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Brit Boy (England)
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Blur
Blur
by J. Ewing
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A fan's book, 13 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Blur (Paperback)
Freelance writer Jon Ewing's 1996 Blur publication, simply titled 'Blur', was one of the many books which appeared around the same time about one of Britpop's most influential bands, and indeed, one of the British music scenes' biggest ever pop groups, led by the genius who is Damon Albarn OBE, a title which was well deserved. Can you tell I'm a bit of a fan boy? Well yes I am, and like the majority of these early books, 'Blur' is factually incorrect, but it still has much to offer a devotee.

This glossy, A4 colourful paperback is beautifully presented, and contains many excellent photographs of these boys in their prime, both as a group and pictured separately, some of which are full page. The text, which covers their 'Seymour' days right up to the release of album number four 'The Great Escape', is punctuated with regular quotations made by all the band members, which are both funny and inspiring. If you know nothing about Blur besides a little bit about their music, then this softback really isn't a bad introduction to 'The Early Years'. It's a fan's book, and given a topic, naturally a feast on the eyes.

Jon Ewing's 'Blur' also includes a two page chronology, a discography which is spread over six pages with release dates and chart positions, and a handy index presented at the back.

For a more accurate, text-heavy biography of Blur, I highly recommend Stuart Maconie's excellent official account 3862 Days: The Official History of Blur, where the author had full access to each band member.


Trial of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley: Moors Case (Celebrated Trials)
Trial of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley: Moors Case (Celebrated Trials)
by Jonathan Goodman
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars The trail of the century, 12 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This red jacketed hardback book was the first in a short-lived series of books called 'Celebrated Trails', which focuses on the courtroom events of notorious, and not so well-known criminals and how they were brought to justice. The first entry was about the moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, a Manchester based couple who were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of three young people in 1966, two of which they buried on Saddleworth Moor. There were several books published about the case for the next two years, and in 1973, came this one.

The first chapter of this book introduces the moors murders case as best as the prolific true crime author Jonathan Goodman could have done in the early 1970s. Although so much new information has subsequently come to light over the years, Goodman stuck to the main facts that were known at the time, and refrained from making up his own stories like play writer Emlyn Williams who had penned the best-selling, aptly titled book 'Beyond Belief'. From there, the reader is transported back in time, as things move swiftly forward onto the first day of the trial of heinous child murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, introducing the key witnesses, as well as the victim's family members that chose to attend. It was labelled as 'The Trail of the Century', and reading the answers that these two gave in court made my blood boil. Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence against them, they still thought they could get away with it, blaming most on David Smith, who I'll mention later.

This book is well worth having if you are interested in this appalling British murder case, as it tells you exactly what happened during the trial of the accused, and is very specific about the questions that were asked. The result is a very interesting read, and the focus on the trail makes this a most unique book, avoiding the sensationalist route which has been walked over in many publications about the case. It should be noted though that the transcript was abridged, but all of the important and key moments from this landmark event were included.

I must also warn that the book is rather graphic in places, and the full transcript of the twisted couple's tape recording of one of their victims, a ten year old girl begging for mercy, shortly before her death, is also included. The book is illustrated in places with such unique and interesting material as a letter that Ian Brady wrote to his employer to explain why he wouldn't be at work (the day after the final murder), a detailed plan of the couple's home, a series of maps, and the front page of the local 'Gorton & Openshaw Reporter' newspaper on January 1st 1965, with the main story being the search for the couple's youngest victim Lesley Ann Downey (the girl on the tape), a day after her disappearance.

The trial happened like it did, and so the transcript of it will never be out of date, unlike the introduction by Goodman (although it has to be said, what was written as 'background' to the murders, I found no inaccuracies, it's all fact). 'The Trial of Myra Hindley & Ian Brady' is a unique and valuable resource for anyone researching this appalling case.

The appendix contains an update on David Smith, Hindley's brother-in-law who turned her and Ian into the police after witnessing the final murder, with newspaper attracts from 'The Times', covering his 1969 imprisonment for wounding a man who had foolishly, like many others, made his up his mind that he was 'the third moors murderer', and his 1972 acquaintance for the murder of his father. Mr. Smith had a heart time due to the lies that the real murderers had thrown on him, and it is time that the public considered him a hero, not a villain. There is also an update on Hindley, and her antics in Holloway Prison.

I should also add that this book has been republished several times in paperback, and the 1994 edition may be ordered up here: The Moors Murders: The Trial of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. Although the text remains the same, there is an insert of black-and-white photographs which weren't included first time, including pictures of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, two children who the couple had admitted to killing in the mid '80s. Although it was always believed by many that this twisted couple had been responsible for their disappearances, no one was able to say for certain, and so their names didn't appear at all in the first edition of this book.


Cool Britannia/Cool Britannia 2 Box-Set [DVD] [2006]
Cool Britannia/Cool Britannia 2 Box-Set [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Later

5.0 out of 5 stars A double helping of live Britpop and indie music, 11 Feb. 2016
This box set contains the two 'Cool Britannia' entries in the 'Later with Jools Holland' DVD series, both of which can be bought separately.

BBC Two's 'Later is one of my favourite television music shows, hosted by a talented man who truly cares about good music, and as an avid fan of Britpop and all of the '90s bands, I love watching them play on the first 'Cool Britannia' DVD, which features performances (recorded from 1993 to 2003) from the likes of Oasis, Blur, Ash, Supergrass, and later bands such as The Libertines and The Darkness. The artists are neatly presented, not chronically, but alphabetically.

As a bonus, you are allowed to program you're six favourite tracks, so you're allowed to choose which songs you want to hear, in the order you'd like to see them.

Track listing

1 - Ash - Shining Light
2 - Blur - Tender
3 - British Sea Power - Remember Me
4 - Catatonia - Bleed
5 - Coldplay - In My Place
6 - Cornershop - Brimful Of Asha
7 - Doves - The Cedar Room
8 - Echo And The Bunnymen - Nothing Lasts Forever
9 - Elastica - Connection
10 - Elbow Fugitive Motel
11 - Embrace - All You Good Good People
12 - Feeder - Just The Way I'm Feeling
13 - Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
14 - Keane - This Is The Last Time
15 - Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life
16 - Morrissey - Boy Racer
17 - Oasis - I Am The Walrus
18 - Paul Weller - Sunflower
19 - Primal Scream - Movin' On Up
20 - Pulp - Disco 2000
21 - Radiohead - The Bends
22 - Spiritualized - Come Together
23 - Starsailor - Good Souls
24 - Stereophonics - More Life In A Tramps West
25 - Suede - So Young
26 - Super - Furry Animals Something For The Weekend
27 - Supergrass - Caught By The Fuzz
28 - 22-20s - Devil In Me
29 - Beta Band - The Human Being
30 - The Charlatans - Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over
31 - The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love
32 - The Libertines - Up The Bracket
33 - The Verve - Drugs Don't Work
34 - Travis - All I Wanna Do Is Rock

Bonus features include interviews with Doves and Travis, taking about their first ever appearances on 'Later'.

The second volume of 'Cool Britannia', contains a further generous helping of live performances (recorded between 1993 to 2005) of some of the best British rock and pop musicians of the past 30 years. This is a great mix of older and new, with most these excellent artists performing very early on in their careers.

Track listing

1 - Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
2 - Blur - Song 2
3 - Hard-Fi - Hard To Beat
4 - Supergrass - Moving
5 - Radiohead - There There
6 - Bloc Party - Helicopter
7 - New Order - Krafty
8 - The Futureheads - Decent Days And Nights
9 - The Verve - Lucky Man
10 - Snow Patrol - Run
11 - Manic Street Preachers - If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
12 - The Libertines - Boys In The Band
13 - Morrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart
14 - The Ordinary Boys - The Talk, Talk, Talk
15 - McAlmont & Butler - Yes
16 - Doves - Black And White Town
17 - Oasis - Cigarettes And Alcohol
18 - Badly Drawn Boy - Silent Sigh
19 - Razorlight - Golden Touch
20 - Stereophonics Just Looking
21 - Keane - Can't Stop Now
22 - The Zutons - You Will You Won't
23 - Ian Brown - Golden Gaze
24 - Go! Team - The The Power Is On
25 - Paul Weller - Leafy Mysteries
26 - Graham Coxon - Freakin' Out
27 - Franz Ferdinand - Michael
28 - Suede - Trash
29 - Hope Of The States - The Red, The White, The Black, The Blue
30 - The Charlatans - Tellin' Stories
31 - Athlete - Tourist
32 - Catatonia - Road Rage
33 - Pulp - This Is Hardcore
34 - The Fall - Blindness
35 - Travis - Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
36 - Coldplay - Trouble
37 - Embrace - Ashes

Bonus features include interviews with Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey, Nicky Wire, New Order, Ian Brown, and Kaiser Chiefs.

For fans of music, and live bands of the indie and Britpop flavour, this is superb entertainment and a good value set.


Glitterbug: B-Sides
Glitterbug: B-Sides

4.0 out of 5 stars A HMV exclusive, 9 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Glitterbug: B-Sides (Audio CD)
The Liverpool formed indie-rock band The Wombats are three talented young men who I've been listening to since the start of their hit making career, and it's always a joy to hear new material from them.

'Glitterbug: B sides' is a four track EP which, although able to download on most of the usual sources, was only available to buy as a physical CD in HMV music stores.

The mother album Glitterbug is a typically upbeat record filled with catchy pop/rock songs that will have you hooked from the first listen. This EP, housed in a slim cardboard slipcase contains four songs which don't appear on that release.

The opening track 'Right Click Save' is a stomping, edgy rocker, with a melody that I can't get out my head. '21st Century Blues' is another a catchy song, and 'Wired Differently' is also good, though inferior to the rest. The final track is the Bastille remix of 'Greek Tragedy, one of the album's highlights, and the production here is much slower and laid back, which manages to turn into a completely different song.

If you like The Wombats, then 'Glitterbug: B Sides' is a nice little collectable that's well worth having in it's psychical form if you're a collector.


Dreamin My Dreams (+Bonus)
Dreamin My Dreams (+Bonus)
Price: £43.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Marianne's country album, 9 Feb. 2016
Dreamin' My Dreams was Marianne Faithfull's first studio album after almost ten years away from the recording studio, due to much personal turmoil and addition.

This eagerly awaited record was released two years before Marianne's remarkable 1979 'Broken English' album, which provided her with a real comeback, a dramatic change of song, and a return to critical acclaim and charts across the world. Nobody could have predicted such a release as 'Broken English', but keen fans were given a taster, the raw, vices damaged voice that you hear on that record, is the same one that you'll find here, if not a little bit held back.

Dreamin My Dreams', later reissued as 'Faithless' with extra tracks, is down and out country, and I imagine that some fans of Marianne might not care a great deal for it. If you enjoy country music though, you'll really appreciate this one. Personally, I would never consider it among my favourite Faithfull albums, and I am wavering between a three and a four star. Nevertheless, I have gone with four, because I think there is enough good stuff here to justify such a rating.

The yearning title track (which topped the singles chart over in Ireland) is very bittersweet, and I do like her cover Jackie DeShannon's 'Vanilla Olay' (a song I first discovered via the model Twiggy's debut album). However, my favourites are the graceful 'The Way You Want Me To Be', her interpretation of Bob Dylan's 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight', the weepy 'I'm Not Lisa' (which I first heard on a Tanya Tucker compilation), and the jolly, up-tempo 'All I Wanna Do In Life'. Marianne herself co-wrote one of songs here, 'Lady Madelaine'.

It's good and bad in equal measure, but an important album in Faithfull's long and interesting career. There is nothing particularly 'great' on offer, but Marianne's singing nails it.

Track Listing

1. Dreamin’ My Dreams
2. Fairytale Hero
3. This Time
4. I’m Not Lisa
5. The Way You Want Me to Be
6. Wrong Road Again
7. All I Wanna Do in Life
8. I’m Looking For Blue Eyes
9. Somebody Loves You
10. Vanilla O’Lay
11. Lady Madeleine
12. Sweet Little Sixteen


Blazing Away [VHS]
Blazing Away [VHS]
VHS

5.0 out of 5 stars Flourishing on the stage, 9 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Blazing Away [VHS] (VHS Tape)
It's a crying shame that the original video masters of 'Blazing Away' have been lost, meaning that a DVD release is highly unlikely. This VHS tape was released in 1990 to partner the CD version of the same name: Blazing Away, and it's one of the best live performance I own by any artist.

This was staged and filmed back in 1989, the venue was the St. Anne's Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, and here, the great songstress was in her element, flourishing on the stage, relaxed and having fun, smoking cigarettes, and embracing her warm audience.

I'd even go as far to say that her live vocals actually often manage to top the studio versions of some of these amazing songs, particularly on her reading of the dramatic, explicit poet 'Why'd You Do It?', which she absolutely rips apart, whilst managing to still deliver a more tongue-in-cheek version than the one she cut in the recording studio. As Marianne has said many times, most of her songs are at least loosely based about her, and as a result we feel like the great lady is delivering an autobiography in musical form here.

The beautiful country-favoured heartbreaker 'The Ballad of Lucy Jordon' (yes, I know it was a cover of a minor hit by Dr Hook, but it works far better with a woman singing, especially this one), about a bored housewife's breakdown is one of her cleverest songs, The first song that the Rolling Stones ever wrote, 'As Tears Go By', was her debut hit, and here it is given the slower and superior treatment, her cover of Lennon's 'Working Class Hero' still gives me goosebumps. 'Sister Morphine', which she co-wrote with Mick Jagger in 1968 had never sounded so good as it did on the night of this concert. I also have to highlight a wonderful version of 'She Moves The Fair', which serves as a nod to her days as a folky-pop singer.

Marianne's voice is truly incredible here, dark., moody, mournful and as powerful as it could be, the expression and feeling she puts into these songs of her life is amazing. Her band is red hot, and to be honest, they deserve a paragraph devoted to them exclusively praising them.

The film is very well put together, with atmospheric, black-and-white shots from outside the impressive church and elsewhere mixed in together with the footage of Marianne singing, which contributes to the visual quality. In between the well chosen song choices, there are short black-and-white interviews with the woman herself, who reveals to us the meanings behind these gems, and what they mean to her personally.

'Blazing Again' is a shining gem for Marianne Faithful's true admirers, and deserves it's place in any self-respecting fan's collection. She's something else, deserved to become a huge chart artist, and like I said, the fact that this video will probably never make it onto disc is another major crime.

The set list:
1. Prisons Du Roy
2. Falling From Grace
3. Blue Millionaire
4. Strange Weather
5. Guilt
6. Sister Morphine
7. Working Class Hero
8. When I Find My Life
9. The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
10. As Tears Go By
11. Why D'ya Do It
12. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
13. Broken English
14. Times Square


In Hollywood [DVD] [2005]
In Hollywood [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Marianne Faithfull
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A legend on the stage, 9 Feb. 2016
This review is from: In Hollywood [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
There are surprisingly very few DVDs available of the legendary Marianne Faithfull, one of the genuine survivors of the 1960s, and so that alone makes 'Live in Hollywood' worth having straight away.

Recorded in Hollywood in the spring of 2005, Marianne, now a well persevered 59 year old, delivers highlights from her then latest album 'Before the Poison' as well as a large helping of her greatest hits from the late '70s onwards. The musicians are superb, and Marianne, with her voice now cracked like an egg, is, in my opinion. more appealing than ever. At the gig, she demonstrated what a real trooper she is on that stage, strutting her stuff, and performing each song with enormous feeling. I couldn't take my eyes of this woman, and her audience, as they were so keen to shout out, truly ''love'' her.

The picture and sound quality of the DVD is very good, but I would say that this release was probably for her big fans only, as anyone expecting to hear her old 1960s folk numbers (aside from 'Tears Go By', the first song penned by The Stones) with that haunting voice, won't hear any of them here, and certainly not delivered in that once angelic voice. The live version here of the controversial 'Why D'ya Do It' is the best I've ever heard, with the trumpet player on fire. Buy this DVD, and embrace a legend.

The set list:
1. Trouble in Mind
2. Falling from Grace
3. Mystery of Love
4. Ballad of Lucy Jordon
5. She
6. No Child of Mine
7. The Last Song
8. Kissin' Time
9. Times Square
10. Working Class Hero
11. Incarceration of the Flower Child
12. Strange Weather
13. Guilt
14. As Tears Go By
15. Sister Morphine
16. Crazy Love
17. Broken English
18. Why D'ya Do It

Bonus material:
1. Interview
2. There is a Ghost - Video Portrait

This two-disc combo also comes together with a CD album of the same gig, which contains the following tunes in this order:
1. Trouble In My Mind
2. Falling From Grace
3. She
4. The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
5. No Child Of Mine
6. The Last Song
7. Kissin' Time
8. Times Square
9. Working Class Hero
10. Incarceration Of The Flower Child
11. As Tears Go By


The Bad Education Movie [DVD]
The Bad Education Movie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Whitehall
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The funniest school trip in recent memory, 7 Feb. 2016
I'm a big fan of Jack Whitehall, in just about everything he does he always effortlessly charms on both the stage and screen, and makes me laugh. As an avid viewer of his BBC Three television sitcom 'Bad Education', I was excited, and had only a small bit of fear about the big screen adaption which was released last year. Whilst 'The Bad Education Movie' is ridiculous beyond words, a stupid British movie in the nicest possible sense, there are more than enough laughs to make you want to see it all the way through. If you liked the series, you'll like the film.

Jack reprises his role as Alfie Wickers, who is quite probably the most inappropriate and unfit teacher to ever led a bevvy of rowdy and characterful pupils in the world. Whilst he should never have been given to this position, there really is no other teacher who cares more about these kids than Alfie does. As he doesn't have any real friends of his own, he regards his pupils as his personal friends, and despite the constant pranking, they are very loyal to him. about these kids than Alfie does. As he doesn't have any real friends of his own, he regards his pupils as his personal friends, and despite the constant pranking, they are very loyal to him. As a viewer, you can't help but love the man, and feel sorry for him as well. The bottom line is, his heart's in the right place.

The class are now in their final year, and about to take their GCSEs, so Alfie decides to treat them to one last school trip - to Cornwall. At first, it looks as though the venture isn't going to be as fun as the teacher intends it to be when PTA member Susan Poulter (Joanna Scanlan), the mother of one of the kids who would love to see him get sack, decides to come along as well.

I don't wish to reveal anymore about the plot, but whilst it does get overall silly towards the end as the action sets in, there is plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to be had before and after. If you're easily offended, then chances are you won't find the plentiful, very vulgar humour as funny as I did. The picture it paints of Cornwall is most unflattering, but it was obviously done tongue-in-cheek. Those who find Jack Whitehall attractive might well be interested to know that you get to see quite a lot of him in a rather different sense throughout. Major regulars of the show like the headmaster Fraser (Matthew Horne) only appear relatively briefly, and as well as Susan Poulter's brand new character, there is a host of famous faces who join the show's franchise including Sheila Reid who is perhaps best known as Madge in 'Benidorm'. In all, this is a whole lot of fun that I know I'll be watching a few times over.

Many sitcoms have been granted a big screen adaption, and sometimes it works, whereas some have failed miserably, hence why I was a little nervous at how it would be for one of my favourite comedy series in recent times. To my delight though, 'Bad Education' is one of the successful ones, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I don't believe that you have to be even familiar with the programme to be able to won by this, as it could quite easily be entertaining as a standalone British comedy flick. In the end, I thought that 'The Bad Education Movie' was a fitting ending to a quirky little programme, even though those who already are fans will probably notice a few inconsistencies, I found it easy to look past them.

For special features, the DVD has several deleted scenes from the movie, along with short interview featurettes with Jack and his co-stars about the character of Alfie Wickers, as well as their personal memories of their own school trip experiences.


Beautiful Hits
Beautiful Hits

4.0 out of 5 stars A fine interpreter of songs, 6 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Beautiful Hits (Audio CD)
One of the big names from the Woodstock generation, American Melanie Safka was essentially a folk singer, but her music always had a pop/rock flavour to it. This generous 19 track compilation collects together all the sublime cover versions that she recorded for a 2003 studio album called 'Moments from my Life', and 'Beautiful Hits' expands on it's original track listing.

Melanie has a very distinctive voice, it really is like marmite, and you'll either love it or hate it, but I definitely fall into the latter category of listeners. Although that voice has changed a little seen those first hit records of hers in the early '70s, it still sounds fabulous, full of raw emotion and passion.

Here, she recorded an interesting and varied collection of songs, all of which are very well known, but she didn't deliver exact copies of them. Instead, she made them her own, performing everyone her own unique way, and often successfully changing the feel of the tune dramatically. This is well demonstrated with her interpretations of Culture Club's Do You Really Want to Hurt Me', and 'the tired Gloria Gaynor hit 'I Will Survive', which has been done by everyone from Robbie Williams to Lynne Perrie. Melanie gives this, and many others, including top versions of Elton John's 'I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues' and Mary Hopkins' 'Those Were the Days', a very different meaning.

Other gems on here include a fine version of Cat Steven's 'Peace Train', a gorgeous take of The Seekers' 'I'll Never Find Another You', and The Rolling Stones' 'As Tears Go By', without quite managing to top Marianne Faithfull's 1987 re-recording. Far from sounding like a retro artist, the production on each of these songs is very sleek and modern indeed, so much so that those expecting any different will surly be surprised, there's a lot of great instrumental backing.

If you want to own another album which will complement a Melanie greatest hits package, then 'Beautiful Hits' is a perfect partner. This is a superb collection of covers, which will enchant and erase the originals from your mind whilst listening. The packaging of the CD is very simple, but the music contained on it is wonderful.


The Visit [DVD]
The Visit [DVD]
Dvd ~ Deanna Dunagan
Price: £10.00

3.0 out of 5 stars An intentional combination of horror and humour, 5 Feb. 2016
This review is from: The Visit [DVD] (DVD)
Perhaps it was the fact that I walked into this film with rather low expectations, but I really rather enjoyed 'The Visit'. Sure, it is by no means a great entry in modern American horror, but then again, the whole 'found footage' thing isn't really known for excelling in that particular genre anyway.

Written, produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, best known for 'The Sixth Sense', 'The Visit' chronicles the week-long stay in Pennsylvania of quirky, inspiring film makers Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), two young teenagers who are meeting their grandparents for the very first time. Their mother Paula (Kathryn Hahn) hasn't seen her parents in 15 years, after she fell for a high-school teacher, fled the nest, and her relationship with the older man quickly fizzled out. Eager for more information about what happened, Rebecca and Tyler, a rap enthusiast, decide to film a documentary chronicling their visit to dear old 'Pop Pop' and 'Nana'. Within a day of being there, it's clear that something is not quite right with their elderly relations.

On a whole, I thought that 'The Visit' was quite a neat little film, although far away from the sheer quality of Shyamalan's masterpiece 'The Sixth Sense'. There is a constant creepy atmosphere throughout, a tension which only increases, great performances from the two young actors, and lots of genuinely very funny moments, all of which, unlike a lot of so-called 'horrors', was intentional. The twist towards the end, although probably predictable with hindsight, was one which I never saw coming. In short, this is a thoroughly entertaining flick, and although perfect for the teenage horror enthusiast audience, might provide just a too little for some adults.

The DVD contains the moving alternative ending, and several deleted scenes.


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