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Thursday, 4 April 2019

The S4L Exit Interview with Doug Part1

It is customary, so I'm told, that when a person leaves a job etc that they undergo an "Exit Interview" and over the years I have been asked loads of questions regarding music: my likes, dislikes, favourites, best and worst gigs and so many more. So I thought as a spot of fun I would try and recall some of those questions (and I can't recall who asked them so I will just attribute them to S4L!) and do my very own "Exit Interview" as I finish up with Soundtrack4Life after twelve years.

There's lots of links down below and I hope you click on them to check out some of the music that has formed the Soundtrack to my Life.

S4L: When you began Soundtrack4Life back on MySpace did you ever imagine that more than a decade later you would have still been doing it?

Doug: MySpace, man, remember that? I don't recall how long I did it on there but think I moved over to Blogger when I forgot my MySpace password one day and never went back. I started it really just for me and not with anyone else in mind but somehow it seemed to get out there in the world wide web and folks begun checking in and reading it.  It's funny seeing that it's been read all around the world, I can't really explain why because it's not like it's something like NME!

S4L: How did you go about getting it known?  

Doug: I never really did anything apart from posting links on places like Facebook and various groups I am in on that platform. Also some people have kindly shared the links on their own pages and so that's really the way it has spread. For the record it's worth mentioning that in the 12 years I have been doing it on Blogger I have not advertised, had celebrity endorsements, accepted bribes from bands/artists to feature their music. Some have kindly sent me a copy of an album that I have spotlighted but more often than not the bands that I have focused upon have received  free adverstising for their wares via the various links and playlists that I included on posts!

S4L: Did you think you had something to say regarding music that wasn't being said elsewhere?

Doug: No not really. I just wanted to share some of the music that has meant something to me and also new music that had been impressing me. I didn't want to be all "music journalist-like" and be all flowery in language to the point where you wouldn't have a clue what on earth I was talking about. I just wanted it to be basic and more often than not just allow the music to stand out and speak for itself.

S4L: What's your favourite song of all time?

Doug: I don't even have to think too much about the answer because it has not changed for decades. I grew up listening to Buddy Holly and The Crickets and this track has been top of the list since I was a kid!

 Rave On - Buddy Holly
Coral 1958

S4L: With regard to the music you grew up with who were the bands/artists that made a deep and lasting impression on you that still stands today?

Doug: We always had music in our house and there was a real mix of styles, everything from Pop, Soul, Rock and Roll, Country, Reggae etc. As I've gotten older I have probably slipped back into that mould listening to many different genres rather than spotlighting one particular sound because there's so much good music out there from the past and the present.

As to what bands/artists I was listening to then that I am still listening to now there are so many so I'll briefly give you a few of them: The Mamas and The Papas, The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Status Quo, Slade, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Otis Redding, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly and The Crickets (as mentioned above) and Bruce Springsteen.

S4L: When did you first seriously start to buy music rather than just hearing it on the radio or watching it on TV?

Doug: Well I had a few prior to that but it was being a teenager when it first got pretty serious. I had a paper round and a milk round so that meant I had some money I could put into the coffers of the local record shops.

S4L: Any particular albums/singles that really stood out back then?
Doug: The Teenage Depression Album and Single by Eddie and the Hot Rods in 1976 certainly made a huge impression upon me as did Dr Feelgood's Stupidity album. This was at a time when Punk was springing up and it was those two albums that led me to listening to Punk music. They of course weren't Punk bands but they did have a bit of that angry young men persona about them. There wasn't that many Punk records around back in 1976 until The Damned released New Rose and the Sex Pistols issued Anarchy in the UK
The only other one I really remember from back then was the debut album from the Ramones which I heard a lot of played on John Peel's Radio Show and it was a crazy record of buzzsaw guitars, very fast tunes, lyrics that weren't exactly too deep with meaning yet possessing some heavy attitude and certainly sounding out of step with a lot of what was going on musically at the time.

The following year (1977) was a big year for buying music as so many more of the Punk bands begun releasing music. The release of Damned Damned Damned in February 1977 was a turning point as it was the first of the UK Punk albums. I always loved the cover as it really did stand out when you saw it in a Record Shop! Hearing it for the first time was a bit like listening to the chaotic sound of Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges that had come out in 1973 (which I only heard for the first time a short while before The Damned album was released)!
S4L: Were you only listening to Punk music then?

Doug: Mostly Punk but also Reggae and then some of the stuff like Status Quo was still something I enjoyed and also hearing Graham Parker and The Rumour for the first time as well was pretty cool. I was also a bit of a fan of Peter Gabriel who released his first solo album that year (it was considered very un-Punk to listen to such things but hey, I have always thought that if a song, single, album is good then it shouldn't matter what little box it fits into! Plus I hated that kind of snobbishness that crept into Punk when all of a sudden you went from no rules as to what you could wear or listen to and were then forced to fit into a media defined view of what Punk was and what you had to wear and what you were not allowed to listen to!).

S4L: Do you have any favourite Reggae albums from around this time?

Doug:  Between 1976-78 there were a few Reggae albums that for me were really standout records. Firstly my favourite Reggae album of all time, which was released in 1978 on Greensleeves, Dr Alimantado's Best Dressed Chicken in Town.
A close second would be Two Sevens Clash by Culture released on Joe Gibbs Record Globe in 1977 and then issued in the UK on Lightning Records in 1978.
And a third one would be M.P.L.A. by Tapper Zukie that was released on Klik in 1976 and if I remember correctly I bought it when it was reissued on Virgin's Front Line label in 1978 (though I did buy the single from a local Reggae Record Store in Sydenham, South East London not long after hearing it for the first time around 1977).
S4L: With so many Punk Singles coming out in 1977 are there any that really spoke into your own situation being a teenager at the time?

Doug: Man, there were so many. It's hard to choose as some were more important than others and of course there were one-off singles from bands who basically spilit up not long after they released them.

S4L: Give us a few examples.

Doug: At the start of the year there was the excellent Spiral Scratch EP by Buzzcocks on New Hormones. A band didn't even need a major label to release a record, they could do it themselves. This one is thought of as one of the first "Independent" Singles (at least of the Punk scene).
It was funny that vocalist Howard Devoto left the band shortly after it was released. Thank goodness that the rest of the band carried on because they would go on to make some excellent singles and a few great albums!
Freeze/Man of the Year by the Models on Step Forward Records was another cracker. The band split not long after with Marco Pirroni later resurfacing and getting some success with Adam and The Ants.
White Riot/1977 by The Clash was also one that eagerly awaited seeing that they were named among the top three of the UK Punk bands (with The Damned and Sex Pistols). 
I have no idea why Island released Do Anything You Wanna Do under the name The Rods instead of Eddie and The Hot Rods but it's a real gem and another (although not technically a Punk record) that spoke into my teenage years (along with their song Quit This Town) about breaking out and being someone who I wanted to be and not confined to the expectations that others had for me.

God Save The Queen by the Pistols was probably an other that made a huge impact on me (and many others). This was as highly anticipated as The Clash debut single because the band had been trying to find a new label after becoming almost persona non grata in the UK due to their firing from EMI and then A&M (who were originally scheduled to release the single). Thankfully Virgin stepped up and took a chance with them and this single created such a stir. 

I remember we got a DJ to actually play White Riot, In The City (The Jam) and God Save the Queen at a Jubilee Party and there the people were happily dancing away until it clicked with someone what was thundering out of the speakers! We were sent packing and reminded afresh that being a punk was a bit like being a leper, you were deemed so unclean that it was impossible for you to remain in the company of "normal people"!
I could probably fill a whole blog on the singles that made a mark on me. Here's a last one for the moment. It was released in 1978 by Subway Sect (they had played at the Punk Festival at the 100 Club in 1976 and toured with The Clash on The White Riot Tour). Nobody's Scared/Don't Split It was a magnificent single I reckon.

I think the thing that stood out with these releases and others that came out was that the B-Side begun to matter and wasn't just a throwaway track.

S4L: The full title of the blog is Soundtrack4Life: The B-Sides, why did you add that little phrase to the title?

Doug: I sometimes forget that I had done that. I guess the reasoning behind it was that the B-Side is not always seen as important than the A-Side of a 7" Single. In a way I was probably selling myself a bit short as well by offering the possibility that this blog had nothing really to say and would be deemed by some as an irrelevance. 

But as I said the B-Sides started to become just as important with the whole Punk scene. Take as an example the B-Side of Gary Gilmore's Eyes by The Adverts.
Flip that single over and you have a stone cold Punk classic with Bored Teenagers:

"We're just bored teenagers
Looking for love
Or should I say emotional rages
Bored teenagers
Seeing ourselves as strangers"

It just expressed exactly what we were feeling at the time. I could probably mention a whole load more as well and there's not really time to go into the whole issue of songs that started out life as a B-Side that became the big hit or even those classic songs that record labels stuck on B-Sides almost as if they were subpar songs when actually they were better than A-Side! I could make a whole compilation of those types of tunes!

S4L: We have spent time talking about Punk singles and you have already mentioned a couple of Punk albums that made an impact on you. I wonder, as we finish up this first part, if you could give us five other albums from around the time of the Punk scene between 1977-79 that are still regarded by you as special?

Doug: Only five? Man, that is some task! It goes without saying that one of the first that should be on that small list is the debut album by The Clash.
Forty two years ago on the 8th April CBS released this "manifesto" from Strummer and Co. that was raw, a bit shouty vocally, musically not anything like Yes or Pink Floyd but had a whole bucket load of attitude and streetwise sensibility. It also contained an epic cover of Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves which was a real eye opener and showed a little of the that Punk/Reggae crossover.

X-Ray Spex debut album Germ Free Adolescents is another absolute classic in my book. It wasn't mad crazy rebellion that was on offer here but a glimpse of a possible future world. 

(I'm) Stranded by The Saints (released in 1977 on Harvest EMI) was a cracker as well and proved that Punk was not just a UK thing (as they hailed from Australia). Their single (not featured on the album) This Perfect Day absolutely floored me when I first heard and saw it on Top of the Pops and still sounds great. Bruce Springsteen thinks that people should listen to this album as well and I think his endorsement is probably better than mine!

When I first heard the debut single from New York's Televison, Little Johnny Jewel (purchased from HMV, Oxford Street, London, on import), I was a bit underwhelmed as I had read a lot of good things about them and the single kinda sucked! Then I heard See No Evil on the radio and thought surely it couldn't be the same band! Much to my surprise it was, and Marquee Moon remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

For the last one it would almost be too easy to go with the Pistols, Blondie or another Ramones album so instead I'm going to go with this one.

Another Kind of Blues was the debut album from U.K. Subs, released on Gem Records in September 1979. I throw it into the ring for two reasons. Firstly, because I can, and secondly, because it's a mighty fine record. I have lost count of how many times I saw them live and I have so many fond memories of their shows (like I have with other bands but just in a different way). Also I love the fact that Charlie Harper is still fronting the band (despite being old enough to be my Grandad!) all these years on and they are still tearing up stages around the world with this uncompromising sound that they have rarely strayed from since they began in 1976!

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Remembering...The Musical Legacy of Ranking Roger (21st February 1963 - 26th March 2019)

Ranking Roger (born as Roger Charlery)
Birmingham, England
21st February 1963 - 26th March 2019

I did not expect in my last bunch of posts to be doing a piece dealing with the loss of a musician who was actually the same age that I will be in a couple of months time (56)!

Below you will find lots of links to singles/albums and even a live show. Click on them to enjoy the musical legacy of one of England's most beloved entertainers. This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything he ever played on but it will give you a taster for a lot of the great music he has left behind. We honour him best when we keep playing the music he shared with us... loud and with lots of dancing!

Around 9pm last night I read of the sad news that Ranking Roger of The Beat had died. The Beat website and FB page had posted this simple message:

“He fought & fought & fought, Roger was a fighter.”
Sadly Roger past away a few hours ago peacefully at his home surrounded by family.
Roger’s family would like to thank everyone for their constant support during this tough time. More to follow in the coming days. RIP ROGER

It was very sad news indeed when you consider that in the past year he had been hospitalized with a suspected mini-stroke, had surgery upon two brain tumours and had been battling against Lung Cancer.

While he had been dealing with his various health issues he managed to complete work on his biography with his co-writer Daniel Rachel entitled 'I Just Can't Stop It: My Life In The Beat' and it is due for publication early Spring or Summer by Omnibus Press. I would think that they might move up the publication date in light of the current news of his passing.

He had also completed a new album by The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger entitled 'Public Confidential' that was released in January this year.

Public Confidential - The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger
DMF Records
Produced by Mick Lister and Ranking Roger
Released 25th January 2019

 Live at The Roundhouse - The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger
DMF Records
Released 8th June 2018

Bounce - The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger
DMF Records
Produced by Mick Lister
Released 30th September 2016

Selected Tracks from Bounce:
Roger was not an original member of The Beat back in 1978 but his Punk band at the time in Birmingham (The Nam Nam Boys) played their first ever gig in support of the band and building on a friendship with the band he begun to "gategrash" their gigs and jump on stage and "Toast". 

He did this many times before officially becoming a member of the band and appeared on their debut hit single for Two Tone Records (it reached #6 in the UK), the Double A-Side Tears of a Clown / Ranking Full Stop (released in November 1979).

UK Chart #3

Singles from the Debut Album
UK Chart #9

UK Chart #4

UK Chart #22

Non Album Single:
UK Chart #7

 Wha'ppen (1981)
UK Chart #3

Special Beat Service (1982)
Select Tracks from the album:
UK Chart #47
UK Chart #45
UK Chart #54

What Is Beat? The Best of The Beat (1983)
Features the singles:
UK Chart #3
UK Chart #54

General Public
All The Rage (1984)
US Chart #26

Singles from the album:
UK Chart #60
UK Chart #95

Hand To Mouth (1986)
US Chart #86

Singles from the album:
Did Not Chart
Canadian Chart #83
Did Not Chart

After a long break General Public returned to the charts in 1994 with a cover of the classic Staples Singers song that appeared in the Soundtrack to the film Threesome.
 UK Chart #73
US Dance Chart #1

Did Not Chart

Single from the album:
US Chart #93
Solo Albums

Other Collaborations

Thursday, 21 March 2019

The S4L Radio Show #3 March 2019: This Could Be The Last Time

"Hang on a minute! Haven't you stopped doing the blog?"

I did say I was going to post a few more pieces before finally hanging up my blogging hat. So don't worry, you haven't walked into a world of Brexit-like indecision!! 😉

For the final playlist I thought I'd bring together a bunch of great new music with a few oldies thrown into the mix for good measure. New music from the likes of Edwyn Collins, The Cranberries, UNKLE, Eli Paperboy Reed, Melissa Etheridge, Suzi Quatro, Hayes Carll, Skinny Lister, Mekons, Gang of Four, Toyah and Paul Weller show off the diversity of sounds that are pounding my ears at present. Some oldies from The Sports, The Stones, Sparks, The Alarm, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Secret Affair round out yet another twenty track playlist. I hope you enjoy it.

Listen to the Playlist Here:

On The Playlist
Who Listens To The Radio - The Sports

The Last Time - Rolling Stones

Get A Grip (The Stranglers Cover) - Nouvelle Vague

from the new album 'Rarites'
Outside - Edwyn Collins
from the new album 'Badbea'
All Over Now - The Cranberries
from the final studio album 'In The End'
The Other Side - UNKLE feat. Tom Smith of The Editors
from the new album 'The Road: Part II Lost Highway'
99 Cent Dreams - Eli Paperboy Reed feat. Big Daddy Kane
from the new album '99 Cent Dreams'
Wild and Lonely - Melissa Etheridge
from the new album 'The Medicine Show'
Macho Man - Suzi Quatro
from the new album 'No Control'
Times Like These - Hayes Carll
from the new album 'What It Is'
Rattle & Roar - Skinny Lister
from the new album 'The Story is...'
Lawrence of California - Mekons
from the new album 'Deserted'
Paper Thin - Gang of Four
from the new album 'Happy Now'
The Number One Song In Heaven - Sparks
featured on the 40th Anniversary Edition of 'No. 1 in Heaven'
Sensational - Toyah
from the 2019 re-imagining of Toyah’s album 'In the Court of the Crimson Queen'
One Step Closer To Home - The Alarm
from the album 'Strength'. A new Remastered version of the album 'Strength 1985-86' has just recently been released.
Land of Hope and Dreams (Live) - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
from the album 'Live In New York City'
Movin' On (Live) - Paul Weller
from the new album 'Other Aspects - Live at The Royal Festival Hall'

The Parting Shot
When The Show's Over - Secret Affair
from the album 'Behind Closed Doors'

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

I Want To Thank You

Kind and Generous - Natalie Merchant

I wanted to take a moment to say a few things following the announcement yesterday that I will be winding up this Blog after 12 years (yikes! Has it really been that long?). 

My friend Wooders, a down to earth Yorkshireman whose words of encouragement mean a world to me told me yesterday that I shouldn't be bothered about numbers and should continue posting the blog and a few others have contacted me via Email and messaging services likewise to continue at it. While I am extremely grateful for that enouragement I just wanted to say that the number issue is actually one of many reasons for stopping but not really the main reason.

I have mentioned in the past that I have been having issues of concentration and sometimes struggling over a couple of days to do a post and that the culprit behind this is a by-product of my Epilepsy and the medications I have to take for controlling that. My natural choice would of course be to continue but the struggle to think clearly at times and the over-bearing tiredness that comes with exercising my mind too much when I am trying to write is something I don't necessarily want to always be experiencing. I hope that is something folks will try and understand.

So, in this post I wanted to mainly say a BIG THANK YOU to my friends who have supported me via this blog, and the many people around the world who have visited Soundtrack4Life and maybe found a piece of music that has thrilled their heart and has ended up being part of their very own Soundtrack4Life. Without you reading this I really don't think I would have gone on for 12 years!!

I would also like to offer a word of thanks to the bands/artists who have over the years been kind enough to agree to do an interview with me for the blog (You can see all the interviews here). I only wish that I had taken the time to do more because there are so many great artists/bands with stories to tell.

Thanks also should be extended to a few folks who have been a guest blogger (you know who you are) on Soundtrack4Life. Again I wish that I had been a bit more proactive in encouraging more to participate because it's always pleasant reading about music from someone else's perspective. Not only the guest bloggers but also those who have been kind enough to provide a quote I could use in a particular piece. To each and everyone of you I am extremely grateful.

This post will be #3190 and not a single one of them would have been possible were it not for the musicians, bands, artists, albums, live concerts, 7" Singles etc and to be incredibly cheesy and to totally rip the song out of context I say with those loveable Swedes called ABBA, "THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC". Without the music this blog would have been nothing to write home about!

The artist that I have posted about on this Blog more than any other is Bruce Springsteen (Click here to see all 413 posts...that will keep you busy for a long long time!). Whether it be talking about live shows, promo videos, tours, his records and even particular songs. It's a strange thing trying to explain what a guy from New Jersey means to a boy who grew up in South East London and for the past 30 years has resided in Scotland but I hope that it's his music more than my reasons for liking him that is the reason that so many Bruce fans (and not necessarily Bruce fans) took the time to read each post and even share them with their friends and other fan groups.

The most read post on this Blog was a Bruce Springsteen one from 2014 where I basically put together a list of all the songs performed on the High Hopes Tour with links to each song (all 181 of them!).

The other band that I have posted a lot about over the years has been The Alarm (110 posts to be exact) and Mike Peters. I am sure that there will be more music from them this coming year that will continue to thrill me with wonder.

All manner of Musical Styles have been explored over the years from Rock 'n' Roll, Sixties Soul, Heavy Rock, Nu-Metal, Rock, Punk Rock, New Wave, Post-Punk, Mod Revivalist, Pop, Soul, Gospel, Country, Americana, the Blues, Reggae/Ska, even Classical has slipped into the mix! I hope that there's been a little something for everyone, in the end it's easy to put things in nice little boxes but I hope that folks have seen that it's actually the music itself and not the particular style that has been the thing that has spurred me on doing this blog.

So in finishing up this post, I can only repeat the words of the song posted at the begining of piece, the beautiful words of Natalie Merchant, "I Want To Thank You, Thank You!"


Monday, 18 March 2019

Beginning of the End?

I am probably not the only Blogger who has noticed a downturn in traffic to their Blog ever since Google announced the coming end of their service Google+

I got a lot of people discovering the Blog via that service and now with that being discontinued it looks like the only means of promoting the blog is on Facebook via my own profile page and various groups that I belong to on it and I have noticed that even via that platform the numbers are down.

I had never been really interested in the numbers, as when I started this blog it was mainly for me but then there was what seemed like an explosion of interest from across the globe and it held out an opportunity of being able to share some of the music that I have been very passionate about down throught the years.

Choosing the title of the Blog as Soundtrack4Life was a big thing as I felt the things that I wanted to share would be those records, artists and bands who have made a distinct impression on my own life.

So it's a bit sad after all these years to be contemplating winding it all up and stopping posting anything new. I won't actually delete the blog as someone out there searching around the World Wide Web might stumble upon it and find something that will delight their heart.

In the next couple of weeks or so you will probably see the last bunch of posts from me. I will no doubt post each one with a very heavy heart because this blog has been something that has been a real labour of love over the years but the fact that it is getting read by fewer people on a daily, weekly and monthly basis seems to me to be a reason to say a final farewell.

I'll finish up this first one with a cracker of a song from a band who are also saying goodbye this year, they are currently on tour with Stiff Little Fingers and getting a great send off around the country. Here's Eddie and The Hot Rods peforming on The Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1978 a storming version of the final track on their 1977 album 'Life On The Line'...It's 'Beginning of the End'.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Revisiting Generation X - Generation X (1978)

Generation X - Generation X
Produced by Martin Rushent
Released 17th March 1978
UK Charts #29

Generation X
    Billy Idol − vocals
    Tony James − bass and vocals
    Bob "Derwood" Andrews − guitar and vocals
    Mark Laff − drums and vocals

US Version of the Album
Listen, The Insvisible Man and Too Personal were replaced on this edition with:

Single from the album
 A-Side: Ready Steady Go
B-Side: No No No
Released 7th February 1978
UK Chart #47


I did a piece on this particular album a few years ago but seeing that a number of links etc were dead on it I thought I would raise it back to life again on the 41st Anniversary of its release.

Generation X were there right there in 1976 when Punk began to explode in the UK. People seem to forget that Tony James, William Broad (Billy Idol) and John Towe were all originally part of Chelsea with Gene October. They jumped the good ship Chelsea after Gene had thought James/Broad were becoming too creatively dominant and so they abandoned October and took John Towe with them for good measure!  Derwood joined on guitar and Broad (who had changed his name to Billy Idol) took vocal duties and they played their debut on the 10th December at Central School of Art and Design in London and then on 14th December 1976 they played their second show at a new venue called The Roxy (the first of the Punk bands to do so). Towe left the band and Mark Laff (ex-Subway Sect) joined on drums in time for their signing to Chrysalis Records.

There always seemed to be a bit of jealousy regarding Generation X, especially among the male world of Punk and I think that had a lot to do with Billy and Co. being a darn sight more handsome than most bands around at the time! I always find it funny that some people don't really regard them as Punk but as some of of Bandwagon Jumpers (clearly forgetting their history!).

I loved the early singles, and the Peel Sessions they did in 1977. The first one in April included Day by Day, Listen!, Youth Youth Youth and Your Generation. John Towe was still drumming for them on that session. The second session from July 1977 included From the Heart, Rock On, Gimmie Some Truth and No No No. Mark Laff was on drums for this session.

As for the album I still think it stands up as great record. Personally I don't think there's a bad track on it. It was basically their live set so I was pretty much aware of most, if not all, of the songs when it was released. It was recorded over the space of a week at the TW Studios in Fulham. All the songs were written by Idol/James (except on the US release where Gimmie Some Truth was a cover of a song by John Lennon).
It maybe had a more Punky Pop edge to it that some people didn't like (which is funny because they had ditched Phil Wainman as Producer in favour of Martin Rushent because they felt he made them sound too Pop and they wanted a more harder-edged sound! Not totally sure they got that, but on their second album which is 40 years old this year, Valley of the Dolls - released 26th January 1979 and produced by Ian Hunter they certainly got a wee touch of it). 
I loved it the moment it came out and it's an album that still gets an airing in my house to this day.


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