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  1. #1

    My Sound Of Philadelphia Blog

    Hi! I have started a blog on the music of my birthplace: Philadelphia, PA. So far I have written four entries (The Volcanos' "Storm Warning", The Soul Survivors' "Expressway To Your Heart", The Formations' "At The Top Of The Stairs", and "The Horse" which was credited to Cliff Nobles). The entries so far are in date order, and will continue in that manner until I get to Back Stabbers in 1972 and the Philadelphia International label really takes off.
    The recordings that I am discussing are all favorites from my youth and each recording contributed greatly to the evolution of The Sound Of Philadelphia in a different way. If a recording that you love has been omitted, it is not intended as a slight.
    I would greatly appreciate feedback, and would love to hear about the singles you would like to see discussed in the future. Thank you for your time and if enjoy the blog, I hope you will subscribe. Jim.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/
    Last edited by JimBagley; 08-29-2017 at 10:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Thanks Jim! Philly is one of my hometowns.

  3. #3
    I just checked out your Phillly Soul blog Jim and I think it's great. I learned new things about two of my all-time favorite songs ("The Horse/Love Is All Right" & "Expressway To Your Heart"). I'll be looking forward to future entries. Keep up the good work.

  4. #4
    I plan to follow your blog all the way Jim! Already impressive . AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS is an unknown song to me that I've since already played several times . Displays the Motown influence on early Leon Huff.


    delightful !

    I look forward to one day, hopefully , reading your take on The O'Jays ONE NIGHT AFFAIR , the first record, imo, to sound disco.
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 09-06-2017 at 12:33 AM.

  5. #5
    Thanks for alerting us to your blog. Being a big Philly fan, I too will follow it and look forward to hearing things I've never heard before.

  6. #6
    Thank you to those of you who have checked out My Philly Music blog and special thanks to Marv, Eddie, Boogie, and Mr. June for your kind words and encouragement. My latest entry on The Delfonics' double-sided hit "Ready Or Not Here I Come/Somebody Loves You" is now online. Jim.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/
    Last edited by JimBagley; 09-11-2017 at 01:48 AM.

  7. #7
    Jim, I too, have been enjoying your blog and the Delfonics entry
    is stellar. That group made an impact on so many from Funkadelic
    to the Fugees to crazy man filmmaker Quentin Tarantino...I will be
    waiting for more. Thank you...

  8. #8
    Could I suggest you do a piece on the Showstoppers & "Ain't Nothing But a HouseParty".
    This track didn't do too much (chartwise) in the US though it was a massive UK pop chart hit in both 1968 and 1971 ... it was also re-released again here in 1972, 1976 & 1979 due to continued demand from soul fans.
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  9. #9
    Thank you Splanky and JSmith for your feedback. I will be doing a blog entry on Ain't Nothing But A House Party someday. It is one of my favorite Philadelphia recordings.
    Jim.

  10. #10
    I just read the piece on The Delfonics 'Ready Or Not/Somebody Loves You' single and it's another winner. Would you consider doing a piece on Jerry Butler's Philly Soul work with Gamble & Huff?

  11. #11
    I forgot to mention that another great feature of Jim's Philly Soul Blog is that he includes the chart positions of the songs that he reviews (as well as a list of their various single/album/reissue releases).

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I just read the piece on The Delfonics 'Ready Or Not/Somebody Loves You' single and it's another winner. Would you consider doing a piece on Jerry Butler's Philly Soul work with Gamble & Huff?
    Eddie,
    My next blog entry is on Jerry Butler's Only The Strong Survive, which will deal with His collaborations with Gamble & Huff on Mercury Records.
    Jim.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by JimBagley View Post
    Eddie,
    My next blog entry is on Jerry Butler's Only The Strong Survive, which will deal with His collaborations with Gamble & Huff on Mercury Records.
    Jim.
    That's great Jim. I look forward to reading it. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  14. #14
    My blog entry on Jerry Butler's "Only The Strong Survive" is online at: https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

    Feedback is appreciated. Jim.

  15. #15
    Jim, some great info in your piece on Jerry Butler ... one very small omission IMHO ... being a massive Curtis Mayfield fan, I'd have included the info that Curtis toured as Jerry's guitar player from around 1959 to 1961/2 ... no Philly connection to that fact (other than Jerry / Curtis would have played the Uptown a number of times during that period).
    But your article does include lots of detail that I was unaware of AND I'm a soul facts geek.

  16. #16
    JSmith,
    Thank you for your feedback. The Jerry Butler entry was by far my longest piece to date. I decided to leave out a few things (like Mayfield being Butler's guitarist during Butler's early years as a soloist, as well as Jerry Ross being Butler's producer at Mercury before Gamble & Huff, and Ross being Gamble's main songwriting collaborator before Huff) in an attempt to keep the story flowing. I hope I made the right choices. Jim.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by JimBagley View Post
    My blog entry on Jerry Butler's "Only The Strong Survive" is online at: https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

    Feedback is appreciated. Jim.

    Just read your piece on Jerry Butler's "Only The Strong Survive" and it's great. Something I'd like to add - according to the notes to The Philadelphia Sessions CD, neither Jerry nor Producers Gamble & Huff saw hit potential in the song. Then as you mentioned, a DJ in Dallas started playing the song as his sign-off song and the rest is music history. Keep up the good work.

  18. #18
    Thank you Jim for the details concerning ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE !


    I had mentioned earlier here that I thought that ONE NIGHT AFFAIR was the first record to have the "disco" sound. I didn't want to complicate things, so I didn't mention I've always felt that distinction should be shared with this record , each with their own reasons , and also because I'm not really sure which record was actually recorded first (ONLY STRONG charted first). My confusion comes from the O'Jays poor (dated) sound quality as compared to OTSS , which implies that it was recorded in an older less sophisticated studio and as you point out, Jim, OTSS wasn't:


    Recording “Only The Strong Survive” and most of The Iceman Cometh at Joe Tarsia’s recently opened state of the art Sigma Sound Studio brought Philly music to new sonic heights
    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/
    What a difference! This gives OTSS a much clearer expansive sound , one that would advance it into a new era of recording quality , whereas ONE NIGHT AFFAIR is disadvantaged as sounding like music from earlier times , even though really it wasn't . (just a product of a lesser studio)
    I won't go into this comparison completely , just a bit more about ONLY THE STRONG:
    The clarity in the sound recording , it makes each instrument so much more significant, Vince's xylophone , the busy strings , Roland Chambers guitar, even the female back up , the clear presence of elements that helped define disco music. The primary TSOP disco cast of the future is involved here including Thom Bell and Bobby Martin.
    The only thing holding this back from being disco is that the song's structure is disjointed , the storytelling being slower and non dancable, but when it shifts into its upbeat mode, all the needed elements are there, including its uplifting optimistic vibe. The churning baseline in OTSS is the same that will be brought back and used in Trammps songs like DISCO INFERNO and THAT'S WHERE THE HAPPY PEOPLE GO .

    They obviously didn't recognize that they had pioneered a special new sound here , one that was about to grab the imagination of the public in a huge way: incredible that this would be the FOURTH single off the album and even then they had to be coerced into it.



    listen two minutes on : there's one word for it : disco!


    Boogiedown!
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 09-25-2017 at 11:01 PM.

  19. #19
    Your blog is awesome, Jim. And, like your many contributions to Goldmine, it is very well written.

    I remember a few (or so) years ago a Listener’s Choice show you did for Midnight Johnny’s “Night Flight” program. That show was my very first introduction to “At The Top Of The Stairs” by the Formations. And it totally blew my mind that I had not heard of the song before. I was in high school in 1968 and already knew all the mom and pop record stores in and around my (predominately Black and Latino) neighborhood as well as the record stores downtown. But I had never heard of the song or group (not even on Wolfman Jack’s programs). I couldn’t believe I had missed out on such a great song, which was exactly the type of music I was listening to. Anyway it was a great discovery – better late than never – and I love it.

    Continued success with your blog, I look forward to reading future articles.

  20. #20
    Thank you Joseph and Boogie for your feedback.
    Joseph, "At The Top Of The Stairs" remains one of my favorite Philly recordings. I am psyched every time someone gets introduced to it and I was very happy to get to speak to John Madara about its creation.
    Boogie, thank you for your thoughts on One Night Affair and Only The Strong Survive. The sound clarity on the latter was so key to its success and in the future success of Philadelphia International.

  21. #21
    Jim, the blog is great. Don't take our observations as criticism.
    BTW, I've got his book but haven't got around to reading it yet. But the above info will certainly help add colour to what (no doubt) is in the book.
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    Last edited by jsmith; 09-28-2017 at 02:38 AM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    Jim, the blog is great. Don't take our observations as criticism.

    BTW, I've got his book but haven't got around to reading it yet. But the above info will certainly help add colour to what (no doubt) is in the book.
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    I appreciate all of the feedback provided on this site. I am trying to balance writing for knowledgeable folks (such as the people on Soulful Detroit) & family and friends from the Delaware Valley who know little or nothing about the history of these records and TSOP. The balancing act also extends to the selection of the recordings in the blog. It might be more personally satisfying to discuss only lesser known gems like The Formations' "At The Top Of The Stairs", but the readers who are casual music fans most enjoy the entries on the huge hits like "Expressway To Your Heart" and "The Horse" which were a part of their lives (and they were/are certainly a big part of my life too).

    Jim.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    Jim, the blog is great. Don't take our observations as criticism.
    Absolutely right . It's anything but .


    I find Philly Soul as engaging as Motown and I'm glad you've created a blog Jim focusing on it , one which can be used as a springboard for further dialogue here !
    So , a bit more on Jerry Butler . About that same period that Gamble and Huff were working on Jerry's album , they were also putting together one for the O'Jays: THE OJAYS IN PHILADELPHIA, which would include ONE NIGHT AFFAIR . I have to wonder if perhaps they didn't try out ONE NIGHT AFFAIR with Jerry Butler as well but for some reason shelved the idea. My reasoning is that somehow Jerry became aware of the song , and he didn't record it with Gamble and Huff even on their follow-up album , but it must have made an impression on him somehow along the way because a couple of years later a version of ONA resurfaces on one of Jerry's albums not associated with Gamble and Huff at all (and recorded in Memphis) .
    Re-examining that song paid off for Jerry Butler:
    on the Soul Chart , the O'jays version peaked at #15,
    --- Jerry's : at #6



    Its a liberated attitude born of the sexual revolution .... none of this falling in love , committed relationship stuff ... honey, let's not pretend: --- I'm interested in you,yes , .... for a one night hook up that is !
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 10-01-2017 at 02:25 AM.

  24. #24
    RE: I find Philly Soul as engaging as Motown and I'm glad you've created a blog Jim focusing on it ....
    . . . . . ... FUNNY YOU SHOULD SAY THAT . . . see this ... G&H talking about Philly Int back in early 1971 (just as they had landed the distribution deal with Columbia & were out actively trying to get a higher profile for their expanding roster of artists ...
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  25. #25
    The TV show from the above piece ...
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  26. #26
    that is a great historical document jsmith Getting a national distribution deal with CBS (under Clive Davis' leadership) eliminated so much of the headaches of independent distribution (as Motown did) especially billing and shipping. Good stuff!

    ... now if I may , back to the song of focus:

    ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE , (which I contend is one of the first songs ever to incorporate a disco sound)

    --- Philly International gives it a full disco work out almost ten years later in 1977 under the voice of Billy Paul :




    but by 1977 the TSOP gang had been relegated to second and third tier players , and missing is the detail of Vince Montana's xylophone and the crucial churning bass line of the original . This version failed to incite.

  27. #27
    and

    a bit more.
    Someone asked elsewhere here if Elvis recorded any Motown songs? Look forward to reading the answer to that .

    Well, he did do Philly , at least once, this song in fact!:


    The xylophone is gone, the stings pulled too far back , but the churning baseline is maintained!

    Did he do others ? I can't think of any ...

  28. #28
    An industry photo that might just prompt another blog entry .... from 1971 ...
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  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    RE: I find Philly Soul as engaging as Motown and I'm glad you've created a blog Jim focusing on it ....
    . . . . . ... FUNNY YOU SHOULD SAY THAT . . . see this ... G&H talking about Philly Int back in early 1971 (just as they had landed the distribution deal with Columbia & were out actively trying to get a higher profile for their expanding roster of artists ...
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    Thanks for sharing this JSmith. I remember watching Soul! on PBS back in 1971 and I saw the episode featuring Billy Paul & The Ebonys. The show also spotlighted Gamble & Huff's then new label, Philadelphia International. And what a great contribution they would make to Soul Music during the '70s!

  30. #30
    You'll have to do an entry on Bunny Sigler (RIP) ... such a talent, making good records from the 50's thru past the 80's ...
    An early one that showed his promise ...

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Absolutely right . It's anything but .


    I find Philly Soul as engaging as Motown and I'm glad you've created a blog Jim focusing on it , one which can be used as a springboard for further dialogue here !
    So , a bit more on Jerry Butler . About that same period that Gamble and Huff were working on Jerry's album , they were also putting together one for the O'Jays: THE OJAYS IN PHILADELPHIA, which would include ONE NIGHT AFFAIR . I have to wonder if perhaps they didn't try out ONE NIGHT AFFAIR with Jerry Butler as well but for some reason shelved the idea. My reasoning is that somehow Jerry became aware of the song , and he didn't record it with Gamble and Huff even on their follow-up album , but it must have made an impression on him somehow along the way because a couple of years later a version of ONA resurfaces on one of Jerry's albums not associated with Gamble and Huff at all (and recorded in Memphis) .
    Re-examining that song paid off for Jerry Butler:
    on the Soul Chart , the O'jays version peaked at #15,
    --- Jerry's : at #6



    Its a liberated attitude born of the sexual revolution .... none of this falling in love , committed relationship stuff ... honey, let's not pretend: --- I'm interested in you,yes , .... for a one night hook up that is !
    While I don't know (yet) if Gamble & Huff tried out "One Night Affair" with Jerry Butler before recording it with The O'Jays but I feel that Jerry's is the better version of the song.

  32. #32
    (while we await the next blog post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    While I don't know (yet) if Gamble & Huff tried out "One Night Affair" with Jerry Butler before recording it with The O'Jays but I feel that Jerry's is the better version of the song.
    What do you think of this one , Esther Phillips from 1975:


  33. #33
    I didn't know Esther Phillips did a version of 'One Night Affair' before hearing this. It's very good (and a great 'answer record' to Jerry Butler's version of the song). Thanks Boogiedown!

  34. #34
    you are most welcome . Got room for one more? I think this is the last one in the series. And another attempt in a disco style , yet imo not nearly as successful in that respect as the original O'Jay pre-disco version. By Samona Cooke (???)



    who knew the ladies of that era were such whor.... I mean so open and carefree !!

    hit and run!
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 10-14-2017 at 10:13 PM.

  35. #35
    Hi! Just added my latest blog entry on the instrumental "Keem-O-Sabe" by The Electric Indian (Philly studio group that included Bobby Eli, Vince Montana, and Daryl Hall). Thank you for keeping this thread alive with the great discussion on "One Night Affair" and its various versions.
    My day job has kept me busy and it's been a few weeks since my last blog post. Hope to have an interview with the performer on my next blog post. Be well. Jim.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

  36. #36
    Interesting choice Jim ! thanks!

    When I first stumbled on this LP a few years back, I thought I'd found something really obscure. Until now, I had no idea that KEEM- O -SABE had been a Top Twenty Pop hit ( it certainly wasn't in my neck of the woods) and also reached #6 Easy Listening of all things ( I guess it's instrumental aspect contributed to that).

    I noticed the "B" side of the single , "BROAD STREET", is not on the album .
    What is on the LP though is their version of a tune you've already discussed :


  37. #37
    oh ya
    there are also a couple of Motown song covers on the LP . Here's I HEARD IT THOUGH THE GRAPEVINE :



    has a marching band quality to it to my ears .

  38. #38
    My latest entry on Eddie Holman's "Hey There Lonely Girl" is now online. Jim.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by JimBagley View Post
    My latest entry on Eddie Holman's "Hey There Lonely Girl" is now online. Jim.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/
    I'm not sure how much universal appeal the high squeaky voice of Eddie Holman could have eventually garnered , but WE LOVED his high-pitched wooooos with the masculine Trammps-like voices backing him in the gay discos of San Francisco back in 1977:



    sweeping orchestrated disco perfection. Once again Philadelphia International really missed out by not having the distribution rights to this .

  40. #40
    Jim,
    I just became aware of your labor of love today and only had time to look at it briefly. I will delve further into it, but appreciate the love and care I see exhibited.I am absolutely knocked out by it. With apologies to my former singing neighbor in West Oak Lane, Joe Frazier and and his group the Knockouts. Who was while a credible song stylist had much more success in his other profession.

    As a lover of the Philadelphia music scene this blog is very welcome, and I hope that the focus will help unearth more of the videos of these songs from the Hy Lit Show, or the Jerry Blavett show. Because while The Formations song "At The Top of The Stairs", is a great song, to see the 5 guys looking very sharp in their Krass Brothers Menswear supplied double breasted suits matched with a turtleneck sweater, is really experiencing the song.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown4Ever518 View Post
    Jim,
    I just became aware of your labor of love today and only had time to look at it briefly. I will delve further into it, but appreciate the love and care I see exhibited.I am absolutely knocked out by it. With apologies to my former singing neighbor in West Oak Lane, Joe Frazier and and his group the Knockouts. Who was while a credible song stylist had much more success in his other profession.

    As a lover of the Philadelphia music scene this blog is very welcome, and I hope that the focus will help unearth more of the videos of these songs from the Hy Lit Show, or the Jerry Blavett show. Because while The Formations song "At The Top of The Stairs", is a great song, to see the 5 guys looking very sharp in their Krass Brothers Menswear supplied double breasted suits matched with a turtleneck sweater, is really experiencing the song.
    “If you didn’t buy your suit from Krass Brothers, you wuz robbed.”

    I loved their cheap 10-15 second commercials when I was a kid. I only went to Krass Brothers once. I went to Boyds men’s store more often, but they were expensive, so I could only afford one or two things.
    Last edited by JimBagley; 12-24-2017 at 07:57 PM.

  42. #42
    I shopped a lot at Boyds......the window variety.

  43. #43
    My latest blog entry on the Philadelphia Christmas favorite "Merry Christmas All" by Denise Montana & The Salsoul Orchestra is now online. Merry Christmas all. Jim.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

  44. #44
    My latest blog entry on Brenda and The Tabulations and "Right On The Tip Of My Tongue" is now online. I am sorry it has been so long since my last entry. Jim

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by JimBagley View Post
    My latest blog entry on Brenda and The Tabulations and "Right On The Tip Of My Tongue" is now online. I am sorry it has been so long since my last entry. Jim

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/
    Hey Jim, welcome back. I enjoyed reading your entry on "Right On The Tip Of My Tongue" (a true classic of early '70s Philly Soul). And another one of Brenda & the Tabulations' songs, "The Touch Of You", received a remake by Kool & the Gang (on their Live At The Sex Machine LP).

  46. #46
    Hello, Jim and all!

    Great stuff by you all and great work on your great blog, Jim.

    Sadly I have been without time for nothing during months and... I have seen your post and visited your blog TODAY (!!). What a great pleasure as I'm a spanish Philly Soul lover since my teens.

    (My first vynil adquisition at 14 years - old was "Ship Ahoy" album by The O'Jays, after I was immediately in love with the song "Put Your Hands Together" that everyday was played on the turntable in the restaurant were I started working at the summer when finished the course in High Scool. I comes to the music store, they don't have the compilation "El Sonido de Filadelfia, Vol. 1" that sounded in the restaurant but they have the LP were belongs my favorite song). Since the summer of 1975 on, I never stoped to hear Soul music (and jazz and fusion and other styles) but along the years I have spend thousands of hours hearding my favorite sound and artists: the sublime symphonic soul of Philadelphia and Chicago (from The Chi-lites and Curtis to Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, passing trough Soulful Strings, MFSB, Jerry Butler, Bunny Sigler and Dee Dee Sharp).

    A question that intrigate me is how difficult could be to compiles info about the quantity and diversity of Philly Soul outside productions (if we consider the artists and labels who worked with G & H, Thom Bell, B-H-Y, V. Montana, B. Eli... from Fania All-Stars to Stanley Turrentine, passing trough Eddie Kendricks... from Capitol and Spring Records to Motown... the volume of the "Philly soul outside prods. stuff perhaps is bigger than the stuff from the strictly "Philly labels"...).

    Cheers to all!

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by manny View Post
    Hello, Jim and all!

    Great stuff by you all and great work on your great blog, Jim.

    Sadly I have been without time for nothing during months and... I have seen your post and visited your blog TODAY (!!). What a great pleasure as I'm a spanish Philly Soul lover since my teens.

    (My first vynil adquisition at 14 years - old was "Ship Ahoy" album by The O'Jays, after I was immediately in love with the song "Put Your Hands Together" that everyday was played on the turntable in the restaurant were I started working at the summer when finished the course in High Scool. I comes to the music store, they don't have the compilation "El Sonido de Filadelfia, Vol. 1" that sounded in the restaurant but they have the LP were belongs my favorite song). Since the summer of 1975 on, I never stoped to hear Soul music (and jazz and fusion and other styles) but along the years I have spend thousands of hours hearding my favorite sound and artists: the sublime symphonic soul of Philadelphia and Chicago (from The Chi-lites and Curtis to Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, passing trough Soulful Strings, MFSB, Jerry Butler, Bunny Sigler and Dee Dee Sharp).

    A question that intrigate me is how difficult could be to compiles info about the quantity and diversity of Philly Soul outside productions (if we consider the artists and labels who worked with G & H, Thom Bell, B-H-Y, V. Montana, B. Eli... from Fania All-Stars to Stanley Turrentine, passing trough Eddie Kendricks... from Capitol and Spring Records to Motown... the volume of the "Philly soul outside prods. stuff perhaps is bigger than the stuff from the strictly "Philly labels"...).

    Cheers to all!
    Good observation Manny. Who, What, Where and When!

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by mr_june View Post
    Good observation Manny. Who, What, Where and When!
    Hey, mr_june!... this is a title song by The Tymes

    A great salute!

    https://youtu.be/n8HmAQuboLU

  49. #49
    would love to find The Showstoppers for an upcoming tv show, and The Formations...one of my biggest regrets in life was not having Jimmy and the guys do "A Lady's Man" when we probably could have made it happen.

  50. #50
    I hope you will check out my latest blog entry on The Stylistics' "You're A Big Girl Now". I was blessed to talk to Russell Thompkins, Jr. and clear up some contradicting information that exists about the group's early years and their first hit.

    https://jimbagleyphillymusic.wordpress.com/

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