More “Here Piggy Piggy Piggy” (The Dark Side of the Pig)

Here Piggy Piggy Piggy 2

From underneath the pig, Wembley Stadium 14th Sept. 2013:

  • This was Roger’s first (and to be last) show at Wembley Stadium
  • Roger played 4 times solo at the Wembley Arena (Empire Pool)
  • The Floyd (with RW) played 14 times at the Empire Pool (Wembley Arena)
  • The Floyd (w/o RW) played twice at Wembley Stadium (I was there 6th Aug. 1988)
  • The Wembley Show 14th Sep 2013 was #213 of the modern The Wall tour
  • This Wall tour consisted of 216 shows in 3 years
  • This means Roger’s “gig rate” since this tour began is 20% (meaning he performed the show one in every 5 days over this period)
  • For mere mortals, this equates to a “gig rate” of 30% for someone working a normal job – i.e. if you 5 days a week, with holidays – and they’d perform the largest touring show ever 12 days a month (for 3 years)
  • Roger turned 70 the week before this latest show, so not bad for an old man (HB Roger).

While we’re stat’ing, some on Wembley:

  • The modern Wembley Stadium officially opened in May 2007
  • It is the second largest stadium in Europe, capacity 90k (only the Nou Camp is larger at 99k)
  • It is the second most expensive stadium in the world, cost £800m (only the new Meadowlands in NYC cost more at £1bn)
  • For music shows, such as The Wall, the capacity is 90k (75k seated & 15k standing)
  • The last event at the old (twin towered) Wembley Stadium was England’s 0-1 defeat to West Germany, when Dietmar Hamaan scored the winner (I was there for that too)
  • The last English player to score at the old Wembley Stadium was Tony Adams (really) in May 2000
  • The very first football game at the newly build Wembley Stadium in 1923 had the highest reported attendance of any sporting event, with officially 125k people but unofficially 250k (as the first game was declared “no ticket” thousands showed up to watch, kept off the pitch by police on horseback in the “white horse cup final” of 1923).

Done. As I think Roger is.

Thanks Roger, it’s been good (now please record that new material…)

TC

 

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Floydpodcast.com Goes Live For 200th Show

Brain Damage, the definitive Pink Floyd radio show, on floydpodcast.com, goes “live” this weekend to celebrate its 200th show.

The Doc goes back to his roots as radio DJ to bring us the exceptional floydpodcast.com live and on the air – the podcast we love, real-time!

Broadcast via a flash based stream the show is still free, and still excellent: you can make live requests via Facebook or email. Since 2004 The Doc has been nursing my ears with his unmissable show. Show your support by tuning in and listening to what should be very special show.

All that you do, All that you say.

Catch you there, TC

 

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Storm Thorgerson Passed Away Today

The very sad news today that Storm Thorgerson passed away, age 69, having been ill for some time.

One of the original Cambridge crew of friends, Storm became of the most sought after graphic designers particular in the music industry. From Hipgnosis through to Storm Studios, his work will live on to be enjoyed by us all.

Storm designed the cover for The Dark Side Of The Moon (then drawn by Hipgnosis designer George Hardie) in response to Rick Wright’s request for “something simple and dramatic”. The prism and the refracted light will forever be part of Dark Side.

David Gilmour released a fitting note on Storm.

Many notes of condolence from fans today on Roger’s Facebook page.

The tolling of the iron bell. Thank you Storm for the unforgettable images.

TC

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Dark Side Only Made #2 In The UK (And What Beat It To #1)

The date, 31st March 1973.

The Dark Side Of The Moon entered the UK Official Charts at #2 spot on the 31st March 1973 in the 13th (and unlucky) published chart of 1973. It was in fact the highest position it would make in the UK, and slipped down to 5th the next week. Remarkably in its 40 years of incredible success Dark Side has never been #1 in the UK.

So, what “hugely successful album, from a super-band music-heavy-weight”, beat TDSOTM that week and denied it the opportunity for the #1 spot?… that dubious honour goes to K-tel’s ’20 Flash Back Greats From The Sixties’ by ‘Various Artists’. (Really.)

K-tel 20 Flash Back Greats Of The Sixites

It remained at the top spot for 2 weeks! With hindsight, the success and longevity of Dark Side would make this look quite strange. The week before top spot was taken by ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ by Alice Cooper, and after the imposter’s 2 week stay at the top the next number one was ‘Houses Of The Holy’ by Led Zeppelin. (Not so bad.)

OfficialCharts 1973 w13

Compilation albums sold well at the time. The K-tel compilation albums of the late 1960s and ’70s were the result of a licensing deal between the original ‘As seen on TV’ Canadian marketing giant and the record companies of the day. Ronco, the US equivalent of K-tel, also ‘heavily pushed’ a proliferation of compilation albums from various artists in the ’70s. The Floyd were up against extensive TV advertising ‘muscle’ – a K-tel UK example:

The week after (in the 14th UK chart of 1973) another compilation ’40 Fantastic Hits From The 50s And 60s’, this time from Arcade Records (a Dutch record label specialising in compilations), entered at #2 behind K-tel’s “number one” album, pushing Dark Side further down. The music market was “expanding at a phenomenal rate”, Roger’s own words (1973), and compilations did very well, evidently. 1980s compilations in the UK would go on to be dominated by the (infamous) ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ series.

(The original plan for DS40 was to help Dark Side make #1 in the UK, but the release of the Immersion set put pay to that in 2012. Perhaps we’ll regroup for DS50 in 2023 – and keep our fingers crossed that K-tel doesn’t release a compilation at the same time…)

TC

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40 Years Old – Again!

The “official stated” birthday for Dark Side today: http://darkside40.pinkfloyd.com/

Any excuse to listen…

darkside40(Read here for: actual/real release dates of The Dark Side of the Moon.)

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Dark Side Enters The National Recording Registry

Today The Dark Side Of The Moon was voted into the US National Recording Registry.

The purpose of the Registry is to celebrate and preserve important sound recordings. Those deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.” Recordings are selected yearly by the National Recording Preservation Board, and ‘saved’ in the Library of Congress.

This ‘legislative hall of fame’ is to safeguard America’s sound recording heritage. “Congress created the National Recording Registry to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio heritage and to underscore our responsibility for long-term preservation, to assure that legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations” – sound familiar?

Since 2002, 375 ‘sound artefacts’ have so far been installed, including: Edison’s earliest cylinder recordings; the first official transatlantic telephone conversation; the first recording of ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’; sounds of the ivory-billed woodpecker; F. D. Roosevelt’s 1941 address to Congress; as well as Elvis, Chuck Berry, Sinatra, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, R.E.M. – and now Floyd’s Dark Side.

Of particular note is that Dark Side “received the highest number of public nominations among this year’s picks“.

The 2012 National Recording Registry entries are (in alphabetical order):

  1.  ”A Program of Song,” Leontyne Price (1959)
  2. “After You’ve Gone,” Marion Harris (1918)
  3. “Bacon, Beans and Limousines,” Will Rogers (Oct. 18, 1931)
  4. “Begin the Beguine,” Artie Shaw (1938)
  5. “Cheap Thrills,” Big Brother and the Holding Company (1968)
  6. “Crossing Chilly Jordan,” The Blackwood Brothers (1960)
  7. “Descargas: Cuban Jam Session in Miniature,” Cachao Y Su Ritmo Caliente (1957)
  8. “Einstein on the Beach,” Philip Glass and Robert Wilson (1979)
  9. “Hoodoo Man Blues,” Junior Wells (1965)
  10. “Just Because,” Frank Yankovic & His Yanks (1947)
  11. “Music Time in Africa,” Leo Sarkisian, host (July 29, 1973)
  12. “Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s,” Clarence Ashley, Doc Watson, et al. (1960-1962)
  13. “Ramones,” The Ramones (1976)
  14. “Saturday Night Fever,” The Bee Gees, et al (1977)
  15. “Sounds of Silence,” Simon and Garfunkel (1966)
  16. “South Pacific,” Original Cast Album (1949)
  17. “The Audience with Betty Carter,” Betty Carter (1980)
  18. “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Pink Floyd (1973)
  19. “The Shape of Jazz to Come,” Ornette Coleman (1959)
  20. “The Twist,” Chubby Checker (1960)
  21. “Wild Tchoupitoulas,” The Wild Tchoupitoulas (1976)
  22. “You Are My Sunshine,” Jimmie Davis (1940)
  23. D-Day Radio Broadcast, George Hicks (June 5-6, 1944)
  24. President’s Message Relayed from Atlas Satellite, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Dec. 19, 1958)
  25. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Van Cliburn (April 11, 1958)

At #322 on the Registry’s list is the Apollo 11 broadcast from the moon by astronaut Neil Armstrong, from 21st July 21, 1969. Apollo 17′s lunar landing broadcast by Commander Eugene Cernan was used in a working version of Dark Side in Jan’73, pre-Clare Torry.

The full National Recording Registry is here.

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40 Years Old Today!

40 years ago today… The official US release of Dark Side (plus the real dates!…)

Happy Birthday Dark Side!

On the 10th March 1973 The Dark Side Of The Moon was released in the US, officially.

The Floyd were performing the sixth night (on their eighth US tour), at The Gymnasium, Kent State University, in Ohio. David Gilmour made a bet with band manager Steve O’Rourke that the album wouldn’t crack the US top 10: the album hit number one on the US Billboard charts for one week on the 28th April 1973, 7 weeks later.

US release date: 1o March 1973*; US charting date: 17-Mar-73 at #95 (highest US chart position was #1 some 7 weeks later on 28-Apr-73).

UK release date: 24 March 1973*; UK charting date: 31-Mar-73 at #2 (highest UK chart position was #2 that week on 31-Mar-73).

*The More Likely Release Dates Of Dark Side…

Something didn’t seem to stack up with the official album release dates, so I investigated: given the chart calculation processes in both the US and UK – see date layout below – and when their respective sales weeks start, the official dates seem unlikely.

So here are the more likely release dates – and if anyone has an original receipt of their purchase on the first day of release in the US and UK please let me know!:

US probable release date: 1 March 1973*; release date must have been before the 3rd of March, with the first of the month being a deadline for production and distribution of the album (and anything less seems too ambitious, given the sessions at Abbey Road only ended at the end of January, 4 weeks before).

UK release date:  19 March 1973*; Mondays are, and were, the normal release day to ‘catch as much of the sales week’ as possible, with a release date of the 24th only allowing one day’s sales to have resulted in Dark Side entering the chart at #2.

DS40 US UK Release UK

But what’s in a few days. Many happy returns Dark Side; let’s all sit down today and make sure we listen – in entirety – to one of the best and most successful albums of all time…

TC

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Dark Side Voices & Original Question Cards

40 years ago today… The now infamous voices were added to the final mix of the album, this week, from 22nd January 1973.

Up to December 1972, Dark Side had progressed to a near final state, in clear phases of development: as a pretty tight musical set from a year on the road along with visits to Abbey Road to lay down the bulk of the material. Abbey Road Studio 3 was booked intermittently through January ’73 with the band needing to agree the final mix – but there was something missing, with one of the last additions being the voices and laughter.

Essential Colour

A last minute addition to the album, the voices were recorded during informal interviews, as responses to questions written on cue cards shown to any and all individuals present in Abbey Road at the time, while the band were finishing mix.

Roger Waters had been flying fishing with Adrian Maben earlier that January in ’73, and suggested Adrian visit the band at Abbey Road in order to record extra footage, to extend the Live At Pompeii film. He recorded footage of the band playing in Studio 3 – staged footage, as the instruments and music tracks had been taped by then, though it is possible the scenes of Roger working at the VCS3 are ‘real working shots’ – and talking in the canteen. Adrian wanted to show the creative process, the band’s humour, and interplay between band members, including the banter sparking off each other:

“Are you happy with the filming?” Maben
“What do you mean, happy?” Waters
“Well, do you think it’s interesting?” Maben
“What do you mean, interesting?” Waters
—Roger Waters, being interviewed by Adrian Maben.

The conversation goes on to range from Nick Mason’s preference for “apple pie without the crust” to the ‘nationality of oysters’, in some of the most intimate footage ever of the band. Interestingly some of Adrian’s questions focus on the potential tension and problems of being in a band – given their perceived longevity having been together for 5 years. It was questioning that was to be mirrored in Water’s cue cards days later.

The questioning process, and obviously stilted responses, are likely to have been a trigger for a ‘better way’ to solicit responses. Roger was after ‘spontaneous’ words and phrases to add a natural human touch to the record. The voices were initially planned as bridges or segues between the songs, later becoming a vital touching layer above the music.

“They provided essential colour for the record” Roger Waters (2003)

Anyone and everyone present in Abbey Road that day were asked: band crew, roadies,  studio staff. Wings led by Paul McCartney were using Studio 2 to put finishing touches to Red Rose Speedway (having recorded the tracks in the previous October): Paul and Linda McCartney were both interviewed, but their responses were deemed too polished and were not chosen, though famously their recently joined guitarist Henry McCullough’s (I don’t know I was really drunk at the time” did make it in. Who was asked helps date the questions – we can’t be sure of date but it was likely after the middle Sunday, otherwise Clare Torry would probably have been asked; I’m uncertain if Chris Thomas was.

Roger’s description of the question cards

This is the handwritten explanation by Roger Waters, from the Immersion set, 2011:

“People often ask me about the voices on Dark Side. I was trying to gather audio snippets to mix into segues on Dark Side. Rather than interviewing people I came up with the idea of writing a series of questions on cards. The cards would be in a stack on a conductors stand in front of a mike. We would scour Abbey Road Studios for willing guinea pigs, bring them to the studio, sit them down, roll tape and then ask them to respond to each card in order.

As I recall the first card was something irrelevant and innocuous, like “What’s your favourite colour?” and the last was the more enigmatic “What do you think of The Dark Side Of The Moon?”

I can’t remember the ones in between, except for:
Are you afraid of dying?
When were you last violent?
Were you in the right?
Do you ever think you’re going mad?
If so why?

End of Story.”

The Original questions

There were about 10 to 15 questions on cards, including:

  1. “What’s your favourite colour?” (to ease the interviewee in)
  2. “Why do rock and roll bands split up?”
  3. “When was last time you thumped someone?”
  4. “Why did you do it?”
  5. “Did you think you were in the right?”
  6. “Do you still you you were in the right?”
  7. “Are you frightened of dying?”
  8. “Why are you frightened of dying” (the likely prompt to Puddie Watt’s “I never said I was frightened of dying”)
  9. “Do you ever think about the dark side of the moon?”
  10. “Do you think you’re going mad?”
  11. “If so, why?”
  12. “What do you think of The Dark Side Of The Moon?”

The questions reflected the themes in the music: life, travel, time, death, religion, money violence, and madness – with violence and death tending to produce the ‘best’ responses. The last to be interviewed was Roger “The Hat” Manifold, a roadie with the band. By the end of the sessions the cards themselves had been lost, so Roger Waters asked the questions himself without cards, while David Gilmour recorded from the control room.

The Question Cards 2013 – DS40

The voices were to add a reality that touches the listener, complementing the music and haunting, along with the theme of madness on the final mix. We then wondered what the questions might be 40 years on… in 2013 with “Speak To Me” DS40.

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100 Days To Go!…

There are now only 100 days to go until Dark Side is 40 years old in March 2013. From the release dates of the original vinyl LP:

US release: 10 March 1973, UK release: 24 March 1973

(So 114 days to go in the UK.)

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Happy 30th Birthday CDs! (The full but brief history of CDs)

30 years ago today, on October 1st 1982, the first commercial CD was released alongside the first CD player. The album with the distinction of being the first marked CD digital release was “52nd Street” by Billy Joel (35DP-1), the fourth was Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (35DP-4) – though the first 50 were released simultaneously. The very first 50 CDs were chosen, somewhat arbitrarily, by the Japanese Sony team in charge of production. The first 100 CD titles were released, with special gold faces in 6 categories, including pop, classical, domestic Japanese music, and sound effects.

The prices of the first CDs were 3,500 and 3,800 Yen – £20 then, £30 in today’s money – launched this day accompanied by the first commercial CD player, the Sony CDP-101 with tray loading. The equivalent European machine, the Philips CD-100, was top loading. Both retailed at $1000.

Before 1982

100 years after Edison patented his phonograph in 1877, laser disc technology innovations were underway at both Philips and Sony. On Mar 8th 1979 Philips Industries announced plans for the “Compact Disc”, so named follow their Compact Cassette format, together with the early CD logo. Soon after Sony joined forces with Phillips to share the high investment costs and work together, and set up a project team of less than a dozen engineers. Once they had overcome early trust issues in the joint venture, the team worked for a year to make a set of standards, delivering the “Red Book” – the start of a series of ‘Colour Books’ that agreed standards that could be patented and developed.

The manufacturing process and method of encoding were contributed by Philips, while Sony created the digital error-correction that made reading the data reliable. Put simply the technology involved 3 parts: ‘digital data processing’ into sound, ‘optical reading’ using laser, and ’mechanics’ to turn the disc. Compact discs remain largely unchanged 30 years on, as a polycarbonate disc 1.2mm thick with indentations (“pits”) together with a layer of aluminium to reflect the light. They necessitated their own new store case.

The music on the discs was initially described by the SPAR code (Society of Professional Audio Recording Services): a three-letter code that appears on the early Compact Disc recordings informing the consumer whether analog (A) or digital (D) equipment was used in producing the recording the music. For instance “AAD” represented a first stage recording in analogue, a second mixing stage in analogue, with the digital third stage mastering – all CDs having a final digital mastering by fact of its digital nature. Very early CDs are now considered highly valuable as analogue recordings were ‘laid flat’ onto digital medium with no remastering, with near perfect capturing of original source tapes, without tampering of the original audio recording.

The Compact Disc

The standard 12cm size of a compact disc allows for data capacity, raised during the development from 60 to 74 minutes. Norio Ohga, then Sony President, agreed with conductor Herbert von Karajan, assisting Philips, that the new disc must accommodate Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. They predicted that classical music lovers were more likely to appreciate, and buy, the increased audio quality of the CD system.

Only 12 cm in diameter, but if the data track on a disc were unwound, it would stretch to over 3.5 miles long. A disc can carry 700MB, to put it in computer terms computer users, and is ‘read’ from underneath, from the middle out, with its spin adjusting between a rate of 500 and 200 rpm as it does so – this technology remains the same 30 years on.

The First CDs

In Japan, CBS / Sony Records opened the first commercial compact disc pressing plant in April 1982, in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The production of commercial CDs started in mid-September, after some early teething issues with the blend of polycarbonate. The official launch was in Japan on October 1st, 1982. The very first CDs pressed were by CBS/Sony, as theirs was one of only two pressing plants at the time, so they also made for Toshiba-EMI Records. Originally due to cost and technology, the only CD pressing plants were Sony’s in Japan and Polygram’s in Hanover West Germany (the Polygram record company wholly owned by Philips).

In West Germany the new technology was privately inaugurated with test pressings in 1980, and the first modern CD pressed was Richard Strauss’s “Alpine Symphony” conducted by Herbert von Karajan. The following year, the Bee Gees went on the BBC’s Tomorrows World with the album ‘Living Eyes’ – I remember watching the now classic demonstration of jam being smeared on and wiped off the back of the disc, proving that the new medium was a great advance over vinyl and cassette technologies.

Technically the very first production CD Abba’s The Visitors, pressed on August 17th 1982, but this production run was not on sale until end of the year. Their official consumer launch in the Netherlands and the UK was on the 1st March 1983, when the production of CD players had caught up with increasing number of titles on CD. 1000 titles were released in the first year, the first being a series of orange / ‘Red Face’ CDs the first produced where Abba ‘The Visitors’ (800 011-2) and Abba Greatest Hits Vol 2 (800 012-2).

At the start there was a mixed reception from consumers to CDs as a new medium for music: on one side considered a revolution for majority of listeners, taking away noise, being more portable and more durable. But on the other some audiophiles insisted, and still do to this day, that you can’t beat true analogue reproduction of music. Revolutionary and controversial, durable CDs were designed to replace vinyls – meaning you wouldn’t need to ‘buy again’, but meaning you did have to replace your entire existing record collection – I remember this dilemma well, offset by the new ability to skip to tracks instantly and listen noise free.

US record labels initially were sceptical of the new format, and shunned the joint venture. However given the first year success of CDs, followed suit. But it wasn’t until 1984 a plant opened in the US, with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” was the first CD to be pressed in America.

The CDs First Ten Years 1982-92

1982 was a turning point for the music industry. Michael Jackson’s Thriller sold 40m copies, the best selling album – ever, still to this day – the same year as the arrival of CD, which would go on to overtake vinyl (but not until 1988). Also in 1982 tape cassette sales had just overtaken vinyls. How music was purchased, and listened to, was starting an irreversible change. CDs after a slow start became very popular, with production by Polygram in ’82 rising from the first years’s 376,000 pressings, to 6 million in 1983, then 13m in, and 25m Polygram pressings in 1985.

Behind the production, the second book of CD standards was written in 1983, then known as the “Yellow Book”, covering Read Only Memory (CD-ROM). This became the standard for computer-based compact discs. Followed by the third book (in 1986), known as the “Green Book,” covered CD-Interactive technology, synchronising both audio and data tracks on a CD-ROM, to enable full motion video combined with interactivity.

The Next Ten Years, 1992-02

CDs and DVDs became a reliable and regular medium for distributing large quantities of information. Their power in music sales were proven in 1985 when Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms became the first CD to sell one million CDs. This established CDs as mainstream, with the relative merits of CDs coming into their own – the unedited 55mins of Brothers In Arms outsold the shorter vinyl version.

In their first 10 years to 1992, CD rose in popularity, riding the tide of increasing music sales but at the expense of vinyl’s, which fell away in that ten years, replaced by CDs as the album medium of choice, and also overtook cassette sales. In this ten years, CDs continued their rise to peak in ’02 at 2.5billion that year, then replacing and causing the demise of tape cassettes.

CDs In The Last Ten Years, 2002-12

However this 20 year rise has reversed by 2012, with CDs sales falling by 20% each year, as the whole music industry sales have shrunk to a third of 2002 levels. CDs are easy to burn, copy and share, so their sales have fallen, added to the introduction of MP3s and music downloading – and a switch to single tracks over albums after 2004 – CDs are now a minority medium for music. CDs still account for majority of album sales but volume has shrunk to a low equilibrium level, as they fill a niche need. Outside music the fourth “Orange” book, outlines the coming generation of writable CD technology, primarily CD-Es. (Compact Disc – Erasable). This technology is available today, known in its first form as CD-RW. Future uses are contained in a “White Book,” a plan for the future of compact disc technology, outlining video compact discs, and containing the standard of data compression used to display large amounts of audio and video on a home computer; again an early phase from 1995 were DVDs (Digital Video Discs).

Overall the CD has been very successful. To 2012 over 225 billion CDs have been produced. Stack these up (at 1.2mm each) and this CD tower would circle the earth nearly 7 times. CDs revolutionised the consumer audio industry, after the Dutch-Japanese alliance took a calculated business risk. The Compact Disc made it easier for all of us to listen to music, in higher quality, and ushered in the digital format of audio. Now, as music industry now battles against digital aspect of music as data, CDs remain a tangible, practical and collectable part of music history, and is set to continue and endure but at a lower equilibrium level for music reproduction, outpaced by its day to day use for handling computer data. Its precise artistry in music listening will remain to hardcore audiophiles, and the technical sophistication of data CDs will continue as a workhorse of the computer world.

 

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