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MEGADETH – Endgame

Megadeth – Endgame (2009, Roadrunner Records)

1. “Dialectic Chaos” … 2:26
2. “This Day We Fight!” … 3:27
3. “44 Minutes” … 4:37
4. “1,320” … 3:50
5. “Bite The Hand” … 4:01
6. “Bodies” … 3:34
7. “Endgame” … 5:57
8. “The Hardest Part of Letting Go… Sealed With a Kiss” … 4:42
9. “Head Crusher” … 3:26
10. “How The Story Ends” … 4:29
11. “The Right To Go Insane” .. 4:18

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano
Chris Broderick – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
James Lomenzo – Bass
Shawn Drover – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Andy Sneap and Dave Mustaine

Another Megadeth album, another line-up change! It’s pretty comical — “who’s going to play on this album,” but at least Dave always brings in top notch musicians. This time, its another new guitarist — Chris Broderick (Jag Panzer, Nevermore) has stepped in for the departing Glen Drover, who apparently was homesick and just wasn’t enjoying touring all that much.

My first impression of this album was that there’s really nothing that jumps out and grabs you. I thought there was some filler on United Abominations, but at least that album had the instant standouts “Play for Blood” and “Gears of War” (which had a “Symphony of Destruction” vibe).

To be honest, the very first song that eventually caught my attention was the opening track “Dialectic Chaos”… which is an instrumental! After that, “44 Minutes” began getting stuck in my head and I knew I had found my groove with this album.It’s a grower, for sure, but the more I listen to it, the more I’m enjoying it. I think it’s even better than United Abominations because melody seems to be employed better here, UA was a bit too thrashy for me at times.

I’ve seen many reviews going as far as to say this album is “great”. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is very good and one of the year’s best releases. I mean, how can you complain about Megadeth (well, besides the lame cover)? Mustaine has seemed to have found his proper place with the music — the last few records seem to emcompass all albums from Rust In Peace to Cryptic Writings. As long as Dave keeps makin’ ’em, I’ll keep buyin’ ’em.

Highlights: “Dialectic Chaos”, “44 Minutes”, “Bodies”, “Endgame”, “The Hardest Part of Letting Go… Sealed With a Kiss”, “Head Crusher”, “How The Story Ends”

www.megadeth.com
www.myspace.com/megadeth

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TESLA – Mechanical Resonance

Tesla – Mechanical Resonance (1986, Geffen Records)

1. “EZ Come EZ Go” … 3:33
2. “Cumin’ Atcha Live” … 4:27
3. “Gettin’ Better” … 3:22
4. “Too Late For Love” … 3:50
5. “Rock Me To The Top” … 3:40
6. “We’re No Good Together” … 5:18
7. “Modern Day Cowboy” … 5:18
8. “Changes” … 5:02
9. “Little Suzi” … 4:58
10. “Love Me” … 4:16
11. “Cover Queen” … 4:32
12. “Before My Eyes” … 5:31

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Tommy Skeoch – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Wheat – Bass, Backing Vocals
Troy Luccketta – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Steve Thompson

Tesla always delivers at least a respect effort on their albums, but this album (their debut) is easily one of their best. I think one reason I like it so much is because it is very much influenced by the pop metal scene. Tesla would later go on to sound like a 1970s band rather than a 1980s on future releases, but I’m sure it is this album that unfairly has them lumped in the “hair metal” category they are generally regarded t o be a part of. Even the titles hear are downright hair metal: “EZ Come EZ Go”, “Cumin’ Atcha Live” and “2 Late 4 Love” sound like song titles any glam metal band we be proud to call their own.

Besides the hair metal connection, another noticeable difference is that Jeff Keith’s voice sounds less gritty here. I’m assuming age and just the fact that he wasn’t out there every night screaming at the top of his lungs while on tour has something to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong there, this isn’t a total slick glamfest — shades of what was to come (the “real” Tesla, if you will) is definitely here, I think they just used a more polished and popular sound to get their foot in the door. Regardless of their intentions, they still delivered one heck of a debut.

Highlights: “EZ Come EZ Go”, “Cumin’ Atcha Live”, “Gettin’ Better”, “Modern Day Cowboy”, “Changes”, “Before My Eyes”

www.teslatheband.com
www.myspace.com/teslatheband

SCORPIONS – Taken By Force

Scorpions – Taken By Force [Remastered] (2002, Hip-O Records)
Originally Release: 1977, RCA Records

1. “Steamrock Fever” … 3:38
2. “We’ll Burn the Sky” … 6:27
3. “I’ve Got to Be Free” … 4:01
4. “The Riot of Your Time” … 4:10
5. “The Sails of Charon” … 4:23
6. “Your Light” … 4:31
7. “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man” … 3:15
8. “Born to Touch Your Feelings” … 7:41
BONUS TRACKS
9. “Suspender Love” … 3:21
10. “Polar Nights (live)” … 6:57

Band:
Klaus Meine – Lead Vocals
Ulrich Roth – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Rudolf Schenker – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Francis Buchholz – Bass, Backing Vocals
Herman Rarebell – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Dieter Dierks

I’ve always been hesitant to try some of the earlier Scorpions albums because I’ve always been told they are somewhat psychedelic, and that’s just no my style. I finally took the chance on this album though because I’ve heard it’s a sign of things to come and is a blue print for the signature sound they would develop fully on albums like Lovedrive, Blackout and Love at First Sting.

Well, it’s true, you can definitely hear where the band was heading in the next decade. In fact, I don’t think any of these songs would sound that much out of place on any of the aforementioned albums. There’s a touch of weird to the album like on “Steamrock Fever” with the kids chanting in the background and on “Born to Touch Your Feelings” with the girls talking near the end, but then again, despite the fact that this band is easily in my Top 10 of all-time, there’s always been something weird about them.

Nonetheless, I have to say this is an essential Scorpions album and like many of their releases, the songs will quickly stick in your head with “The Sails of Charon” easily ranking up there as one of the band’s greatest songs.

The bonus tracks are pretty good. “Suspender Love” I’m assuming was a B-side/unreleased song from the Taken By Force sessions and the live version of “Polar Nights” is from the live album Tokyo Tapes (the studio version can be found on 1976’s Virgin Killer).

Highlights: “We’ll Burn the Sky”, “I’ve Got to Be Free”, “The Sails of Charon”, “Your Light”, “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man”, “Born to Touch Your Feelings”

www.the-scorpions.com
www.myspace.com/officialscorpions

ARMORED SAINT – Raising Fear

Armored Saint – Raising Fear (1995, Metal Blade Records)
Original Release: 1987, Chrysalis Records

1. “Raising Fear” (3:50)
2. “Saturday Night Special” (4:23)
3. “Out on a Limb” (3:33)
4. “Isolation” (6:00)
5. “Chemical Euphoria” (4:45)
6. “Crisis of Life” (4:05)
7. “Frozen Will/Legacy” (6:00)
8. “Human Vulture” (5:26)
9. “Book of Blood” (4:41)
10. “Terror” (4:44)
11. “Underdogs” (4:18)

Band:
John Bush – Vocals
Dave Prichard – Guitars
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

Produced by: Chris Minto and Armored Saint

What a great album cover!

This was my first Armored Saint album and it was by accident because if I’m remembering correctly, I actually meant to pick up Symbol of Salvation. I had mixed up the titles, but my intent was the same– to pick up what was generally considered to be the “best” Armored Saint album.

I was disappointed when I got online at home and realized I had bought an album that All Music Guide only gave 2.5 stars to. You can only trust your own ears, but for a time, in the early 2000s, I trusted AMG more than I should have and I think their review influenced my opinion a lot on this album because I remember not liking this one for the longest time and giving it very little play outside of the few week or two of buying it.

It’s amazing how much you can enjoy something when you stop listening to others and go into things with an open mind (yes, this works for all walks of life) because this is some great American power metal! I still think Symbol of Salvation is their best release, but this album sits right at home next to it.

Supposedly there were some issues in the songwriting department for this album because Chrysalis wasn’t happy with what they were hearing (they wanted that all important “hit”) and they basically forced the band to record “Saturday Night Special” in addition to pretty much re-writing everything. Well, whatever writing/recording problems the band was going through, I still think they delivered in the end and I even like their cover of “Saturday Night Special”. Unfortunately, even after six-months of recording going into this album, the album was not a commercial success and Chrysalis dropped the band, but that’s okay.

Even in the face of Dave Prichard fighting a losing battle with leukemia, the band signed with Metal Blade Records and delivered their career best in 1991…

Highlights: “Raising Fear”, “Saturday Night Special”, “Out on a Limb”, “Frozen Will/Legacy”, “Book of Blood”, “Terror”

www.armoredsaint.com
www.myspace.com/armoredsaint1

MEGADETH – The World Needs a Hero

Megadeth – The World Needs a Hero (2001, Sanctuary Records)

1. “Disconnect” … 5:20
2. “The World Needs a Hero” … 3:52
3. “Moto Psycho” … 3:06
4. “1000 Times Goodbye” … 6:25
5. “Burning Bridges” … 5:20
6. “Promises” … 4:28
7. “Recipe for Hate…. Warhorse” … 5:18
8. “Losing My Senses” … 4:40
9. “Dread and the Fugitive Mind” … 4:25
10. “Silent Scorn” … 1:42
11. “Return to Hangar” … 3:59
12. “When” … 9:14

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Al Pitrelli – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Ellefson – Bass
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums

Produced by: Bill Kennedy & Dave Mustaine

I became a Megadeth fan with the Capitol Punishment compilation from 2000, so I was really excited to hear about The World Needs a Hero, because it would be the first new release having been a fan. For whatever reason, I picked the album up at Target and I didn’t realize it until I bought and opened the packaging that I had bought the censored cover version! It’s an absolutely awful censor job, just looks like someone took an ugly brown paintbrush and slapped it across the cover. Why not just make up a whole new and “safe” cover as so many other bands and labels have done?

Censored!? BOO!

Anyway, this album marked Dave’s move BACK to his metal roots after Countdown to Extinction started the shift towards a more mainstream (and later, alternative) sound. It’s a good release that seems to encompass basically all of Megadeth’s ’90s albums except for Rust In Peace… the one album everybody was hoping Dave would be able to replicate. I liked the album, but at the same time, I was a bit disappointed by it. I think that’s the general consensus is regards to this release.

“Dread and the Fugitive Mind” originally appeared on Capitol Punishment. That compilation also featured another new song, “Kill the King”, which was really good. Too bad it didn’t appear here as well. I think I remember something about it pretty much being a casualty in Capitol Records’ bitter split with the band.

Al Pitrelli (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) took over lead guitar duties from Marty Friedman, who left after 10 years of service in Megadeth. Marty wanted to branch out beyond heavy metal.

Though Dave had pointed Megadeth in the right direction with this album, it was originally thought to go down as the “last” studio album from the band after Dave disbanded the group in 2002 thanks to his arm injury (the disbandment lasted all of 2 years).

Highlights: “Disconnect”, “Moto Psycho”, “1000 Times Goodbye”, “Promises”, “Dread and the Fugitive Mind”, “Return to Hangar”

www.megadeth.com
www.myspace.com/megadeth

JUDAS PRIEST – Point of Entry

Judas Priest – Point of Entry [Remastered] (2001, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)
Original Release: 1981, Columbia Records

1. “Heading Out to the Highway” … 3:47
2. “Don’t Go” … 3:18
3. “Hot Rockin'” … 3:17
4. “Turning Circles” … 3:41
5. “Desert Plains” … 4:36
6. “Solar Angels” … 4:03
7. “You Say Yes” … 3:29
8. “All the Way” … 3:42
9. “Troubleshooter” … 4:00
10. “On the Run” … 3:47
BONUS TRACKS
11. “Thunder Road”… 5:12
12. “Desert Plains” (live) … 5:08

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Dave Holland – Drums

Produced by: Tom Allom

The least of Priest. Point of Entry is a pretty boring effort from the guys that’s stuck between two of their more revered efforts, 1980’s British Steel and 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance. The best the band comes to making a Priest classic is “Hot Rockin'”, which has a big, dumb catchy commercial sound like something you might hear on Turbo or Ram It Down. The album isn’t awful, but definitely isn’t a great moment in the band’s history.

The 2001 remastered edition features a live version of “Desert Plains” and “Thunder Road” (which I quite like), a song recorded during the Ram It Down sessions that sounds totally out of place with this album. This is what makes these Priest remasters kind of weird. It’s very cool that they added unreleased and live tracks to them, but why wouldn’t “Thunder Road” belong on the actual Ram It Down remaster? It’s like the bonus tracks were tacked on at random.

Highlights: “Head Out to the Highway”, “Hot Rockin'”, “Desert Plains”, “Thunder Road”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

ALICE COOPER – The Last Temptation

Alice Cooper – The Last Temptation (1994, Epic Records)

1. “Sideshow” … 6:40
2. “Nothing’s Free” … 5:01
3. “Lost in America” … 3:54
4. “Bad Place Alone” … 5:05
5. “You’re My Temptation” … 5:10
6. “Prayer” … 5:37
7. “Unholy War” … 4:11
8. “Lullaby” … 4:28
9. “It’s Me” … 4:40
10. “Cleansed by Fire” … 6:13

Band:
Alice Cooper – Lead Vocals
Stef Burns – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Greg Smith – Bass, Backing Vocals
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards, Vocals
David Uosikkinen – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Chris Cornell – Lead Vocals (“Stolen Prayer” and “Unholy War”)
Dan Wexler – Guitar (“Lost In America”)
John Purdell – Keyboards (“You’re My Temptation”, “Lullaby”, “It’s Me”)
Lou Merlino, Mark Hudson, Craig Copeland, Brett Hudson – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Andy Wallace, Don Flemmin, Duane Baron, John Purdell

One of my favorite Alice albums and it was also the second Alice album I ever bought. I FINALLY now own this on CD, after originally having it on cassette. I always wanted to upgrade to a CD, but because I was already so familiar with the album, it took me years to finally do it. The $6 price tag I found online recently convinced me to go for it.

This is a concept album and it’s a departure from his two previous efforts, Trash and Hey Stoopid. Those albums were full-strength pop-metal releases and while some of that sound is still here, it’s a much more serious affair and Alice has incorporated the sounds of his mid to late ’70s output. The more serious theme of this album is reflected in the absence of pop-metal songwriter Desmond Child and there are no cameos by pop-metal stars like Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler, Slash or Nikki Sixx. Instead, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell shows up for some vocals (I have read that Extreme’s Gary Cherone was also going to sing on the album, but scheduling problems arose).

This is a dark album that deals with Steven (from Welcome to My Nightmare) battling his temptations to join the traveling carnival of The Showmaster (aka – the Devil), where he would have to sell his soul. There’s some debate as to how this ties in Welcome to My Nightmare. Is it a prequel? Or is it a “reboot” of the Steven character? Who knows? Its even more confusing when you consider 2008’s Along Came a Spider, was another concept album, and it dealt with a serial killer called The Spider who is credited in that album with the name of Steven. On an interesting note, the original title for this album was going to be Along Came a Spider. There’s obviously a connection between all three, but I guess only Alice knows where the pieces fall. It’d be pretty cool if he adapted these albums into a Steven novel someday.

Speaking of stories, to coincide with this album’s release, there was a three-issue miniseries released by Marvel Comics written by Neil Gaiman that fleshed out this album’s story (Cooper AND Gaiman came up with the album’s concept).

Just a fantastic release that I never get tired of listening to, there is no filler at all. “Sideshow” definitely sounds like classic Cooper. I remember when my dad heard it for the first time (a Killers/School’s Out Cooper fan), he made that comment. “It’s Me” is one of my favorite Alice ballads.

Highlights: “Sideshow”, “Nothing’s Free”, “Lost in America”, “You’re My Temptation”, “Unholy War”, “It’s Me”, “Cleansed By Fire”

GREAT WHITE – Hooked

Great White – Hooked (1991, Capitol Records)

1. “Call It Rock N’ Roll” … 3:57
2. “Original Queen of Sheba” … 4:39
3. “Cold Hearted Lovin'” … 4:20
4. “Can’t Shake It” … 4:45
5. “Lovin’ Kind” … 4:46
6. “Heartbreaker” … 6:45
7. “Congo Square” … 6:58
8. “South Bay Cities” … 5:26
9. “Desert Moon” … 4:32
10. “Afterglow” … 5:50

Band:
Jack Russell – Vocals
Mark Kendall – Guitar
Michael Lardie – Guitar, Keyboards
Tony Montana – Bass
Audie Desbrow – Drums

Produced by: Alan Niven and Michael Lardie

Great White is one of those bands that has been cranking out solid albums for decades now, I haven’t heard a “bad” release from them yet. When you buy a Great White album, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to get because the band doesn’t change up their sound too much, other than some albums having more of a mellow vibe than others. It all still sounds like Great White though.

This album in particular is one of their mellow releases, it doesn’t get as loud as Once Bitten… or …Twice Shy did, but there’s nothing here to complain about either. It’s a solid and respectable album, but its a low-key effort that I think is surpassed even by the band’s output from the 2000s.

This was the last high-ranking album from the band. It debuted on the U.S. charts at #18 and eventually went gold, whereas …Twice Shy was double platinum. It’s easy to say “Oh, well, it was 1991, grunge was taking over, that’s why it didn’t do so well”, but the album was released in January ’91, nine months before Nirvana destroyed the hair metal genre.

It was the lack of powerful single that damaged the band more than a changing musical climate. The band tried to replicate the success of their “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” cover with “Call It Rock N’ Roll”, but the chart-busting magic wasn’t there this time around and there’s nothing here on the level of “Rock Me”, “Save Your Love” or “The Angel Song” either.

Highlights: “Call It Rock N’ Roll”, “Can’t Shake It”, “Desert Moon”, “Afterglow”

www.greatwhiterocks.com
www.myspace.com/officialgreatwhite

DEF LEPPARD – On Through the Night

Def Leppard – On Through the Night (1980, Mercury Records)

1. “Rock Brigade” (3:09)
2. “Hello America” (3:27)
3. “Sorrow Is A Woman” (3:54)
4. “It Could Be You” (2:33)
5. “Satellite” (4:28)
6. “When the Walls Came Tumbling Down” (4:44)
7. “Wasted” (3:45)
8. “Rocks Off” (3:42)
9. “It Don’t Matter” (3:21)
10. “Answer to the Master” (3:13)
11. “Overture” (7:44)

Band:
Joe Elliott – Lead Vocals
Steve Clark – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Pete Willis – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rick Savage – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rick Allen – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Chris Hughes – Synthesizer

Produced by: Tom Allom

Wait… What is this? Is this a Def Leppard album? Is this HEAVY METAL? “Yes” to both questions!

Despite Joe Elliott’s statements that Def Leppard were NEVER “heavy metal” (Seriously, Joe, are you trying to convince the fans or yourself?), this is indeed a heavy metal album. New Wave of British Heavy Metal, to be exact. I didn’t buy this album until far into being a fan of Def Leppard. I loved the “Mutt Lange sound” so much that hearing them do heavy metal wasn’t a top priority for me.

I’ve probably owned this album for about 7 or 8 years now and while I rarely listen to it, it’s a definite NWOBHM classic. I prefer the pop metal/glam rock sound the band would later evolve to, but you can’t deny the power behind metal classics like “Rock Brigade”, “It Could Be You”, “Rocks Off” and “Wasted” (my favorite song from this album). IF the band had continued in this heavy metal direction, they would’ve been doing just fine. More than likely, they wouldn’t have been as popular, but they could’ve been a great heavy metal band nonetheless.

You can really see how far Joe has come as a vocalist. He’s got the generic NWOBHM whiny/nasally vocals down here, but it pales in comparison to what he would do later. He’s not necessarily a great singer, but I’ve always enjoyed his voice.

Nearly 30 years after this album’s release, there are still some rock fans who call out for Def Leppard to “return to their roots” and get all New Wave of British Heavy Metal on us. Well, I think it is time to STOP saying that!

It’s been DECADES since On Through the Night and High ‘n’ Dry (which was somewhat of a bridge between this album and Pyromania anyway) and they were their first two albums. Many bands evolve as they continue to tour and record. Sometimes their “roots” aren’t really afforded the opportunity to shine until the band has proven themselves as a solid and bankable act. How many bands can say they sound exactly like they did on their first release? And would that even be a good thing to say? As far as I’m concerned, the sound they put in motion with legendary producer Mutt Lange is their “roots”. That sound has more in common with the glitter & glam rock they grew up on than this album does.

Longtime Judas Priest producer Tom Allom sat in the chair for these sessions. Not surprisingly, the band has kind of turned their back on this album, even going as far to say that High ‘n’ Dry is their first “real” release.

Highlights: “Rock Brigade”, “Sorrow Is A Woman”, “It Could Be You”, “When the Walls Came Tumbling Down”, “Wasted”, “Rocks Off”

www.defleppard.com
www.myspace.com/defleppard

KISS – Love Gun

KISS – Love Gun [Remastered] (1997, Mercury Records/Casablanca Records)
Original Release: 1977, Casablanca Records

1. “I Stole Your Love” (3:04 )
2. “Christine Sixteen” (3:14 )
3. “Got Love for Sale’ (3:27 )
4. “Shock Me” (3:46)
5. “Tomorrow and Tonight” (3:38)
6. “Love Gun” (3:18)
7. “Hooligan” (2:59)
8. “Almost Human” (2:47)
9. “Plaster Caster” (3:28 )
10. “Then She Kissed Me” (3:02)

Band:
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass (“Love Gun”)
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Produced by: Eddie Kramer

An iconic hard rock record from an iconic hard rock band… And hey, guess what? The album sports an iconic album cover!

The great thing about KISS’ 1970s output was that the albums were short and sweet. The songs didn’t overstay their welcome (nothing touches the 4 minute mark here) and they usually kept the albums at 10 songs, so it really cut out the chance for filler.

Some of the band’s most well-known songs are here: “I Stole Your Love”, “Christine Sixteen”, “Plaster Caster”, “Shock Me” and of course my favorite KISS song — “Love Gun” (Paul has often said it’s his favorite as well).

“Hooligan” is another great lead vocal track by Peter Criss. I’ve always loved his voice and his songs always deliver on the KISS albums. It’s when he’s left to his own devices that his music becomes spotty. “Tomorrow and Tonight”, I have to admit, is pretty lame. It’s basically the band going for another “Rock And Roll All Nite” (“tomorrow and tonight, tomorrow and tonight, we can rock all day, we can roll all night…”). “Then She Kissed Me” is a re-working of The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me”. A lot of people have given this song a thumbs down over the years, but I think it’s pretty cool.

I don’t care much for “Plaster Caster” either, to be honest. It was written about Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was famous for making casts of um… male body parts. I’ve read rumors that this was written by Gene as a way to entice Cynthia to cast him, but I’m pretty sure if he called her up and asked, she would have done it. More than likely, it was just a song written to grab a few headlines and nothing more.

Highlights: “I Stole Your Love”, “Love Gun”, “Hooligan”, “Almost Human”, “Then She Kissed Me”

www.kissonline.com
www.myspace.com/kiss

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