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Relax, everyone: A disco version of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ is here to save us all


The cover of Rosetta Stone’s single featuring their version of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.”
 
I’m going to do something I love doing here on Dangerous Minds—taking you back to the 1970s when everything was cool. Today’s time machine post concerns Irish band and sort of one-hit-wonders, Rosetta Stone (not be confused with UK goth-rock outfit Rosetta Stone, naturally).

Formed by three brothers, Damian, Terry, and Colin McKee, the lineup of what would later become Rosetta Stone also included the trio’s pal, future Bay City Rollers guitarist Ian Mitchell. After going through a few different names for the band like Bang and the poorly chosen moniker Albatross, they started calling themselves Young City Stars sometime in the mid-70s. Young City Stars opened a gig for the Bay City Rollers in Belfast in 1975, and Mitchell would leave his school friends to join them in 1976. The rigor of non-stop touring and media attention was a bit much for Mitchell, and he would return to his roots with Young City Stars bringing with him the support of the machinery behind the Rollers. After changing their name to Rosetta Stone they would sign with Private Stock (Blondie, Stevie Wonder, Nancy Sinatra)—a label formed by Larry Uttal after getting ousted by Clive Davis from his role with Bell Records.
 

Rosetta Stone.
 
In 1977 Rosetta Stone released a 7’ single with Private Stock—a disco-pop version of Cream’s 1967 psychedelic smash “Sunshine of your Love.” The band got some pretty good traction from their boogie-worthy interpretation of the song and got to perform it on Marc Bolan’s short-lived television show, Marc. Rosetta Stone would follow up with a full-length, Rock Pictures later in 1978 (which included “Sunshine of Your Love” as well as a cover of The Kinks “You Really Got Me”) and a second album in 1979, Caught in the Act. Shortly after the release of Caught in the Act, Mitchell would split from the band again, this time for good.

I have to tell you, Rosetta Stone’s cover of “Sunshine of Your Love” is really out there, and I’m sure some of you will think it’s utter trash.

Watch and listen to Rosetta Stone, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.14.2018
05:00 pm
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‘Feed the World’ with bad music: The wacky world of charity singles


 
In the mid-1980s, the pop music scene had this idea that recording songs with superstar ensemble bands would change the world. Nobody (especially not Sir Bob Geldof) stopped to consider that maybe it was a little condescending, a little patronizing, and a little bit OH I DUNNO colonialist to want to “fix” all the poor starving dark people. Do they know it’s Christmas? Probably not, dude. And they probably don’t care, either. Ever considered that “they” may not be into the whole Jesus thing?

Right. So these songs have existed for years (although obviously George Harrison got in on that action first with The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.) The most famous ones (of course) were the gazillion-selling hit singles where proceeds went to Ethiopia—“We Are The World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (in 1984 and 1989 respectively). Hell, even the money from George Michael’s “Last Christmas/Everything She Wants” single went to helping the famine in Ethiopia. Not that this was bad. I mean, I’m certainly not gonna attack George because that dude was amazing.

The general feeling of these charity songs ended up being a little “OMGZ we need to helpz the poors who can’t help themselves, c’mon other rich musik frenz! Let us change the world with our synthesizer-ness, big shoulder clothing and rockstar monies!” On the other hand, it catalyzed some pretty HFS songs and mind-blowing music videos. The following works are not all that…good. But they are also not all terrible! Some of them you should love authentically. They are great! Others…well, I love them. But I also recognize that the cheese factor is basically at Wisconsin-level.

Shall we take a look? 

When the pop stars got all philanthropist-y, the metalheads just had to get in on the action. Thus we got the complete insanity of Swedish Metal Aid and Hear ‘n Aid. Both bands were (like their new wave/pop siblings) ensemble acts with proceeds headed towards Africa. Unlike Band Aid and USA for Africa, these two acts had hair, voices and attitudes that went sky-high. And spandex. Lots and lots and lots of spandex.  Swedish Metal Aid was fronted by Joey Tempest of Europe (yes, “The Final Countdown,” that Europe) and involved members from bands with names like Neon Leon & the Bondage Babies, Heavy Load, Trash, Treat, Orion’s Swords and Glorious Bankrobbers. Hear ‘n Aid was organized by the one and only Ronnie James Dio and he got everybody in there—Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Yngwie Malmsteen, Queensrÿche, Dokken, Mötley Crüe and even Spinal Tap!

More charity singles after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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04.24.2018
12:54 pm
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Effort underway to bring ‘Turning Japanese’ one-hit-wonders, The Vapors, back to the USA
01.05.2018
10:06 am
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Known as “one-hit-wonders” for their MTV mega-hit “Turning Japanese,” which peaked at 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980, The Vapors are perhaps one of the most criminally underrated bands of the “new wave era.”

Personally, I love this band so much that the record store I opened right out of college was named “New Clear Days,” after the first Vapors album. That was the one record my business partner and I could agree on when it came to in-store play. Both the New Clear Days album and its excellent follow-up, Magnets are highly original and insanely catchy, hook-laden, power pop masterworks.

“Turning Japanese,” from New Clear Days, believed by many to be an anthem to masturbation (a claim denied by songwriter/vocalist David Fenton), has persisted as one of the iconic new wave singles of the early ‘80s. 

The Vapors recently reunited in England after a 35-year-hiatus for a series of shows.

A US-based Vapors fan, Evan Blonder from Long Island, recently launched a crowd-funding campaign via GoFundMe to bring the band over to the United States to play three shows in New York City. The band has not played in the States since 1980. Blonder’s campaign hopes to raise $23,000 to cover the cost of performer’s visas, flights, and accommodations to bring the band and their crew over. As of this writing, the campaign is about a third of the way to its goal. 

The campaign offers a number of perks for donors, including meet and greet opportunities—though it does not appear that any of the perks are a simple concert ticket.

After the jump, a fantastic live recording of the last time The Vapors were in New York, back in 1980. If you are a fan, you will not want to miss this…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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01.05.2018
10:06 am
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DEVO’s Jerry Casale interviews DEVO’s Gerald V. Casale
08.04.2017
09:46 am
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This is the best self-interview since David Byrne’s promotional interview for Stop Making Sense.

In this nineteen minute video, “Jerry” Casale plays the cynical straight interviewer of himself, “Gerald” Casale, bass player, vocalist, and spokesman for DEVO.

Gerald reveals to Jerry the secret behind the DEVO “energy domes” (erroneously referred to as “flower pots” by many spuds back in the day), the inspiration behind which was an art deco lighting fixture that hung from the ceiling in his grade school.

Gerald talks at length about the origins of DEVO at Kent State University, from the original concept creation with his friend Bob Lewis, to his meeting of Mark Mothersbaugh after seeing Mothersbaugh’s stickered artwork hanging in the halls of the school.

Gerald explains that the Kent State Massacre was the impetus for the creation of DEVO, conceptually and musically, as an experimental force and bulwark against the prevailing culture:

“After those killings at Kent State and the clampdown from the Nixon administration, you either had to go underground and stick to activism and possibly go to jail or be killed, or find a more creative and subversive way of reacting to the situation you found yourself in in the horrible culture.”

Gerald waxes nostalgic for the “democratic” early days of DEVO’s music when all of the members contributed to the minimalist “form follows function” vision of the band, but explains that the songwriting process went south when the technology they were using became “autocratic,” dictating the direction of the group. According to Casale, “Mark wanted it that way and I didn’t.”

DEVO’s biggest hit, “Whip It,” is also discussed, with Gerald revealing to Jerry that the basis for the song was Mark Mothersbaugh’s deconstruction of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” adding a two beat space to the song’s main riff, with Casale’s lyrics being inspired by Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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08.04.2017
09:46 am
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Attention crate diggers: Next time you see a record called ‘Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,’ BUY IT!
07.19.2017
03:12 pm
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One-hit-wonder Norma Tanega is known only for “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” her soulful, folky quasi-novelty song of 1966 that reached #22 in the pop charts early that year. The whimsical song’s easy-going charm, catchy chorus and vocal harmonies are irresistible, but Tanega, who has recorded several albums worth of worthy material since, was never able to follow it up with another hit record.

Tanega was discovered while singing as a summer camp counselor in the Catskill Mountains and signed to a contact with famed songwriter/producer Bob Crewe (the Four Seasons, “Lady Marmalade,’ “Music to Watch Girls By,” the Barbarella soundtrack, etc), and his record label New Voice. “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” was her first single and in the wake of its success, she moved to England—at the encouragement of her girlfriend Dusty Springfield who she’d met on the set of Top of the Pops—for five years, recording an album for RCA and working as a professional songwriter. After returning to the United States, she became a percussionist, often playing ceramic instruments and taught art in Southern California. (I noticed several YouTube commenters mentioning that they’d been students of Tanega’s and writing fondly of her.)
 

 
The Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog album is pretty easy to find when you are trawling through the stacks at a used record store, usually for super cheap. The next time you see it, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
 

Performing “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” on (I think) ‘Top of the Pops.” Dig her cool Gibson SG Standard guitar.
 
More Norma Tanega after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.19.2017
03:12 pm
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Rock is Hell: Meet GOD, the teenaged Australian punk rockers and their awesome one-hit wonder
05.17.2017
12:22 pm
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The back cover of Melbourne-based punk band GOD’s 1987 single ‘My Pal.’
 
First things first. Yes, a band actually had the balls to name themselves GOD. Although historically they are not the only band to ever do so in the name of punk or rock and roll, they weren’t calling themselves the Godz or something like that, but GOD. The difference might be subtle, but it’s there.

Aside from their cheeky name, the Melbourne-based group GOD had a short but impactful history in the Australian music scene. Though they are generally characterized as a punk band, some musical historians credit GOD for one of the earliest cultivations of grungy sounding grooves that did not originate from the Pacific Northwest area back in the late 80s.

So who exactly were this GOD? Well, they were kids, teenagers quite literally, when they got their first taste of success. Vocalist/guitarist Joel Silbersher was only fifteen when he penned “My Pal” and bass player/guitarist Sean Greenway was the oldest member of the band at the ripe old age of seventeen. In fact when it came time for GOD to sign with Au Go Go Records in Melbourne the details of the contract were negotiated by their parents on their behalf. When the single hit the stores it even included Silbersher’s home address which was noted to be the address to send fan letters to the “GOD Army” (pictured at the top of this post.) That probably made things very weird, and also pretty great back when “My Pal” was the go-to song for punk youth in Australia back in 1987. Because who doesn’t want a legion of female groupies and fans camping out on your lawn when you’re just fifteen? The answer to that question is no one, because everyone does. End of story.

GOD’s first album, Rock is Hell would come out a year later in 1988 and for some strange reason did not include “My Pal.” What it does include are a bunch of kooky-titled songs like “Tommy the Toilet” (remember these are teenage boys we’re talking about), “Worm Sweat,” and “Rok Zombi.” Despite the juvenile naming conventions I just mentioned, Rock is Hell is actually a pretty great, super fuzzy listen. There is also pretty much no doubt that the boys from down under were channeling the emerging grunge sounds of Seattle and the PNW that ring clear in the songs posted below. Sadly, they would disband shortly before the release of their second and final record, 1989’s For Lovers Only which, while different sounding from their debut, really isn’t half bad either. I’ve included fantastic live footage of the band performing “My Pal” and a few other songs from both albums, as well as an adorable interview with GOD from 1988 where they talk about adjusting to their new-found fame in which vocalist Joel Silbersher is still wearing his braces. Awww
 

GOD!

See GOD performing “My Pal” live (and much more) after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.17.2017
12:22 pm
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Oral: The mysterious all-girl heavy metal band and their (maybe) connection to Lemmy Kilmister
03.08.2017
09:18 am
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The cover for ‘Oral Sex,’ the only album from Oral, 1985.
 
Oral is a strange, all-female band that somehow found their way into the NWOBHM when they got together (or were put together perhaps) in 1985. The group was comprised of three girls—Monica, allegedly a former Penthouse model on guitar, a fifteen-year-old girl named Bev on vocals, a chick named Candy on bass and another member named Dee who isn’t pictured on the album cover. Which is a little weird, right? The back of the album only complicates the Dee-situation as it features four images of the girls—the first of which includes Monica, Bev, and Candy, but no Dee, mean-mugging together behind an iron fence. Anyway, all this makes it seem pretty likely that Dee probably is/was a dude which would have wrecked the girls-only vibe of the band. Though I’m only speculating because nobody really knows much about the history of Oral.

Produced by Ralph Jezzard (the bass player for UK band Blood and Roses and the producer behind the E.M.F. earwig “Unbelievable” among other things) Oral Sex was Oral’s debut/swan song and was comprised of just six songs, a few of which were unsurprising allusions to oral sex such as “Love Pole,” “Pearl Necklace,” and “Head.” I mean, what else would you expect from an album called Oral Sex? And as the title of this post indicates, there is some belief out there that the one and only Lemmy Kilmister is responsible for teaching Monica how to play guitar. And before you start virtually shouting at me that Lemmy was a bass player—while you’d be correct—back when he was just starting out with The Rockin’ Vicars in 1965 he was an axeman.

So could Monica’s claim be true? I don’t know but I will tell you this—the first song on Oral Sex, “Head,” sure has all the calling cards of divine Motörhead intervention. And you know what else? Oral Sex (the album) isn’t half bad once you set aside any preconceived notions that the album cover put in your, ahem, head. They even do a pretty kick-ass cover of “Black Leather” originally written and performed by former Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook who recorded the Lydon-free song during sessions for The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (the song never made it onto the soundtrack).

More Oral after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.08.2017
09:18 am
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Deconstructing Positive K’s 1992 hip hop anthem ‘I Got a Man’
02.01.2017
10:57 am
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Bronx’s Darryl Gibson (better known as rapper Positive K) made the scene in 1989 with “I’m Not Havin’ It,” a duet with hip-hop’s pioneer feminist MC Lyte. The unique song detailed a man’s attempts to seduce a woman as she fended off his advances with hilarious comebacks. Three years later, Positive K would recreate this magic formula on his debut hit single “I Got a Man.” Due to a change in record labels, MC Lyte was not able to reprise her role on the song, which left Positive K to record the female parts himself by pitch-shifting his voice in the recording studio. This clever studio trick was extremely effective, catchy-as-hell, and the song peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1993 making him one of hip hop’s first one-hit-wonders.
 
Thanks to simple, modern-day editing software, YouTube user Ryan McNeill has created the “De-Chipmunked Remix” of the song. As he puts it, “When the female parts are slowed to 80%, you hear that Positive K is, in fact, macking on himself the entire time.”
 

 
“I wanted to do something in rap that had never been seen before,” Positive K told the Village Voice in 2014, who carefully re-examined the song over 20 years later as a possible “example of street harassment.” After his debut album The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills failed to produce anymore hit singles, Positive re-recorded his song “Carhoppers” for the music video version as yet another duet with himself. While the Emotions sample driven remix was a pleasing and incredibly catchy tale of rejection, it failed to generate any of the attention of its prototypes.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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02.01.2017
10:57 am
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The crazed death disco of Germany’s Warning, the scariest band you’ve never heard of
01.16.2017
10:30 am
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The early 80s was prime time for scary music. Blame it on Reagan and his itchy nuclear trigger finger, but in its darkest corners, rock n’ roll devolved from the freeballing hedonism of disco and the happy computer blips of new wave into the gnashing teeth and ripping claws of hardcore punk, industrial, death-rock and extreme metal. Bands like Black Flag, Hellhammer, Christian Death, Venom and Whitehouse were making records so aggressive, unhinged, or suicidally depressed that they sounded like the work of actual lunatics. But, you know, rock n’ roll is supposed to be edgy. Dance music, well, you’re just supposed to dance. But in 1982, a year that birthed Negasonic teenage warheads like Venom’s Black Metal, Walk Among Us by The Misfits, and the Birthday Party’s Junkyard, it was a mysterious synth-pop band from Germany who released perhaps the most unsettling album of the year.

It was right there in the title of the band, really: Warning. That basically says it all. The cover of their self-titled debut album is both campy and terrifying. Two black-caped, space-helmeted figures—half Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die pilot, half Darth Vader—descend an escalator, presumably to kill you when they reach the lower level. Amazingly, the music contained within is just as unnerving. A sort of unholy g(h)oulash of horror-prog, clanging disco-metal and woozy electro-pop, Warning is dance music made by people who have never danced in their entire lives. Forget new wave or even cold-wave, this was harrowing doom-wave, anchored by the alternately hilarious and soul-piercing croaks of frontfiend Ed Vanguard.
 
Ed Schlepper
 
Except that there was no “Ed Vanguard”...

It was actually the work of the positively jovial Edgar Schlepper, a turtleneck-wearing producer/songwriter known mostly for writing minor hits for minor pop singers and for “solo” records like 20 Disco Hits in Super Sound. Schlepper made happy, boring music for elevators and mall food courts, but along with his pal Hans Muller (AKA “Mike Yonder”) he created an inexplicable alter-ego so dark and disturbing that it hardly seems possible that this goofy asshole in the beige slacks could be responsible for it. Only Germans could come up with shit this wack. Warning’s crazed opener “Why Can the Bodies Fly” surged up the German pop charts, peaking at #11, despite the fact that it’s seven minutes long, has no hook, and is totally fucking crazy. It was like Daft Punk after a weeklong bath salts binge watching only Teutonic skat videos. It was also their only hit, but since when did Darth Vader care about the pop charts anyway?
 

 
A year later, Warning returned with Electric Eyes, a (very) slightly more accessible album, but it still sounded like two fleshy robots short-circuiting during the climax of Saturday Night Fever.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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01.16.2017
10:30 am
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Wham! Bam! The true history of Plastic Bertrand’s immortal 1977 Euro-punk anthem ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’
11.03.2016
09:34 am
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“Wham! Bam! My cat ‘Splash’ rests on my bed. She’s swallowed her tongue while drinking all my whiskey.” That’s the nonsensical opening line to the 1977 radio hit “Ça plane pour moi” by Plastic Bertrand translated from French to English, however, the lyrics don’t seem to make any sense in either language. Widely considered a caricature of the punk era, the three-chord rocker “Ça plane pour moi” (which loosely translates as “This Life’s for Me”) became an anthem for a generation and remains a cult favorite to this day. However, over 30 years after its deranged pop insanity sold millions of copies around the world Bertrand finally admitted that he did not sing the vocals himself, nor indeed any of the vocals from the four acclaimed albums he released as Plastic Bertrand before vanishing from sight in 1982. So how’d this Belgian prankster pull a Milli Vanilli on the world and get away with it for so long?

In summer of ‘77, Belgian producer Lou Deprijck recorded “Ça plane pour moi” at the famous Morgan Studios in northwest London very quickly over the course of a single night. “Two hours in the studio followed by three hours in the pub next door,” Deprijck recounted. He sang the vocal track himself as a pastiche to the punk movement and an appeal to the pogo-pogo dancing punks he’d seen at nightclubs. Guitarist & engineer Mike Butcher remembers that to speed up the tempo, he did a little bit of tampering in the studio to recreate Johnny Rotten’s vocal style. “The song was recorded at a slow tempo and then accelerated afterward, that’s what gave it that particular sound.” John Valcke from the legendary Belgian pop rock group The Wallace Collection played bass and a local from the Belgian jazz and blues scene named Bob Dartsch played the drums. They were all pleased with the final product when it was complete, however, Lou Deprijck feared the song didn’t suit his particular style or persona.
 

 
A longtime friend of Lou’s, Eric Rie, knew a punk band Hubble Bubble whose 23-year-old drummer Roger Jouret fit the profile perfectly. Roger was fashionable and wore extravagant outfits that were tacky but picture perfect, to them it was as if he fell from the sky at the exact perfect moment in time. He sang terribly, however, most artists at the time were using playback during TV shows. Determined to get his song its due recognition, Lou Deprijck brainstormed a daring plan to form a partnership with Roger.  Roger Jouret was presented as the singer of the “Ça plane pour moi”, and thus Plastic Bertrand was born. “I went to London to buy him a jacket with zippers pierced with safety pins in Malcolm McLaren’s shop, the manager of the Sex Pistols” Deprijck recalls. “When I returned from vacation, three weeks after the album’s release, he was number one everywhere. Honestly, I never thought the song would trigger such a tidal wave. Looking back, I sometimes regret it.”

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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11.03.2016
09:34 am
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