Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Invasion Of Our Privacy

Heritage artists are outraged that people have moved to streaming and piracy instead of buying CD’s and vinyl. So they speak up about it and take a stand. But when it comes to their internet privacy being sold to a corporation, there is nothing. Not even a word. Is it perfectly acceptable to them to have their ISP giving up their browser history for profit?

Where is the anger, the protests, the outrage?

People are outraged that a reality TV show actor has become President and all they talk about are his links to Russia. But when it comes to their internet privacy there isn’t a word. Nothing. It must be perfectly acceptable to them to have the Republican’s allow their ISP to sell their browser history.

Where is the anger, the protests, the outrage?

Governments pass laws that discriminate against minorities and people speak up. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show. So did Pearl Jam. But when governments pass laws abusing our privacy, nothing.

Where are the music heroes now, standing up for the majority of the citizens, instead of the minority?

Governments issue executive orders banning certain races from travelling to their country and there’s an uproar. But when that same government allows their own citizen’s browsers history to be sold for profit, there is nothing heard from the people.

Where is the uproar?

Metal and rock artists rallied to save the staff at Team Rock when they were all made redundant before Christmas 2016. But nothing from no one around internet privacy.

Why is it when it comes to protecting ourselves as individuals, we remain silent.

Governments deny climate change and people scream in protest. Governments take away our privacy and there is silence.

The reason why we have anti-consumer rules in the first place is because of corporation corruption. Verizon (along with other ISP’s around the world) decided it was a good idea to secretly change the wireless packets of its customers, so Verizon could track them on the internet without telling them. Or about how other ISP’s like AT&T and Comcast (along with other ISP’s around the world) who decided it was a good business model to charge their customers a higher premium for privacy. Or how CableONE thought it was a good idea to use the financial data they have on their customers to provide their customer service. If a customer had a good credit rating that meant good customer service and a bad credit customer meant bad customer service.

Geoff Tate/Queensryche nailed it with “Speak”.

The rich control the government, the media the law

Laws are getting written every day to benefit corporations who already have billions. And a little bit more of our privacy disappears more and more each time. And right now, elected officials worldwide are enacting laws that allow corporations to invade our privacy a little bit more, figuring we just didn’t care and are not paying attention.

So what happened to the voices now? The artists who decided to stand up against censorship, but not privacy.

We need more of them to speak up for our rights, like how in 1985, Dee Snider spoke up against censorship while the rest of the metal heads remained silent.

But in the end, the lyrics from Cog’s “Problem, Reaction, Solution” sum it all up.

At the end of the day I know,
That we work all our lives to pay for a cage they own
It ain’t no coincidence that the whole world is caught in an endless debt

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Jet City Woman

It’s a Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate composition and another Queensryche single that clocks in over 5 minutes. It’s basically a love song and a road song rolled into one, but devoid of clichés and overused words. On the Japanese edition of “Empire”, Chris DeGarmo said that the song was inspired by “being on the road for a very long time and Geoff Tate was thinking about a woman he loves”.

In the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge, Geoff Tate basically said “”Jet City Woman is about a woman from Seattle.” Wikipedia tells the story that it was written about Geoff Tate’s first wife, who was a flight attendant

The song has so many mood changes that are absent from so many of today’s “hits”. Hell, the first 43 seconds of the song is all instrumental. In the FFDP/Shinedown world they would be into their second chorus by then.

INTRO A
0.00 to 0.07
The simple bass and high hats groove has me nodding my head almost instantly. It is not made for radio, but a radio hit it became.  It’s interesting how Eddie Jackson employs picks for the studio and uses his fingers for performing live. Using a pick, just brings out the mids so that the bass line stands out.

INTRO B
0.08 to 0.25
Then Chris DeGarmo comes in with a little lead break.

INTRO C
0.26 to 0.43
Then Michael Wilton comes in, with power chords crashing all around and the energy of the song picks up, with a lead break full of bluesy double stop bends. Check out the progressive way Scott Rockenfield drums this simple 4/4 section, especially towards the end as it phases from the intro into the verse.

I’m hooked by know.

VERSE 1
0.44 to 1.17
Then the verses come. The arpeggiated chords with the B and E as open strings, showed me a different way to play. Years later, I would learn that this method is something that Alex Lifeson employed a lot in Rush. Anyway, hearing the clean tone arpeggios, over the intro bass guitar line is familiar and new. Rockenfield makes the verses rock when they shouldn’t. For any drummer in the scene, listen and learn.

Every time I leave
You say you won’t be there.
And you’re always there.

The road songs are a dime a dozen. The best ones, live forever. “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Long Cold Winter” and “Turn The Page” are a few that come to mind immediately.

PRE CHORUS
1.18 to 1.33
The last word of the verse leads into the pre-chorus. Brilliant

Over a simple chord progression, I love the way DeGarmo and Wilton employ octaves to enhance this section. I never used power chord octaves prior to learning “Jet City Woman”.

What you do to me!
Waited so long I can’t wait another day without you.

CHORUS
1.34 to 1.52
There’s so much to learn as a guitarist in this chorus, like the phrasing of the power chords, the use of octaves to enhance the melody of the music and act as a counterpoint to the vocal melody, the way the drums groove and the bass locks in either with the drums or with the guitars.

Jet City Woman.
It’s a long way, home to my
Jet City Woman.
I see her face everywhere, can’t get her out of my mind.

1990 was an exciting time for bands who wanted to push boundaries. I had no idea that “Jet City” referred to Seattle. Listening to music and coming across unknown terms, led to research.

DOWNER SECTION
1.53 to 2.04
Back to the Intro B section lead guitar but this time with the arpeggios of the first verse.

By now, I was thinking, how the hell did this band ever open up for Metallica.  “Empire” was the only piece of music I had from them and three songs into the album, it was progressive pop rock, which is a far cry from Metallica’s technical thrash metal.

Then we are back to the verse and the song goes on.

GUITAR SOLO SECTION
3.38 to 4.12

A 30 second guitar solo is unheard of today from bands on the rock radio charts.

Tremonti and Alter Bridge are pushing some boundaries there. Sixx AM with DJ Ashba are also breaking out some shred. Avenged Sevenfold don’t mind going for a minute or two, however for the rest it’s like a 10 to 15 second section, if any. Unless you are on the fringes and have a cult following like Black Label Society, Evergrey, Protest The Hero and so forth. But this was a guitar solo from a band at their commercial peak.

“Jet City Woman” is a brilliant song that’s been completely forgotten. One YouTube user account has racked up 2,079,291 views. On Spotify, it has 1,525,122 streams. Compared to some of the junk songs that have over 100 million streams, these amounts come to nothing.

Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction” has five times more streams than “Jet City Woman” and Megadeth didn’t sell anywhere near what Queensryche sold during the same period. It just goes to show that multi-platinum sales in the nineties mean nothing 20 years later if you don’t release music consistently and on occasions of a certain quality, the artist ends up a shadow of themselves or in some cases, they end up in the history books.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Best I Can – Chris DeGarmo

By the late eighties, Queensryche had broken through in the U.S, however failed to make a dent in the Australian market. I came across their name, when Dave Mustaine called them “Yuppie” metal in a Guitar World magazine, and Metallica had them opening on the “…And Justice For All” tour.

I wanted to hear their music. Records were expensive, so radio thrived. However Queensryche never got played on the radio in Australia. Then “Empire” came out and it was all over the record store. It was my first purchase of the band. A blind purchase based on the press I read.

“Best I Can” is the opening track of Queensryche’s biggest album. It clocks in at 5.30, which for the time was a rarity to have a song clock in over 4 minutes.

Chris DeGarmo is listed as the sole songwriter, in the same way, he is listed as the main songwriter on “Silent Lucidity”, the track that pushed the “Empire’ album to multi-platinum sales. So how do you follow-up your breakthrough album, which against the odds, was a concept album.

You follow it up with a kick ass rock album that tackles serious subject matter. And “Best I Can” has some serious issues to bring forth.

As DeGarmo once said in the October issue of RIP

“Empire was a change of direction, in that we just wrote about whatever it was we wanted to write about. It was all written while we were at home, so there’s a lot of inspiration from Seattle.”

In the Kerrang, June 1990 issue, Chris DeGarmo said the following for “Best I Can”;

“It’s about a young boy who has a tragic accident as a child, and has to overcome his handicaps to make something of his life, and overcome what others perceive to be a handicap. It’s a song, basically, about beating the odds.”

“Don’t worry, dear. He’ll never find the gun.”

And then, the ominous piano line kicks in and the child like operatic voices come in.

Brilliant.

Queensryche had my attention.

A child alone in daddy’s room
The gun was hidden here
No one home to catch me when I fall

Then the band kicks in. It’s a stop start of music and vocals, sort of like “Crying In The Rain” and “Still Of The Night” from Whitesnake but still it’s unique, it doesn’t sound like anyone else.

A young man now in a private chair
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare
But my dream is still alive
I’m going to be the best I can

There is the positive message that DeGarmo is talking about. The dream to be somebody is still alive, regardless of the situation. We are always looking for more, not satisfied with what we have. And music always opened up my horizons. “Best I Can” isn’t mindless dancing and money music. It’s grim, truthful and hopeful.

Geoff Tate had the following to say in the December 1990 issue of Hit Parader;

“Best I Can touches on gun control, but it’s really the story of a young boy who gets shot and is paralysed. He just strives to be the best he can be – it’s really an upbeat story.”

Tate further elaborated on the song in the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge;

“Best I Can touches on gun control, how a young child finds a gun in his parents’ room, maims himself with it and becomes handicapped but doesn’t give into his handicap. He keeps pushing ahead to be a better person and achieve his goals.”

I want to be a busy man
I want to see a change in the future
I’m gonna make the best of what I have
I want to write for a magazine
I’m gonna be the best they’ve ever seen
I know I’ll win if I give it all I can

The piano groove is back and it’s magic.

The man in the chair and the man that’s in my dream
I’m going to melt the two men into one

Chris DeGarmo’s idea to tackle subjects so far removed from the hard rock infrastructure proved to be Queensryche’s X factor in the musical industry.

It’s worth noting that DeGarmo’s musical influence far exceeded the amount of units Queensryche moved.

He inspired legions of guitar players to step up and be more complete songwriters. If I look at my favourite guitarists from the Eighties, not many of them wrote any lyrics and vocal melodies. They wrote riffs and leads.

For all of Eddie’s innovative guitar playing, David Lee Roth and then Sammy Hagar had sole responsibility over the lyrics and vocal melodies. John Sykes’s biggest career songs are co-writes with David Coverdale and Phil Lynott. Randy Rhoads needed the magical words of Bob Daisley to bring his riffs to the masses. George Lynch needed Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown to write lyrics and vocal melodies for his riffs. And the list goes on.

But Chris DeGarmo didn’t need a vocalist to write a complete song. He wrote the vocal melodies, lyrics and music to “Best I Can” and of course to “Silent Lucidity” which proved to be Queensryche’s biggest song.

I see the influence of DeGarmo in another favourite of mine, John Petrucci from Dream Theater.

I see the influence of DeGarmo in different genres. In the mid-nineties, Fuel came out with Carl Bell on guitars and of course as the main songwriter. Once Carl Bell left Fuel, the same thing happened to Fuel as to Queensryche, after DeGarmo left.

And Chris DeGarmo gave it all he can and he won.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Metal Without Limits

Hot Metal was a monthly Australian publication that I religiously purchased each month between 1989 and sometime towards the end of 1995.

The issue I am flicking through right now is the August 1991 issue.

In the mag there is an interview with Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton from Queensryche taking place during the “Empire” tour. The album by this time had moved over 1.6 million copies in the U.S and MTV had “Silent Lucidity” in constant rotation. By December of the same year, the RIAA would certify the album as 2x Platinum.

Chris DeGarmo interviews well. He comes up with a lot of good quotes and truths.

“Rock records seen to have these long legs. We learned that with Operation Mindcrime.”

So true. Rock and Metal records if done right just continue to stick around. While Pop might rule the airwaves and get the mainstream ink, rock and metal records just keep on sticking around. Let me rephrase that; the great rock and metal records just keep on sticking around.

Look at the Whitesnake 1987 album. It came out in March, 1987. By January 1988, it was certified Platinum x5 (for U.S sales). By July 1992 it was certified Platinum x6, By February 1995, it was certified Platinum x8. It just kept on sticking around almost 8 years after its release.

Go on Spotify and YouTube and you will see counts of 10 million plus for “Here I Go Again”, “Is This Love” and “Still Of The Night”. It’s still sticking around.

There is another issue from July 1989 that also caught my attention and that one has another interview with Chris DeGarmo;

“Who are Queensryche? Why, after years of slogging around, supporting everyone from Bon Jovi to Metallica, has “Operation Mindcrime” suddenly captured the imagination of a whole new world of listeners? “

They caught the mainstream by surprise with “Operation Mindcrime”. No one knew what to do with them. Chris DeGarmo was pressured in the interview to describe Queensryche’s brand of music. This was his answer.

“Hmmm, lets see, aggressive pop music? (laughs). No, I wouldn’t call it that. I guess it would be… metal without limits.”

Not too sure how many people read Guitar World. In a December 1991 issue Dave Mustaine referred to Queensryche as “Yuppie Metal” which I found hilarious. But you know what, DeGarmo is spot on with both of his definitions. How cool does “aggressive pop music” and “metal without limits” sound?

“Promised Land” was their real “metal without limit”s album. The overall sound was still rooted within the hard rock/metal genres, however there was a melancholy undertow simmering underneath that dabbled in different styles and song structures. It didn’t have a crossover hit single, but man, it has some killer moods.

It was very interesting how we had been out there working our asses off for the better part of a year and some people thought this new album had just come out.”

You see even back in 1992. getting the news out there was still a challenge. So when you add to that challenge all the noise that the internet creates, you can see that the difficulty in getting your name out there today has grown exponentially. And for any artist in the music game, getting your name out there is still the challenge. Not P2P.

“In a lot of people’s minds we are a new band and we have to get used to that.”

Spot on.

Hell, a lot of people thought that the 1987 Whitesnake album was Whitesnake’s first album. When I looked at the video clip for “Still Of The Night”, I couldn’t make sense why the album shows one guitarist and the video clip has two. The information travelled slow and for me in Australia it was tied up in expensive import magazines.

Bon Jovi broke out big with “Slippery When Wet” and when these new fans found out that “Slippery” was actually the bands third album, they started snapping up the back catalogue. By February 1987, “7800 Fahrenheit” was certified Platinum, while “Slippery When Wet” reached Platinum x6 at the same time.

For Queensryche, “Rage For Order” and “The Warning” achieved a Gold certification in 1991. And that is because of the “Empire” album and the success of “Silent Lucidity”.

Artists could be huge in certain states or countries however it didn’t mean that the whole world or even their own country knew about them. And this was in the era when the record labels controlled everything and even they couldn’t get the narrative out.

“It’s funny when someone comes up to you and says, ‘I heard that song “Silent Lucidity”. Do you guys have any more songs?’. You don’t want to insult them by saying, ‘Of course we do, you fool. We have been around for ages!’ How are they to know, when no one has ever played any of it?”

The importance of MTV during the eighties and the early nineties was astronomical for a band to get that instant payola. If their clip got constant rotation on the channel, then the platinum armies would come a knocking. So while “Eyes Of A Stranger” opened up the MTV door, it was “Jet City Woman”, “Another Rainy Night” and “Silent Lucidity” that took it to a whole new level. However, it was only those songs that MTV played, so if people didn’t go out and purchase the old catalogue how were they supposed to hear it.

“There wasn’t enough people into Queensryche to support coming to Australia. If we came we would like to bring the whole show, but we’re just not sure of our following there”. 

They never came to Australia during the height of their popularity. The first Queensryche album I got was a cassette recording of “Operation Mindcrime”. “Empire” by default became a blind purchase for me.

I watched Queensryche in 2009, a version of the band that was missing Chris DeGarmo. The venue was at 1500 capacity. The ticket cost $80. The tour was billed as songs from “Rage For Order”, “Empire” and “American Soldier”. It was enjoyable to watch and no time would we have known the bullshit that was going to come.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

We Don’t Live In A Happy World

One of the reasons why I got into bands like Metallica, Machine Head, Evergrey, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Twisted Sister and Queensryche (and there are many more bands) is because their lyrics reflect/reflected what was going on in the wider world at that time.

You see we are not living in a Pharell Williams’ “Happy” world.

We are living in a world that is besieged by economic problems. We are living in a world that has democratic governments undertaking surveillance on their citizens like the totalitarian regimes that our grandfathers died fighting against. We are living in a world where the majority of politicians are on the payroll of the corporations. We are living in a world that has a digital divide to go along with a class divide. We are living in a world where privacy is eroded a little bit at a time.

Some of my favourite artists had songs that just spoke to me.

They questioned the system and pointed the finger at the wrongdoers. When our governments lost their way, our heroes always told us so. When society went to hell, our heroes told us so. When epidemics happened, our heroes told us so.

We believed that music could change our lives, if not the world.

“What do you mean I don’t support your system, why do you think I’m broke”.

Dave Mustaine wrote that back in the mid-Eighties. Fast forward almost thirty years, and we are still broke supporting the system. The rich and the powerful caused a global recession and guess what, they got bailed out by the governments while we lost our jobs and homes.

Inequality exists in music as it does in economics. You’re either a winner or a loser and if you cross over, you become a global phenomenon. Think Metallica. There crossover was the “Black” album. That is their victory lap album.

“But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies.”

The above line is from “Revolution Calling” from Queensryche. Spotify cares about Spotify and they want to make millions. Taylor Swift cares about Taylor Swift and she wants to make millions.

Remember all of the suicides post GFC, especially in the Asian countries.

“Words are the bullets to this revolution”

Robb Flynn spits out the line in “Clenching the Fists of Dissent”.

We live in an information age. Everything is at our fingertips so we should put those tools to use to do our own investigations because our media reporting outlets are all owned by large corporations. They report news items that will push their agenda. They report news items that have been paid for by a marketing PR firm. Impartiality is over.

However, there are people out there that look at events and issues critically. WordPress gives us a tool to voice these opinions.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

Barcodes and fingerprints, obedience identikit
It’s time to read the warning signs

COG’s “Are You Listening” released in 2009.

The tragedy of 9/11 brought about a new reality. The erosion of our rights and the erosion of our privacy. Suddenly, the Governments of democracy started to spy on its citizens much like regimes our grandfathers went to war against.

England has cameras on every street corner. This need of protection and surveillance arose due to the IRA terrorist bombings. And they still got bombed in the subways.

The NSA spies on all Americans and their answer is “IT’S OKAY, WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS.”

This was once the land of dreams
Now these dreams have turned to greed
In the midst of all this wealth
The poor are left to help themselves

A capitalist’s democracy
Why no one said that freedom’s free
Lady liberty rots away
No truth, no justice, the American way

Sacred Reich and “The American Way” released in 1990.

The problems of today existed before. However, the it is the people of today that had to bail out the rich. If the POOR or the WORKING CLASS did something fraudulent and corrupt, they would be doing time in a cell. When the RICH do something fraudulent and corrupt they end up screaming to the Government for a bail out and escape without punishment.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was the catch cry once upon a time. In time it will be the catch cry of a new generation.

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Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Queensryche and The Voice Of Queensryche

Queensryche is a band that really influenced me. The vocal melodies, the song construction and the various ways the twin guitars connected, inter-played and complemented each other.

So it was sad to see that all of the news items on the split, the dirty laundry, the sub-par musical releases, the court battles and the private agreements have had more views and reads then the combined Queensryche recorded output since “Hear In The Now Frontier”.

Geoff Tate is now “The Voice Of Queensryche”. Let’s put it this way. That title is not going to bring in any extra fans for Geoff Tate. The only way new fans will invest in him is if the music “The Voice of Queensryche” releases is undeniable.

But Tate is not interested in winning new fans with great music. All he wanted was “Operation Mindcrime” so that any future exploitation of the album into a movie will be all of his to keep.

In relation to “The Voice” moniker, this is all about maintaining an income. It’s all about marketing a tour so that at least a 1000 people attend a show at $50 a ticket.

It’s got nothing to do with pleasing fans and it has nothing to do with gaining new fans.

What about the Todd LaTorre fronted version of Queensryche? That version will more or less recreate similar sound recordings of Queensryche’s past.

And how does Chris DeGarmo’s Queensryche legacy fit in with this “amicable” settlement?

David Lee Roth was fired from Van Halen and billed himself as David Lee Roth. Vince Neil left or was fired (depending on what version you believe) from Motley Crue and billed himself as Vince Neil.

Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden and billed himself as Bruce Dickinson. Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath and billed himself as Ozzy Osbourne. Even Ronnie James Dio billed his solo career under his own name without any references to Rainbow and Black Sabbath.

Because the fans know about their heroes musical roots and backgrounds. Because the fans just want their favourites to keep on creating. The fans don’t need a court order. The need great music.

Granted the court order is also in place for financial reasons and trademarks. And that is what music should not be about.

But that is what happens when music is held hostage to money. That is what happens when music comes second to maintaining the status quo.

The best “amicable” settlement/revenge that Geoff Tate could have given his ex-band mates was an undeniable album or song under his own name.

Nothing drives an enemy more insane than seeing that someone they hate winning.

Instead Geoff Tate delivered a crap album, with a crap mix and started ranting on stage about smartphones. As John Wayne once said, “life is hard and it’s harder if you’re stupid”.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

That C#m7(add9) Chord

As a guitar player it was that C#m7(add9) chord that got me hooked.

It is basically a C#5 power chord played on the 4th fret on the A string. Add the ninth note (the D#) and then let the open B and E strings resonate. It is a beautiful sounding chord. When you tab it out, it looks like this.

——0–
——0–
——8–
——6–
——4–
———

The first time I heard a power chord with the added 9th was in “Message In A Bottle” and then again in “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. Both songs have Sting as the songwriter, however the real credit goes to Andy Summers. He was the one that took a keyboard line or a bass line and made it rock. Even though each song was released in 1979 and 1983, I more or less heard them at the same time in 1984.

That was in the early eighties and with the rise of hard rock and heavy metal it was back to the mighty power chord and pedal point riffs. The smart and beautiful sounding chords sort of got lost.

Then I heard that chord again in 1992. From bands I had no idea about. One band was Dream Theater and the mighty John Petrucci used it in “Take The Time”. The other band was Saigon Kick and their very underrated guitarist/founder/main songwriter/producer/record label owner/studio owner and general music business lifer, Jason Bieler also employed the same sounding chord in the song “Love Is On The Way”.

And that chord has been in my arsenal ever since. If I need to play a C#m chord in a song, that is the one i play. Without fail.

My music listening experience didn’t involve just the song and the melody. In a song there could be just a riff or a lick or a vocal melody that could resonate with me and hook me in. And the sound of that C#m7(add9) chord resonates.

The other chord is this G#m9(#5) that I heard in “Jet City Woman” by Queensryche and again in “Another Day” by Dream Theater.

——0–
——0–
——3–
——4–
——X–
——4–

Hearing “Love Is On The Way” again today, brought back all of those memories.

And that is what music is all about. A soundtrack to our lives. Memories from different times that somehow connect with one another. That is what the C#m7(add9) chord achieved.

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