually likes that song (alive or dead) or Creed for that matter. Hell, even Creed probably hates it. And that’s a fact.

According to Divine Jacqueline, Buckley now goes by the name “Scott Moorhead” which is a combination of his stepfather’s last name of Moorhead and his middle name which he went by when he was a child. Of the many, many wild statements the Divine Jacqueline makes on her Blogspot site, I have extracted a few of the stranger ones that she has “received” from Buckley about how he spends his infinite time in the afterworld. You might want to lie down while reading what follows as I found it both helpful, as well as necessary:

Jeff says that “What Is And What Should Never Be” is Led Zeppelins’ greatest masterpiece. In fact, Buckley wishes he wrote it himself [DON’T WE ALL?].

Two of Buckley’s closest companions on the other side are author James Joyce and Edith Piaf. While he was still alive, he routinely received “messages” from other deceased musicians like guitarist Randy Rhoads, John Bonham, and Jim Morrison. Jeff also hangs around with musician Roger Voudouris and says that we should all pick up the singer/songwriter’s 1979 album Radio Dreams.

Jeff enjoys “reaching out” to people on earth like actor Brad Pitt. Though he doesn’t communicate with them per se, he just likes to “inspire” them. He also likes to connect to those on earth he had past lives with by phone. Though he “hangs up” when you answer because he was really just expecting to hear your outgoing message on the answering machine, and didn’t think you’d actually pick-up the phone. He also needs us to know that he will not speak to anyone (including psychics) through Ouija boards or seances. So quit it.

Jeff loves the Creed song “My Sacrifice” and often sings it himself these days.

Jeff Buckley LOVES Kate Bush! Who knew?

Okay, I can dig the idea that Jeff Buckley is spending time with Edith Piaf and enjoys the musical stylings of Kate Bush but man, the insinuation that Jeff Buckley is up there in Heaven singing a fucking Creed song is an insult to Buckley and to people with functional ears.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Superfuzz Bigmuff in New York City: Mudhoney rave-up at the Ritz, 1989
05.15.2017
03:02 pm

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Music

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Nirvana might have put a hammerlock on the word grunge for the coming aeons of posterity, but to my mind the question “What is the quintessential grunge band?” has a much better answer, and that’s Mudhoney.

Mudhoney achieved significant notoriety, both in the U.S. and abroad, before Nirvana did. They were the band around which the Seattle scene coalesced more than any other. Mudhoney was born out of the ashes of Green River, which had been active since 1985, and their single “Touch Me I’m Sick” was the defining grunge song until Nirvana came along with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in late 1991.

Mudhoney drew inspiration from (at the time) under-heralded heroes such as Roky Erickson and Billy Childish in establishing their raucous, sloppy, heavy, fuzzy sound. I used to joke that Mark Arm was the one frontman out there where most fans singing along on their own could nail the correct key with the same approximate frequency, but the fact is, Arm was and is one of the greatest pure howlers rock and roll has ever seen. 

Plus, Mudhoney had one of the best band names ever, which almost everyone reading this knows derived from a Russ Meyer movie from 1965.
 

An homage to the Slits on the “Burn it Clean” single
 
In July 1989 they were in New York for the New Music Seminar and played a short set at the Ritz, in the same premises that had once been Studio 54.

Watch the show, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
When Tom Waits met William Burroughs
05.15.2017
01:24 pm

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The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is a lesser-known project of William S. Burroughs (who wrote the opera’s book) and a somewhat better-known work of Tom Waits (who composed the majority of the music and lyrics). The pair collaborated on the piece at the behest of theatrical visionary Robert Wilson, who staged and directed the avant-garde production which premiered in a German-language version at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre on March 31, 1990.

The Black Rider
is based on a gruesome German folktale with supernatural themes called Der Freischütz, which had previously been made into an opera by the Romantic school composer Carl Maria von Weber. Historically, it is considered to be one of the very first “nationalist” German operas. Wilson’s innovate lighting and staging took its cue from German Expressionist cinema of the silent era.
 

 
The story is simple: A mild-mannered clerk falls in love with a hunter’s daughter and seeks his approval in order to marry. He is offered magic bullets in a Faustian bargain. On the day of their wedding, the final bullet kills his love. He loses his mind and joins other of the devil’s victims in a hellish carnival.
 

 
Worth noting that while The Black Rider is based on German folklore, the book has a bit of unavoidable thematic overlap with William Burroughs’ own life, the sordid “William Tell” incident that ended in the shooting death of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer in Mexico in 1951.

In the late 90s, English language versions of the opera started to occur. In 2004, Robert Wilson and Tom Waits teamed up again for an English language version of The Black Rider that would tour the world. Cast members included performers such as Marianne Faithfull (who essayed the devil character), eccentric Canadian chanteuse Mary Margaret O’Hara and Richard Strange from The Doctors of Madness. The opera has been staged several times since then by various companies, mostly in Europe. (“It’s like Cats over there,” said Waits.)
 
See some of ‘The Black Rider’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Brian Eno: The non-musician on the importance of haircuts & more
05.15.2017
12:36 pm

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Music
Television

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Today Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno turns 69 years old. Twenty-five years ago a filmmaker named Henning Lohner put together an hour-long documentary on the former Roxy Music contributor and producer extraordinaire. Its German title is Solo für Eno.

Lohner was raised in Palo Alto, California, because both of his parents were German-born literature professors at Stanford. In his adulthood, Lohner reconnected with his parents’ homeland, where he served as an assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and also collaborated with Frank Zappa and John Cage and Steve Reich, among many others. In recent years he has contributed to soundtracks such as The Thin Red Line and Gladiator.

If you do not understand German, have no fear: There is a tiny amount of German voiceover at the start, but the program is first and foremost a document of Eno in his studio. The audio track is almost entirely in English. (There are German subtitles.) Most online sources give 1994 as the date of Solo für Eno but I think it was actually shot two years earlier.

There’s a funny bit at the start where Lohner has tasked Eno with intoning a few of the weightier pronunciamentos from Eno’s past, such as “Exposure is the currency of popular art. Obscurity is the currency of high art.” He doesn’t remember saying most of them. (Brian: You said that at the talk you gave at MoMA in October 1990; it was probably the same day you found a way to pee in Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal.)

Frustrated with his inability to impose his essence on the TV camera, he jokes that they should get Laurie Anderson to do it. Then he comes up with a kind of game, he can say them if he is fed an “attitude” in which to say them, such as gleeful, sexy, morose, arrogant…... It’s a bit like watching Eno deploy one of his famous Oblique Strategies, the artistic spurs to creativity he developed with Peter Schmidt in the 1970s.

Eno also has some penetrating remarks on the importance of haircuts…

Watch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
24 Hour Partying People: Happy Monday, it’s the Happy Mondays!
05.15.2017
11:20 am

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Drugs
Music

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“You know you talk so hip man! You’re twistin’ my melon man!”

Although, of course, they are still well-loved and known as one of the two defining bands (along with The Stone Roses) of the so-called “Madchester” rave era in the UK, for the majority of American rock fans, Happy Mondays are seen more as early 90s British one-hit-wonders for “Step On” and just that. For a brief spell they looked set to make a breakthrough here, too, with their incredible Paul Oakenfold-produced third album, Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, but that never happened. Today, in the US, Happy Mondays are no better recalled than, say, the Soup Dragons or Jesus Jones, something you might see flipping past MTV Classics.

I had the good fortune to see Happy Mondays do one of the greatest live sets, like, fucking ever, at the Sound Factory in New York in 1990. The Sound Factory was a legendary dance club catering mostly to black and Latino gay men. Hallowed house music DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Junior Vasquez spun there and the place was known the world over for having one of the most insanely powerful, bass-heavy sound systems that you could ever possibly experience at top volume while tripping your face off on Ecstasy. It was the sort of place where the bar sold mostly bottled water and the crowd spilled out into the streets as the sun was coming up. Although not generally thought of as a live music venue, the Sound Factory seemed to be THE place where all of the British “Acid House” and rave-related groups wanted to play when they came to New York in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

That night Dee-lite were the (perfect) opening act and they killed it, as they always did (I saw them dozens of times during that era), leaving the E’d up crowd good and energized for the headliner’s set. The Mondays came out and absolutely blew the roof off the place (not that easy to do, the club was in a basement). From the minute they walked onstage, hundreds of joints were lit up and with that crazy Sound Factory BASS moving the crowd as one, it was a high-energy, you-had-to-be-there-to-believe-it experience. It was you might say, a memorable evening of music being made for people on drugs by people who were on drugs themselves. A crazy good time was had by all and this was on a weeknight.

As far as rock shows go, their druggy, trippy, shamanistic set was a triumph by any standard and the Happy Mondays must’ve felt like they were the kings of New York that night. Because they were! From low-level Manchester hoodlums and drug dealers to the top of the pops at home and being welcomed as conquering heroes in New York City? What an experience that must have been for them. Even better on the drugs they were packing…
 

 
But it didn’t last long. Singer/lyricist/ringleader Shaun Ryder—whose surreal wordplay Factory Records boss Tony Wilson compared to W.B. Yeats—was deep into a heroin habit that turned into crack addiction—all he could get in Barbados as the band recorded Yes, Please! the lackluster follow-up to Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads. The idea was to get Ryder to a place where drugs would be difficult for him to find… like Barbados?

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Glam rockers Supernaut & their epic 70s jams about lollipops, ‘Space Angels’ & bisexuality
05.15.2017
10:03 am

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Music

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Austrailian glam band, Supernaut.
 
I don’t know about you but I personally think the title of this post has something for pretty much everyone, though my statement might not make a lot of sense right now if you’re not acquainted with Aussie glam band, Supernaut. Who should not be confused with alt-rock Serbian band Supernaut, though the Aussie’s did swipe their name from the epic 1972 jam of the same name by Black Sabbath so there’s that. Anyway, don’t worry. Everything will make sense shortly because I’m here to help you get to know Supernaut a lot better.

Initially calling themselves Moby Dick, the earliest version of Supernaut was the idea of three English transplants—brothers Joe and Chris Burnham and vocalist Gary Twinn. Popular in the bar scene, they would eventually become Supernaut after joining forces with bass player Philip Foxman. In 1976 Ian “Molly” Meldrum, Australian musical impresario and the host of the massively popular television music show Countdown became aware of the band and the story of how that happened is quite surreal and plays out much like a scene in a movie where an aspiring musician gets that fabled “big break.”

Vocalist Gary Twinn recalls that Meldrum had arrived in Perth with his pal Paul McCartney, you know from the fucking Beatles, and the duo spent the evening hitting up some of the local clubs. The glittery glam rock stars were aligned in Supernaut’s favor that night as Macca and Meldrum happened to wander into a pub where Supernaut was playing a live set. After the gig, McCartney allegedly told Meldrum that Supernaut was the “best band he had seen in Australia.” Acting on the endorsement Meldrum would give the band two big breaks by helping them get signed to Polydor in 1976 and again later that year when he invited the band to appear on Countdown. It was Meldrum’s support helped Supernaught ride the wave of criticism they received after the release of their very first single “I Like it Both Ways”—a song that celebrated the joys of bisexuality. Here are some of the lyrics that helped influence the decision of pretty much every commercial radio station in Australia to outright ban the song from their playlists:

Johnny’s with a Julie he tells her she’s his girl says “I’ll love you always”
She got to love to find within his schizophrenic mind because he likes it both ways
One day it’s a rose another day a thorn he just can’t make the choice
Like when he seems so hard to find he can’t make up his mind between a high or low pitched voice
I like it both ways
I like it both ways
I like it both ways
I like it both ways

 

A shot of vocalist Gary Twin from the video for ‘I Like it Both Ways.’

While getting zero traction from commercial radio would have normally been a bit of a death blow to a band just getting their start, with the help of Meldrum and other television appearances, the controversial single would end up charting in the top five. Later that same year Supernaut released their self-titled album which went gold. Whatever your own personal definition of having “it” is, Supernaut had that and more including the right clothes, rock god hair, and legitimate musical chops. Again, with Meldrum at the wheel of the glam rock spaceship that was Supernaut, he would fund, direct and produce the video for “I Like it Both Ways.” The video, while fantastic, was partially the product of a technical error after a camera was mistakenly pointed right at a television monitor causing images to replicate in a feedback ripple effect while the band performed in front of a green screen. The trippy accident went over well with the band and the crew and the video itself received wide praise for its accidental innovation. And if 1976 hadn’t been good enough to Supernaut, they would also receive the “King of Pop Award” for Best Australian TV Performance.

After the jump, glam rock bliss awaits you! 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘My Home Town’: The unexpected union of DEVO and ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
05.12.2017
12:31 pm

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Music
Television

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I was recently involved in a Facebook discussion of a stupid article that purported to rank “The 25 Worst Places to Live in America” or some suchlike crap. Conspicuously absent from the list were Gary, East St. Louis, and the entire deep south, but no fewer than SEVEN cities in Ohio took “honors.” As an Ohioan, I took a bit of umbrage—not TOO much since it was in the end just a clickbait article—but since a couple of those cities have experienced significant rebounds in recent years, the listicle seemed like it was based on outdated info, if it wasn’t all just an outright ass-pull. (A couple of the Ohio cities named really DO belong on such a list, I must say if I’m to be fair.)

On that thread, someone posted this WONDERFUL video of “The Akron-Canton Hometown Song,” a booster song recorded and vanity-pressed in 1962 at Cincinnati’s Rite Record Productions for Akron radio station WHLO 640AM. Credited to Terry Lee with backing vocals by the WHLO Hometowners, the one-sided record has no Discogs page, so it is now my mission to find a copy in the wild:
 

 
Is that not a delight? Between the word “Hometown” in the title and its goofy, totally guileless boosterism (“Akron, Canton, they’re sure okay!”) it made me wonder if it wasn’t an inspiration for “My Home Town”—not the droning Springsteen hit, but the song by DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh on the 1987 Ralph Records compilation Potatoes Volume 1. (There was never a Volume 2, though the 1989 CD reissue boasted an expanded track list.) It’s a parody of exactly the kind of optimistic civic pride expressed in the radio song, but with a cynical Rust Belt downer edge. The LP credits cite a 1976 composition date, going on to state that the song was re-recorded in 1986. I’ve been unable to find any evidence of an extant 1976 recording, but here’s the one that’s been around:
 

 
I love that song. I’ve had that album for almost as long as it’s been out, and I have belted that song out in the shower, changing the word “Akron” to “Cleveland,” which is my home town. The two cities are about 30 minutes away from one another, and their fortunes and declines have been pretty much parallel, so no other lyrical alterations are really necessary. Since Mothersbaugh is rather famously an Akronite, and he’d have been around 12 when that WHLO record came out, it didn’t seem unreasonable to wonder if he may have heard it on the radio? I mentioned my curiosity about that possible connection in the Facebook discussion and was rather swiftly corrected. THIS, I was advised, was a much more likely inspiration. Much, much, much, much, much more likely…
 
The mystery thickens, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
High-quality footage of the Cure playing New York City on their first U.S. tour, 1980
05.12.2017
11:35 am

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Music

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The Cure were arresting enough as a band to land its first album Three Imaginary Boys on the U.K. charts in 1979. A year later, with their sophomore effort Seventeen Seconds ready to be released in April, the band arranged for a brief tour of the eastern seaboard of the United States, the first time they had “jumped the pond” after having played entirely British gigs up to that point, with the exception of a handful of dates in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.

The Cure’s first-ever show on the North American continent was not in New York City. It was in scenic Cherry Hill, New Jersey, at the Emerald City Lounge, on April 10 or 12, 1980. Actually, a fanzine review of that Cherry Hill by Frank Chmielewski show survives, and it’s interesting to note how very unusual the Cure seemed to Chmielewski:
 

So original, this Cure, it is really hard to expalin (sic) it. It is not a dance band, yet it is very rhythmic, and has a textured sound. ... The Cure’s music is brain-stroking, maybe.

 
Remarkably, according to Chmielewski one of the openers for the Cure at that show was the Dickies.

Anyway, the Cure headed to D.C. for a show at the Bayou and then traveled to NYC for a three-show stint at Hurrah on West 62nd Street on April 15, 16, and 17. Some of you might recall that Hurrah was the club where in December 1978 Sid Vicious got into a fight with Todd Smith (the brother of Patti Smith) during a Skafish gig, which incident led to the incarceration of Sid Vicious in Rikers Island. It was also where Divine starred in the play The Neon Woman. These three Cure gigs took place towards the end of Hurrah’s existence, as it was defunct by 1981.

It’s not entirely clear which show of the three this footage comes from. The Cure was taped by Charles Libin and Paul Cameron, who took video footage of many bands in New York during that era. For any band playing multiple gigs in New York, their whole M.O. was to watch the first one(s) as prep for the final show, where they would do the actual taping. So it’s likely this show took place on April 17, 1980.

We presented a portion of this footage early last year, but only two songs were available then. Fortunately for us “new shit has come to light,” as a certain fictitious stoner once said. In this clip we have an actual majority of one of the shows, with eleven songs represented from a set that probably would have had somewhere shy of twenty.

Of the Hurrah dates, Robert Smith said that “we’d obtained cult status ... but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights ... at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.” Simon Gallup noted one of the key differences of playing in the United States, that “instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”

Watch it after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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