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Dub visionary Adrian Sherwood talks about his legendary career in music
06.30.2016
08:54 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Reggae

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The ongoing series of Sherwood at the Controls releases surveys the recording career of Adrian Sherwood, the visionary dub producer and founder of On-U Sound. Volume One, released last year, covers 1979 to 1984, while the brand-new Volume Two takes us from 1985 to 1990.

As these discs demonstrate, Sherwood’s talents were too great to be contained by any genre. During the decade-long period under examination, his work connects everyone from Prince Far I, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the Slits to Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and Ministry. (“Al [Jourgensen] would go to the toilet and copy down the studio settings Adrian used for his effects on toilet paper and put them in his trousers,” Revolting Cock Luc Van Acker remembers from the Twitch sessions.) As I mention below, I think On-U must be the only point at which the discographies of Sugar Hill and Crass Records intersect. These comps also contain a sampling of the pathbreaking records Sherwood made with On-U outfits African Head Charge, Tackhead, and Dub Syndicate, which redefined what dub was and could be.

I spoke to Sherwood on June 24, the day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

Dangerous Minds: I spent yesterday listening to Don’t Call Us Immigrants as I was watching the Brexit votes come in

Adrian Sherwood: [laughs]

—I feel I have to ask you about that. What are your thoughts?

Well, we would like to have stayed. There’s lots of reasons I would stay in Europe, and I’m sad, really. Europe’s done a lot, really, for each other. Apart from keeping a lot of peace and stability, the farming lobby in France and the farming lobby in Italy’s very strong, Germany’s got the biggest Green Party membership in Europe, they’re very advanced in renewable energy, and the farming lobby makes sure that we’re not victim of any of the terrible things that happen in the States with the poisoning of the food chain. So they’re very, very good; they ensure the standard of organic food, et cetera et cetera, and they also fight for workers’ rights. So I could go on and on about it, but I firmly would have liked to have seen a strong EU that we were part of.

You know, if they’re worried about immigration, they could have a united policy, but it was all panic, panic, panic, and to be honest with you, it was more like the ignorant masses that wanted to get out, thinking “Oh, let’s stop immigration,” but there’s no such thing as an indigenous English person. Every last person in this country is of an immigrant extraction. Everybody.
 

Lee Perry and Adrian Sherwood, photographed by Kishi Yamamoto
 
I wonder if I could go back to the beginning of your career. What was the relationship like between the Jamaican roots artists and the UK scene? It seems like you were in a special position to observe their interaction. Was that a competitive relationship?

No, not in the least. It was very hard for the English artists to get credibility, because everybody was looking to Jamaica, as though there’s the great thing, like the British bands always looking to the great American bands. The situation was always the exciting new star coming from Jamaica, and everybody really wanted to see him or her—mainly males, but a lot of female artists as well—and people didn’t think they could get the sound. So it took quite a long time for the English… you know, that album Don’t Call Us Immigrants, it’s interesting that you mention that, ‘cause I’m proud of that album. But that reflected the development of the English reggae sound.

We developed a sound of our own in England, with bands like Steel Pulse and Aswad and Creation Rebel, et cetera, and, you know, Black Slate, Dennis Bovell, obviously, and then eventually the lovers rock scene and our own dub scene. But Jamaica led the way, so everybody in England was like “Oh wow, here’s the new hip hero coming from Jamaica.” It wasn’t really like competing as such, it was more “Bring on the new star,” really, and everyone in England was keen to see the new star. And a few of the really good bands in England got to back the stars, like Aswad did one of the most famous ever gigs backing a young Burning Spear in ‘76 or ‘77 or something.

Since you mentioned Creation Rebel, can you tell me a bit about Prince Far I? I’ve listened to a lot of Prince Far I but I have almost no sense of what he was like as a person.

Far I was a bit of a joker. He would stand on the table and do Elvis Presley impersonations. He had a very mad sense of humor. But his background was quite serious. He was friends with Claudie Massop who was a political gunman, and he himself had been like a security man at Joe Gibbs’ studio, the doorman. He’d worked on a bauxite factory, producing aluminum, where Claudie Massop was the foreman, and because of the politics, he was like a “big friend,” as Joe Higgs said, like a big friend to Far I. But Far I was a character, quite a complex character as well. He looked much older and seemed much older than he actually was.

Did he seem like a wise person? Was that part of it?

Yeah, he definitely had a lot of depth to him, was interested in things and read quite a bit. But he was a joker and a character, and I remember him being full of jokes and fun and stuff. Although he had a darker side as well, which was more one of feeling that people were working voodoo on him, y’know, things like that. So there was kind of a strange underbelly there as well.

From the little I know, it seems like the reality was pretty heavy for a lot of those guys. Tapper Zukie was involved in some violence… it seems like that was just part of life for a lot of those guys.

Well, I knew Tapper Zukie from that period. My friend, Clem Bushay, he lives about 200 meters from me; he actually produced the Man Ah Warrior album.

No way.

Yeah, the producer lives on the same road as I’m speaking to you from now. I knew Tapper Zukie for a long time.

They were all affiliated with politics, that was the thing. And in the seventies, in Jamaica, obviously, the CIA were moving in, trying to destabilize the country, because they didn’t want them to slip towards the Cuban model and affiliate with Russia, and have another Russian ally so close to the United States. So a lot of arms were put in to Seaga, who was affiliated with the Americans, where Manley wanted to stay with the Cubans and work more to a socialist state. That’s why there’s so many arms and, to this day, so much trouble for Jamaica.

It was a crazy election—I think it was ‘76—and I was eighteen at the time, and Far I was with us in England. It was mad. Phoning home and, you know, ten, 20 people shot a day in the political violence. And Far I obviously was close with Claudie Massop, who was one of the main enforcers, like his father Jack Massop had been. But we met a lot of those gunmen: Take Life[?], Bucky Marshall, Tapper Zukie, Horsie—not Horsemouth Wallace, another one called Horsie. Were some quite dark characters, really, but if you met them, you’d have thought they were really charming. But then what they actually got up to was a whole different thing.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Incredible NEWLY UNCOVERED 1977 footage of UK punk bands: Damned! Generation X! Adverts! Rich Kids!
06.26.2016
07:15 am

Topics:
Punk
Television

Tags:


 
With the steady influx of punk rock documentaries, books, and all manner of info (and YouTube fare) coming in from all directions—thankfully eyes are opening to all the wild stuff from the 1920s to the 1950s as much as to 70s punk and other recent upheavals—something like this still truly amazes me, especially since this accidentally seldom-seen footage captures a couple of extra special treasures for the jaded and world-weary punk connoisseur/freak/snob.
 
drtfj
 
The footage is from an apparently unaired UK TV show called Impact and was filmed December 21st 1977 by one Mike Mansfield. Mansfield was a producer, most importantly to us of the UK TV show Supersonic which started in 1975 and was a much hipper version of Top Of The Pops. Supersonic featured great performances of glam rockers like T.Rex and others colliding with the punk movement.
 
gfnv
 
One of the great surprises here is the only known footage of the five-piece version of The Damned with second guitarist Lu (who is currently playing in PiL, strangely enough) and Jon Moss, later of Culture Club fame, on drums! Also featured are The Rich Kids, former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s post-Pistols band with Steve New, Midge Ure (Ultravox) and Rusty Egan (Visage); the amazing Adverts are here and so the great Generation X with vocalist Billy Idol, bassist Tony James (later of Sigue Sigue Sputnik) and Bob “Derwood” Andrews, considered by many (myself included) to be the single best guitarist to come out of the punk rock era.

No sense in waiting—watch this treat after the jump! Enjoy!

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Kill the f*ckers: ‘White Man,’ Suicide’s BRUTAL sonic attack on white supremacy
06.23.2016
10:17 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Race

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Alan Vega, 70s, photo by Paul Zone

I plan to stand behind my front door clutching a baseball bat for the duration of this year’s Republican National Convention, but if I were headed to one of the “First Amendment zones” in Cleveland next month, I would carry a ghetto blaster that played nothing but Suicide’s “White Man.”

Born Boruch Alan Bermowitz in 1938 and married to a Holocaust survivor during the sixties, Alan Vega knows whereof he sings on “White Man,” an obscure late-period Suicide track that deserves a wider hearing. While Vega denounces the legacy of white supremacy in the barest language there is, Martin Rev’s music—drums, a single guitar chord through a tremolo effect and a three-note bassline, punctuated by keyboard noises—corresponds to an inner state between trance and fury.

So far, “White Man” has only been officially released on the DVD One Day + Live at La Loco / Paris, a pro-shot live show from January 2005 supplemented with interviews. (A used copy from Amazon will set you back about $5.) Though Suicide has been playing the song since ‘98 (according to this fan’s timeline), they left it off their last album to date, 2002’s merciless post-9/11 nightmare American Supreme.
 

 
It just so happens there’s video of Suicide playing “White Man” in Manhattan right after the 2004 RNC. The performance falls flat, but Vega’s ad-libbed tirade is much clearer than on the Paris tape:

White man
HRRRRAARUUGHGH white man
Goin’ ‘round the world
Killin’ everybody with a different color skin
Yeah, it’s the American race
Yeah, kill the fuckers

White man
You’re a fucking diseased fucker
You’re a fucking cancer
White man
HUH!

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Makeup artist transforms young woman into an old fart punk rocker
06.21.2016
11:24 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:


 
Makeup and prosthetics artist Neill Gorton recently showed off his mad skills at the International Makeup Artists Trade Show (IMATS) in London by turning a young woman into an old punk. The young female model, Kelsey-Leigh Walker became totally unrecognizable when the makeup was completed. It’s pretty impressive, eh?

“This was done to promote my make up school Neill Gorton Prosthetics Studio,” said Gorton.

In my opinion, the makeup is just as good or maybe even better than Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa which was nominated for an Oscar in 2014 for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. So I guess what I’m trying to say is this is Oscar-worthy work! Well done!


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Watch early footage of the Jam kicking ALL THE ASS, Manchester, 1977
06.21.2016
09:48 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

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Though due to to time, place, and sound, the Jam are closely associated with the London punk explosion of the late ‘70s, their musical and extra-musical ethos were often directly contrary to punk’s year-zero outlook, paying open obeisance to ‘60s groups that punk sought to outright reject. Though they shared punk’s focused anger and political engagement, the band embraced the posh fashions, R&B influence, and speed-freak energy of the mod movement which, having peaked and ebbed a dozen years earlier, was tremendously passé even to non-cognoscenti, and singer/guitarist Paul Weller’s schoolgirl crush on the Who couldn’t have been more blatant.
 

Case in point.

So unpunk were the Jam considered in some circles that no less a Godhead than Joe Strummer of the Clash called them out as frauds in one of his band’s greatest songs, “White Man in Hammersmith Palais.” In the song’s second half, Strummer addresses disillusionment with punk’s direction, and the verse

The new groups are not concerned
with what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, you think it’s funny
turning rebellion into money

has long been considered a direct stab at the Jam, who at the time had recently made a point of proclaiming a baffling loyalty to the Tories. (In later years, Weller would refer to Margaret Thatcher as “absolute fucking scum” and “a traitor to the people,” so don’t hold that early Conservative support against him.) Strummer demurely claimed he was taking aim at power-pop more generally, but the “Burton suits” line seemed mighty specific.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up’: Comix god Daniel Clowes’ cartoony video for the Ramones’ Tom Waits cover
06.17.2016
11:03 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
On a recent episode of WTF, Marc Maron had an expansive chat with the renowned comix artist Daniel Clowes, the mind responsible for Eightball, Ghost World, Wilson, and the 2016 release Patience.

I learned a lot I didn’t know about Clowes—I hadn’t realized, for instance, that as a Pratt student who was born in 1961, Clowes was actually bouncing around New York City the same time that Blondie, Lydia Lunch etc. were making Manhattan such a vital artistic locale.

Clowes’ unbridled hostility towards the hippies that came before him and their arena-ready rock and roll (think Led Zeppelin) actually made him an ideal audience for the seething musical forms percolating right around that time. As he told Maron, “I was like the guy punk was made for, because it was destructive of all the stuff I hated.” And of all the punk bands in the world to choose from, one stood out:
 

Maron: Do you remember the first punk record [you bought]?
Clowes: It was the first Ramones record. ... The trouble was, that’s still my favorite one. Like, I never found anything I liked as much as that. I spent like five years like, OK, there’s gonna be another one—No, they were the best, and nobody else came close to that.


 
Clowes saw the Ramones play at Irving Plaza after they’d gotten a little too big for CBGB—most likely the March 4, 1980, show.

Fast-forward to the mid-1990s. The Ramones were putting out ¡Adios Amigos!, which would be their last studio album, and Clowes was a well-known figure in the comix scene who had released Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron a couple of years earlier. The single for the album was a cover of a Tom Waits song off of 1992’s Bone Machine called “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”
 

 
If the video hadn’t been for Clowes’ favorite band, he probably wouldn’t have considered the sacrifices he had to make in order to finish the project. Clowes told the AV Club in 2008:
 

I got the phone call about that project on the first of June 1995, and it was on TV the first of July. It was a month from knowing about it to it being so done it was on TV. It was insane. I would stay up all night drawing pictures for it. At 6 in the morning, this bleary-eyed messenger would come to my door and pick up the latest drawings, take them to an animation studio in Mill Valley, and then come back later and pick up more. I had to postpone my wedding to do that.

The greatest moment of my life was, somebody sent me a cable-access show from Chicago that had Joey Ramone on it showing that video. And he was talking about, like, [imitates Queens accent] “This guy Dan Clowes postponed his wedding for us. He’s a great guy.”

 
Check out the video after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The entire print run of classic SF punk magazine ‘Damage’ is now online!
06.13.2016
09:25 am

Topics:
Art
Literature
Punk

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Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of StarRock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs Fanzinefaves.com, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.

We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds. The last time was when he uploaded the entire print run of the seminal transgressive LA artpunk publication, NO MAG, over at his site CirculationZero.com.

Richardson has done his Good Samaritan work once again, this time with the upload of the complete print run of the Bay Area’s Damage magazine which was published between July 1979 and June 1981. Damage concentrated its coverage on the San Francisco and LA punk scenes, but also covered underground music scenes worldwide. Richardson calls it “a definite contender in a state crowded with fanzine heavyweights.”

Thirteen issues were published including a freebie special edition released between the 9th and 10th issue for the Western Front festival which Damage co-sponsored.

The newsprint zine featured bold graphics, photography, and loads of writing and interviews of great historical importance to anyone following the early California punk scene. Your mileage may vary, but the San Francisco scene between 1978-1983 is perhaps my personal favorite all-time music scene, so these issues are absolute gold to me. For my money, nothing beats the aesthetic of arty punk fanzines prior to the age of desktop publishing, and Damage is as fine an example of the form as any you care to name.

Publisher Brad Lapin spoke of Damage’s importance as a historical record in a 2010 statement to the San Francisco Zine Fest:

While I trust that the magazine speaks for itself, both for good and ill, I suppose I could say by way of explanation that, beyond all the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, that is, beyond the pure visceral FUN of punk and life in the underground, there were also deeply serious issues of politics, of social justice and, above all, of aesthetics that connected and inspired the many people involved in the Damage project. Because these concerns were particularly articulated in the scene as it existed in San Francisco three decades ago, Damage’s importance today, like that of the other zines, is as a kind of constant witness to an unique time, place and circumstance; one that spoke and one hopes still speaks to the immanent primacy of youthful idealism and to the notion that there is a deep and abiding value in a radical, even desperate rejection of the commonplace, the accepted, the normal. Conformity and regimentation then, as now, are the foresworn enemies of the creative energy that is the essence and the wellspring of youth. That stance of absolute defiance to which the punk aesthetic aspires and which, in fact, is it’s raison d’etre is no less a viable ideal today than it was 30 years ago. If anything, it is more necessary and more important.


The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. Donations to these charities make the project worthwhile for Richardson, so it would be, you know, the cool thing to do to toss a few bucks that way, considering the amazing gift being provided here. Richardson has placed donation links on CirculationZero.com—go there now to download Damage, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of covers and pages from Damage‘s history:
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Riot on Times Square: The Clash on Broadway!
06.10.2016
04:32 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

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From the Dangerous Minds archives:

In May/June of 1981, The Clash were booked to play at the curiously named “Bond International Casino”—a discotheque that was previously a swanky supper club in the 1940s, and then a low-rent clothing store called Bonds until 1977 and they just kept the sign—in New York City in support of the sprawling three record set Sandinista! album. They were meant to play just eight gigs in the smallish Times Square space—capacity 1800 people—but the performances were dangerously oversold by greedy promoters. Fire marshals and the NYC Building Department closed down both of the May 30th concerts, but the band vowed to honor each and every last ticket and so the number of shows was extended to seventeen, with matinee and evening performances added.
 

 
The Clash’s Bond Casino shows became an integral part of the rebel band’s legend and featured hand-picked opening acts like The Fall, Dead Kennedys, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Treacherous Three, KRAUT, Funkapolitan (who opened for The Clash when I saw them the following year), The Slits, ESG, Bad Brains, The Bloods, The Sugarhill Gang, their pal from Texas Joe Ely and others. Many of the groups were openly booed by the rowdy crowds.

One of the shows, on June 9th, was professionally recorded for an FM radio broadcast and widely bootlegged. You can easily find it and every other of the Clash’s Bond shows—all of them were bootlegged—on audio blogs. But not a lot of footage has been seen from the Clash’s Bond residency. There were some tantalizing clips that were seen in Don Letts’ excellent Grammy-winning Westway to the World rock doc (released in 2000), as well as in the abandoned short “The Clash on Broadway” (on Westway DVD as an extra), but sadly the docs didn’t give you an entire song. However, Letts’ Bond footage was apparently shot on the same day as the FM recording was made and an enterprising Clash fan has restriped the stereo audio from that source and synced up some other angles found in various other places (mostly Letts’ docs). The results are probably the best glimpse we have at what went on at these shows.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry dominates DEVO in the funny pages of Punk Magazine, 1978
06.08.2016
04:56 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
At the start of 1978 Blondie had released its self-titled debut album and was about to put out its sophomore follow-up Plastic Letters; the band’s masterpiece, Parallel Lines, would be recorded in the summer and released in the autumn. Meanwhile, Akron’s DEVO had been bouncing around with sublime creativity for several years, but their mind-blowing debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was still several months off.

Still, the two staples of smart American pop music were apparently well known enough even at that moment, such that PUNK magazine could feel it worthwhile to commission a silly comic strip involving the two bands, featuring photographs as the panels, as in the fumetti form often seen in Italy and also, as it happens, in frequent use by National Lampoon right around this time. 

The title of the strip was “Disposable DEVO,” and the plot was rife with the “devolutionary” concepts that DEVO’s own name made so famous.
 

 
The comic appeared in issue #12 of Punk Magazine, which came out in January 1978. Chris Stein took the photographs. In the strip “a malfunctioning android cleaning lady” played by Debbie Harry attempts to sweep away a pile of humanoid debris (i.e., DEVO) only to find, against all expectation, that the five identically outfitted “zeroids” are actually capable of feeling sensations (pain).

You can actually buy this issue for a mere $75 (it’s also available on Amazon for a bit less)—or read “Disposable DEVO below. (You can do both, too.)
 

 
via Post Punk Industrial
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
That time John Belushi and Divine played with the Dead Boys, 1978
06.08.2016
09:15 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
John Belushi’s connection to music, as far as most of the world is concerned, is his famous labor of love for R&B, the Blues Brothers. That album and film were exercises in rock-star wish fulfillment gone spectacularly right, and both remain justly exalted to this day. But Belushi was also an ardent supporter of the punk scene whose rise coincided with his heyday as a Saturday Night Live star.

Surely Belushi’s most famous expression of punk fandom was when he arranged for the notorious L.A. band Fear—reprobate contrarian dicks even by punk rock standards—to appear as SNL’s musical guest. Utter chaos ensued. The story’s been retold often, including on this very blog, so I won’t flog that dead horse here. But what’s less widely known, and really shouldn’t be, is that Belushi played drums with the Dead Boys at CBGB in 1978.

This was not a particularly happy event—Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz had been stabbed, almost fatally, and CBGB was holding a series of benefit concerts for his medical costs. Over 30 bands performed over the course of four days, and naturally the Dead Boys performed, with New York Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan filling in for the waylaid Blitz. But during the band’s signature song, “Sonic Reducer,” a song plundered from Blitz and guitarist Cheetah Chrome’s previous band, the Cleveland proto-punks Rocket From the Tombs, John Belushi played drums. And he did really well. Divine and the Neon Women—her dancers from her stage production The Neon Woman, which was running at the Hurrah Discotheque at the time—joined the band that night as well, as go-go dancers.
 

This pristine Arturo Vega shirt from the benefit sold on eBay for $749 in 2014.

Pat Ivers, who shot the footage below, related the story of that night to the New York Times a few years ago, and included the details of how Belushi came to be in the Dead Boys’ orbit:

Everyone from Blondie to Belushi showed up when we brought our camera down for the fourth and final night. But first, a few words about John Belushi. Four months earlier, at a party in the West Village, we met him and Dan Aykroyd while having a smoke on the balcony. We began needling them, because that weekend Saturday Night Live had booked the Sex Pistols (a gig that never happened: Elvis Costello ultimately performed instead). “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night? Where’s the New York bands; have you ever seen any play?” We invited them down to CBGBs that weekend. Belushi came, he saw, he fell in love with the Dead Boys. Billy Blitz [Johnny’s brother] remembered, “He used to call our house looking for my brother. My parents had no idea who he was, it killed me!” It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The Blitz Benefit was everything that was best in the CBGB scene: it was wild, unpredictable and small-town in its own peculiar way. We remember Cheetah Chrome as MC, taking on a leadership role… he was the glue that held those nights together. And who could forget Kathy Kurls, friend of the band, who stripped to “Sonic Reducer” right down to her pasties. Among so many others, Syl Sylvain and Arthur Kane, formerly of the New York Dolls, performed with their bands, the Criminals and the Corpse Grinders. Jeff Magnum, Dead Boys bassist, recalled using different drummers every night to fill in for Johnny. “It was cool to play with [ex-Doll] Jerry Nolan – he was a great drummer and Belushi was a lot of fun. To the tons of our friends who played for the benefit, we are eternally grateful.”

After the jump, the video evidence!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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