Monday, May 31, 2010

Power-Popscurites: Popular Mechanix! - S/T (1979)

Power-Popscurites is a series meant to bring to light power-pop bands so unknown that they've even been missed by greater minds of the blogosphere.

Winnipeg's seventies punk/new wave community was small terms of size and impact. Alongside, The Fuse, Popular Mechanix! were one of the big fish in this frozen pond. The band, Stu Nichols - Vocals/Guitars, Boris Hoagy - Bass/Vocal and Greg Gardner - Drums/Vocals, borrowed from ska, punk, power-pop and the quirkier side of new wave to make music they called "snow wave". The band, who resided somewhere between The Diodes and The Pointed Sticks, musically and geographically, got to make two indie L.P.'s, both of which were, for many years, ubiquitous in Winnipeg .

You have to scrunch up your ears to imagine how much more a sympathetic producer could've done with this tight trio and their developing song-craft on their self-titled debut. The album is loaded with deftly-arranged tracks that wittily rail against Las Vegas toilets, Winnipeg winters, painter pants and Mazola Oil, all the while proving that it's "Fun To Be Dumb".

Popular Mechanix! - Ice Box City

Popular Mechanix! - Fun to be Dumb

(Thanks to Punk History Canada for all the images)

Self-Titled link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, Give us you evaluation of Popular Mechanix!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Power-Popscurites: The Cavedogs: Six Tender Moments (1991)

In between their debut and their swansong, The Cavedogs (more here) released a six-song e.p., the led-off with their greatest song, "Tayter Country" and added a couple of originals plus covers of Bacarach and David's "What's New Pussycat" and the Kinks "I Need You."

Six Tender Moments link is in the comments

The band re-united in 2002 (supposedly at the behest of former class-mate/collaborator David Cross) but there' s not been any great rush of activity since:




Power-Popscurites: The Cavedogs - Soul Martni (1992)

Before withering in the face of grunge, the budding power-pop revival of the very early nineties (Material Issue, Smithereens etc.) left us some fine music. Here's the Cavedogs (more here) 2nd album, Soul Martini, which while a touch heavier is just as sweet as the first.

Soul Martini link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, Tell us your view on The Cavedogs

The band re-united in 2002 (supposedly at the behest of former class-mate/collaborator David Cross) but there' s not been any great rush of activity since:




Friday, May 28, 2010

Power-Popscurites: The Cavedogs: Joy Rides For Shut-Ins (1990)

Power-Popscurites is a series meant to bring to light power-pop bands so unknown that they've even been missed by greater minds of the blogosphere.

Well, early nineties Boston pop-nerds The Cavedogs have had some pixels spilled over them (thanks to Willfully Obscure and Little Hits) but still no one seems to have posted their prime, long out-of-print Enigma albums, like this Ed Stasium produced one from 1990, Joy Rides for Shut-Ins. So while some might say that "if you can recall a time when the search for the next Smithereens was a worthy pursuit of record label executives your musical memory is overcrowded" to which I say, "Sorry, I can't hear you above the noise:"

Joy Rides For Shut-Ins link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, Tell us your view on The Cavedogs

The band re-united in 2002 (supposedly at the behest of former class-mate/collaborator David Cross) but there' s not been any great rush of activity since:




Update: Aaron adds:
"At one point or another each of the Cavedogs (I think) got involved with TV, writing both music and script content. Drummer Mark Rivers wrote the theme songs for Mr. Show and Moral Orel, among others. Todd Spahr has done some scores and more recently collaborated with Ilyana Douglas to create the Swedish pop band Sparhusen (iTunes link) as a tie-in with the web series Easy To Assemble. He also writes and performs with the bands Banquet Hall and Matt Bunsen & the Burners. He's a great songwriter and he just keeps going, so check it out!"

Update II Larkin Mayberry IV adds:
Todd Spahr also fronted a great Boston band in the late 90's to early 00's called The Gravy. I caught them many times and they quickly became my favorite local band.I believe they only had 3 releases. Hangman's Pop, an EP (known as the Hollywood EP), and Lollipolyp. All well worth the price of admission.
The physical copies are probably hard to find, I believe Lollypolyp wasn't even released in the US (just a small batch sold at shows). But here's a link to The Gravy on itunes:

Update III majornista adds:

Gravy video I

Gravy Video II

And don't miss this vintage news piece:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Power-Popscurities: The Frantics (2000)

There was a slew of good power-pop bands from the aughts. There was, however, no excess of great ones. The Frantics exemplify the good category but they did write at least one song that flirted with greatness like a brazen hussy. Despite The Beatles-esque title, the band clearly love their Cheap Trick more than anything and some of the members (their line-up is murky) were connected to some eighties hair-metal bands, so you can expect some attempted Big Rock tricks to liven up (or drag down) a tight batch of songs. While Meet The Frantics came out on some Christian rock label, you'd never know unless you noted the ghostliness of their occasional Weezer-isms ("What's Up With Your Homey" is NOT an acceptable song title.) While, "Little Bit Good" is a fine power-pop ballad and "All the Same" is as well, the reason you need to know about this is the T.S. Elliot-referencing album opener, "Not With a Bang" which, despite its denial, does indeed kick off the album an "earth-shattering ka-boom".

(The Frantics - Not With a Bang)

Meet the Frantics link is is the comments.

Speaking of comments, is "Not With a Bang" a great undiscovered song or not?

This CD is available for one cent on Amazon (not the first or last thing posted here of which that could be said) and the members went on to form a band called London Calling (whose first album is called "New Sensation" which brings to mind a curious amalgam of The Clash and INXS.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Power-Popscurites: My Brother Jane (1997)

Power-Popscurites is a series meant to bring to light power-pop bands so unknown that they've even been missed by greater minds of the blogosphere.

My Brother Jane were a full-tilt power-pop punk band whose 1997 album, Supersize, lands somewhere between early Elvis Costello and mid-period Green Day.

MBJ (Ohms - Drums/Lead Vocals, Darbs - Guitar/Vocals, and Al Stretch - Bass/Vocals), if memory serves, formed from the ashes of The Johns (actually The Bards unfaithful memory), who were Winnipeg's critical darlings in the late eighties where each city was allowed to have only one band in the race to be the acceptable face of 'alternative rock'.

On their lone album, the band delivered ill-tempered but infectious pop songs, like "Suzanne Away", "Supersize" and "Beautiful Empty" (but unfortunately not their whiplash version of David Bowie's "Modern Love") which stick in your brain not in your craw.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Power-Popscurities: The Shakers (1979)

Power-Popscurites is a series meant to bring to unearth power-pop bands so unknown that they've even been missed (or possibly ignored) by the greater minds of the blogosphere.

The Shakers were Teenage Head-related late seventies/early-eighties Toronto power-pop-a-billy produced by future legend Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Emylou Harris etc).

The Shakers (Future Teenage Head member Dave Rave - Guitars/Vocals, Tim Gibbons - Guitar/Vocals, Claude DesRoches - Drums and Rick Andrews - Bass/Vocals) probably seemed unstuck in time even back in '79. Clearly enamored of a lot of the same sort of things, Chuck Berry, real early Beatles, cars with enormous fins etc. that inspired the later seventies Flamin' Groovies (they cover "Shake Some Action Here"). This collection is hopelessly out-of-print and since this here internet has almost no info about the band, you'll just have enjoy, "Out the Door" and then let us know what you think. (New player requires a teensy bit of patience but it works.)

Music Playlist at

The Shakers Self-Titled link is on the comments.

Speaking of comments, give us your quick review of the Shakers.

Check out this interview with Dave Rave!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Police: Bring on the Night (Paris, 1980)

1980 was still early enough for the band to play "Fallout" and late enough for them to play "When the World is Running Down...", which is a pretty sweet spot.

This one if for the fine folks over at the Follow the Leaders and their great Police fan-site.

Bring on the Night link is in the comments

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Police: Live in Berkley (1979)

I unashamedly own all of The Police's albums but remain convinced that their first three years, 1978-1980, represent their finest attempt to take jazzy-prog rock and reggae-punk and make it into pure pop. It likely irritated fans of the genres that they pillaged but it is a mix unattempted before or since.

So here to show off a band on their way to the summit, is crisp bootleg of an FM broadcast from Berkley in 1979. Enjoy!

Live in Berkley link is in the comments

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Police: Mont de Marsan Punk Festival 1977

If The Clash sued The Police for theft, this eleven-track bootleg of an appearance at The Mont de Marsan Punk Festival in May 1977, at which they both played, would be exhibit one for the prosecution. While The Clash were playing their epochal punk-reggae fusion, "White Man In Hammersmith Palais" The Police were still bashing out faux-punk like the incongruously-titled "Clouds in Venice".

(Note The bootleg's sound is much clearer than this 'footage'.)

So, while the early evidence might suggest a case of Police and Thieves, by 1978 The Police had surely laundered their share of any take and invested it in something altogether new.

Here's a little bit from The Police side and here's a some material from The Clash camp in regards to the Punk Festival in Mont de Marsan.

Mont de Marsan Punk Festival 1977 link is in the comments

Speaking of comments: Were The Police thieves?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Police: Lost BBC Studio Tapes 1978-1979

"Fuck The Police!"

It's annoying to still hear this sort of anti-Police talk coming straight from the underground. Being anti-Sting is one thing but hating his band is just wrong. I don't care if the Clash kicked Topper Headon off the bus for playing The Police (a.k.a. 'the enemy'). I don't care if Sting turned into a blow-dried weenie or that the band were all closet prog rockers. The near-indisputable fact is that for a time in the late seventies and early eighties The Police were the best pop band on the planet. These early songs are so frighteningly compact that every note seems utterly crucial and yet people are blinded by prejudice into charging them with 'fakery' - as if rock n' roll isn't built on lies.

This bootleg of all the band's early BBC session is an astounding document that proved virtuosity didn't have to be wankery (not at first, anyway). Here Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland prove their love of reggae, AM pop and, yes, prog rock (beware: improv within) and temper all that with a grasp of what punk was trying to do (without much interest in its ideological tenets). And since no post here should end with the words ideological tenets let me just say: The Police fuckin' rule.

Lost BBC Studio Tapes 1978-1979 link is in the comments.

Speaking of comments: Speak up and leave us your views, Police fans and Police bashers!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goo Goo Dolls: Extended

(This one is for Angry over at Days of Our Youth.)

Now Buffalo's The Goo Goo Dolls career made no sense. Two ignored mid-eighties metallic pop-punk albums, two more Repalcements-esqe college-rock albums which garnered a little more praise (but mostly for the first one, Hold Me Up) and then in 1995 the band, almost overnight, took over the pop charts (and the glossy magazines) with songs that were smart, catchy and impeccably produced by Bob Mould's main man Lou Giordano. It was like The Goo Goo Dolls had decided to learn from Mould's Sugar and Grave Dancer's Union era Soul Asylum instead of Westerberg's oeuvre. While still in thrall to the greater sounds of Minneapolis, The Goo Goo Dolls hit on a formula that could be gussied-up more every subsequent album until they became pretty hard to take but on most of A Boy Named Goo even their fuck-ups sound like gold.

This bootleg of B-sides, soundtracks etc, which includes covers of The Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You", The Rolling Stones' "Bitch" and The Damned's "Hit of Miss (nice choices, boys) is only for the converted but maybe I'll convince someone to go back and re-hear the awfully-titled A Boy Named Goo with the absence of prejudice, as I managed to do when I picked up a blank-covered pre-release cassette from my work the month before the album hit big and quickly discovered that it just all made sense.

Extended link is in the comments.

Speaking of comment: Whether you feel love, hate or indifference toward the Goo Goo Dolls tell us why.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Ruts/Penetration: BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert

As a live band The Ruts were utterly unrelenting, no matter what the tempo.

(Okay that was lip-synched but not everyone was going around recording shows on their phone back in nineteen and seventy-seven - in fact even French TV cameras didn't look or sound too good back then.)

The other half of this out-of-print CD features Pauline Murray's later-period Penetration, and includes my second favourite song of theirs, their pop-ified cover of the Buzzcocks "Nostalgia" .

This cover as well as "Don't Dicatate (and a few others spread over their two albums) seem to be Penetration's finest work. Perhaps it's the metal guitars (Fred Purses would later join Tygers of Pan Tang) or the lack of material strong enough to showcase Murray's powerful voice that make this band seem like a quickie.

BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert link is in the comments

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Monday, May 17, 2010

The Ruts: The Peel Sessions

The Ruts were not "Clash copyists" as Chris Salewicz claims in Redemption Song, nor did they have "...Every thing The Clash had been striving for in their ersatz reggae excursions" as Clinton Heylin claims in Babylon's Burning. The Ruts need not be a facile point of comparison for Clash-freaks and Clash-bashers to buttress their argument, for they were the instigators of a funky-reggae-punk-metal riot of their own. It's not to say that The Clash's regatta de blanc didn't inspire The Ruts (as well as Stiff Little Fingers, The Specials and {yes} The Police) but, as with any band, you judge their success not based on what they began with but on what they finished with.

Malcolm Owen and Paul Fox were living on a Welsh hippie commune when punk rock came calling. Moving to London, leaving behind a funk band named Hit and Run, the band found unusual patrons like Phil Lynot of Thin Lizzy (who gave them a song) and Brit-reggae band Misty (who financed their first single) and BBC DJ John Peel (who played that single every night for weeks). Less then two years later it wold all be over when Malcolm Owen made the the classic junkie slip of celebrating his detox with 'one last fix' and died on July 14th 1980.

Thankfully, the band's sole album, The Crack, and it's odds n' sods follow-up Grin and Bear It, (each with a few bonus tracks) remain in print. Unfortunately without the kind of deluxe re-issue which would include all their studio material, these incendiary songs the band recorded for John Peel (why, oh why does this version of the proto-hardcore "Society" never make it onto one of their primary re-issues?) remain hard-to-get. So relish this out-of-print collection, which sounds more singular now than ever, and be sure you've done your part to support the surviving Ruts.

Peel Sessions CD link is in the comments.

Speaking of comments, is there really a significant Ruts-Clash rivalry?

Support the band!

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And for some live Ruts, run over to the ever-awesome King Rocker Rocks On.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Bob Dylan's "The Man in Me" Twenty Seven Ways (Listen-only)

Some claim that directors Joel and Ethan Coen, in the their once-dismissed-but-now-revered 1998 film, The Big Lebowski, rescued Bob Dylan's "The Man in Me” from abject obscurity. It’s untrue, though that’s no knock on the Coen’s unforgettable use of it in the movie’s title sequence. “The Man in Me” has in fact been dug up many times by those types of artist who comb through every Dylan album for their shot at Rock Greatness (Hendrix Division). Throughout the seventies, artists of all styles took a crack at the song and even eighties pop confection Nick Kamen gave it a whirl. What the Coen’s (and their musical archivist, T-Bone Burnett*) did, was to pluck Dylan’s own version from the under-appreciated 1970 album, New Morning and add some tricky but sensual camera work plus a whole lot of bowling!

The song itself is a product of Dylan’s hazy-lazy domestic period (1967 to 1973, approximately) and while it’s somewhat simplistic lyrics (“Takes a woman of your kind/to get through to the man in me”) are drenched with buckets full of sentiment and la-la’s, somehow the song doesn’t feel as schmaltzy as some of the other Guy Smiley material from this period. In fact, the song has turned out to wildly malleable, as musicians from all over the map have been proving since it was released almost forty years ago.

So once again, in the interest of rampant obsessiveness, MRML would like to present twenty-seven versions of "The Man in Me". As any such collection must be it's a frighteningly mixed bag, ranging from inspired to insipid. While I haven't included every version ever recorded, I've tried to include those of most interest. That said, insightful suggestions and thoughful corrections are still welcome.


2013 Update the player links below are broken, so here's a playlist with (almost) all the songs on it!

1. Indiana's Lonnie Mack was an early guitar hero with a deep knowledge of rockabilly, soul, country and blues who recorded a version the song that touched on much of his musical heritage for his 1971 The Hills of Indiana album.

2. France's Serge Kerval translated the song into the French language and into the French tradition of singing like world-weary lounge singer in 1971 for his album Serge Kerval Chante Dylan.

3. Soaring, stirring A cappella-soul from New York group The Persuasions' 1972 album Street Corner Symphony.

4. The song became a lush falsetto extravaganza in the hands of Al Kooper (who played on the original version) on his A Possible Projection Of The Future/Childhood's End album of 1972.

5. Australia's Duck give us a horn-driven rock-funk take on the song (which sort of foreshadows Dylan's 1978 revamp of the song) from their 1972 album Laid.

6. Americans McKendree Spring folk-country-rock version of the song, which, while not unpleasant, does crank up the mellow to yawn-inducing levels.

7. On his 1976 album British shouter Joe Cocker did tried to up the drama on the song but to no great effect.

8. Brit-reggae men Matumbi brought the song into yet another lexicon and had a substantial hit when they released it as a single on Trojan Records in 1976.

9. Austrian Wolfgang Ambros' 1978 version of the song, "Da Mensch In Mir", could really use some sturm and drang.

10. Dylan's drastic re-casting of the song on the 1978 tour that would result in the much-lambasted Live at Budakon album was accompanied by a more poisonous, adulterous re-write of the lyrics.

11. The Clash's ultra-boxy-sounding rehearsal version of the song (from a set of demos called The Vanilla Tapes later appended to London Calling) is more likely a result Paul Simonon putting the brilliant Matumbi version of the song on the jukebox at the Vanilla rehearsal studio then Mick Jones getting every Dylan album from CBS after the Clash had signed to that label.

12. As possibly the sole eighties entry on our list, we have British male-model/singer/song-writer/Madonna-protege Nick Kamen's 1987 version which is a melodramatic synth-pop ballad with a nice ska subtext.

13. Toni Vescoli's 1993 version of the song, "De Maa I Mir", from an 1993 album of Dylan covers, is in Swiss....

14. Chris Robinson and Marc Ford, who did this loping live version in 2001 are from American retro-rockers The Black Crowes whom I am told are more enjoyable if, big if, you love the Rod Stewart's Faces.

15. Jamaican Freddie McGregor had covered the many styles of that island's music but seems to have been most successful with the smooth style known as lover's rock of which this 2002 version of the song could be called a late example of.

16. The regional compilation is Duluth Does Dylan, the year is 2006, the band is No Wait Wait, the sound is an organ-powered roots-pop.

17. Kentucky band My Morning Jacket, whose singer, Jim James appeared in "I'm Not There" singing "Going to Acapulco" in white-face make-up were an aughts indie fave and their take on the song is that sorta folky-and-mellow-but-deeply-emotional thing that was big in their heyday.

18. Boston's Buffalo Tom have always shown great taste in covers and aren't afraid to give this song a right good kick in the ass.

19. Californian David Lowery was in eighties indie kingpins Camper Van Beethoven but his other band Cracker have a bit on of undeserved one-hit-wonder reputation, which this jammy version of the song won't, in and of itself, dispel.

20. Californian emo-punk band Jenoah recorded an indie-folkish version of the song for Drive-Through Records Listen to Bob Dylan compilation from 2006.

21. Ireland's The Frames (supposedly much loved by Dylan himself) make a nice go of the song but don't bring much new to the table.

22. L.A. band Say Anything do the classic high-fructose pop-punk-emo take on the song (circa 2006) which while not particularly innovative does break up this somewhat mellow set effectively.

23. The much-hyped indie-pop band Dr. Dog from Philadelphia performed this song at Lebowskifest in 2007 but based on their newer work one suspects in a studio it would sound a little more distinctive.

24. Former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbel is from Memphis and he brings out some of the Muscle Shoals soul in the song for this 2008 live performance.

25. Chicagoan Dan Andriano (from punk band Alkaline Trio) does the classic one-guy-one-acoustic take on the song, which will make some of you hope that a more ferocious version of the song might makes it into his band's repertoire.

26. Man, indie-folk bands like this D.C. outfit love this song to death, though in this 2009 version Vandeveer do add some surprises like different lyrics and some arrangement quirks.

27. So in 2009, after "disbanding" Pedro the Lion and "breaking up with God" David Bazan recorded a single with covers of this song and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", which seems to cover two pieces of very well-worn ground though his take on each of the songs evinces a charming earnestness.

Speaking of comments, give us your take on the many uses and mis-uses of "The Man in Me".

* Historical note: "Burnett...had a tough time securing the rights to Townes Van Zandt's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers", which plays over the film's closing credits. Former Stones manager Allen Klein owned the rights to the song and wanted $150,000 for it. Burnett convinced Klein to watch an early cut of the film and remembers, "It got to the part where the Dude says, 'I hate the fuckin' Eagles, man!' Klein stands up and says, 'That's it, you can have the song!' That was beautiful". (source Wikipedia)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

V.A. Live at Raul's (1979)

Raul's was the riot-torn club whose five year existence whelped Austin punk rock. This compilation, Live at Raul's, was recorded in 1979 before a paltry matinee audience, showcases the club's earlier more new wave side (see Standing Waves or The Next) more so than it's later hardcore side (see the legendary Dick's/Big Boy's Live at Raul's LP.)

Live at Raul's greatest contribution to humanity is that it acts as a witness to the resurrection of sixties psychedelic casualty Roky Erickson. These two tracks show Roky teaching the kids about raw n' bloody rock n' roll but without the ignorance of history punkers often feigned

Live at Raul's link is in the comments.

Speaking of comments, give us your take on the Roky Erickson legend.

"Recorded in 1979, at the Austin club Raul's, this album has long been unavailable, but post-punk punkers can take heart thanks to the ongoing DejaDisc reissue program. It's all here; bashing guitars, inane posturing, post-World War pre-apocalyptic lyrics, and the gratuitous use of German to indicate an implied hip brave-new-world blank-generation-cool-without-responsibility in the face of an increasingly chaotic world. If you like music with no purpose, this album is for you. Just don't pretend that it's good."

Richard Meyer in the liner notes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lone Justice: Go 'Way Little Boy (Live in '85)

"I was a big Lone Justice fan...(Maria McKee) was so young and so good. But she got told that way too much."
Jason Ringerberg, Babylon's Burning
Getting labeled promising in the mid-eighties via endorsements by such figures as Bob Dylan, Jimmy Iovine, U2, David Geffen, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and Linda Ronstadt ended up destroying L.A.'s Lone Justice's shot at cow-punk glory. Instead, after an almost-great album, Maria McKee ended up alone with Mimi Steve Van Zandt making a soulless, mercenary grab for eighties pop radio gold before finally striking out under her own name.

As proof of their anointing, their debut album from 1985 featured not only an unreleased Tom Petty song ("Ways to be Wicked) but also, as a B-side, a Dylan out-take from from his 1984 album Empire Burlesque called "Go 'Way Little Boy". Dylan himself plays on the song, which, not unlike his own version, never rises much past the pleasant mark.

16 is Bob Dylan's solo version "Go 'Way Little Boy"
11 i
s Lone Justice (w/ Bob Dylan) doing "Go 'Way Little Boy"

"We were fairly radical. We had all these punk rock influences. My style of music [which] had always been very raw and sublimated by people who thought it would impede commercial progress. The minute the record business was involved, I was fodder to these satin-jacketed men."
Maria McKee, Babylon's Burning
Lone Justice's lived and died by Maria McKee's voice. It was a bold and powerful instrument but it was frequently showcased to such a degree that it overshadowed the songs, the band and anything else that got in the way. Their earlier work, from which era this FM broadcast originates, still sounds like a real band, and a damn fine one too.

Live at The Paradise Theater link is in the comments

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