Lucky Seven – Africa

Related imageI trust you all had a cheery Christmas time and that you’ve been far too busy making snow angels, arguing with relatives or making ill-advised photocopies of intimate body parts to be bothered with reading Blogs. Fear not, you’ve not missed anything here, in fact I myself have been tied up doing at least two of those things (answers on a postcard) to be worrying about Blog posts. But as with every year, once you’ve clambered sheepishly off the office equipment, you realise there’s at least one present you meant to sort out but with which you’ve somehow missed the last post.

Lucky Seven – Africa

Lucky Seven – Africa

Belated presents are alright thought, aren’t they? Just when you think you’ve done with it all and thoughts of January gloom begin to circle above you, another present appears! Get in! Christmas! It’s not over quite yet!

This was supposed to be a companion gift to go with the South American group of songs I did last week. Again, they’re not new (and again, there’s not seven) but they’re all tracks I bought in 2017.

Although crate-digger compilations of African records are as common as ever (I have loads and bought a good few this year again), it’s actually much harder to find anything out about the artists behind the music, than say for the Latin American records I was gibbering about. So pretty much anything that follows now, really has to be taken with a pinch of salt (OK, OK…) Hey ho…

In the Jungle (Instrumental) – the Hygrades

This is a belter from Soundway’s Nigeria Rock Special collection, which pops and clunks its way along, guided by Image result for nigeria rock specialleader-guitarist Goddy Oku’s unselfconscious pyrotechnics. In the late 60’s, he was apparently something of an effects guru in his home town of Enugu in Nigeria, applying all sorts of innovative jiggery-pokery to a variety of boxes and pedals, and seems to have used all of them in this track. Look! I can do fuzztone! Wah-wah? You want wah-wah? (Reminds me of that Electric Prunes Vox wah-wah pedal advert – “It’s the now sound” It’s what’s happening!”.)

As well as being the Hygrades’ guitarist, Oku had his own recording studios where William Onyeabor sometimes recorded. The Soundwaves collection also includes a vocal version of the song, but you don’t want singing getting in the way do you?

Maliba – Kaloum Star

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Another wild, wild track, taken from a collection called Discotèque 74 issued by Syliphone and picked up from eMusic on a whim. A fidgety, wriggly thing of splendour, it’s again powered by those new-fangled electric guitars and a hopelessly immodest brass section that prances about front of stage showing itself off to great effect. According to this Blog, Kaloum Star were a Guinean band led by saxophonist Mamadou Barry who is apparently still recording. WorldService has also made a few further recordings available. Get over there!


Dzo Le Gbo Nye – Adamah & Agbote

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And a third, rhythm-driven bugger… Fuzz guitar pushed into a mesmerising background, this track is even more percussion driven than the previous two and is framed by the brassiest of brass sections. I can find nothing out about Adamah & Agbote, other than that this was originally a 1980 release – I can’t even say which of the two is the lady providing the charmingly quivery backing vocals. I’ve fetched it off the lovely Togo Soul 70 collection released last year by Hot Casa Records (who are less than exhaustive in their background info).


Hi Babe – Ngozi Family

Image result for day of judgement ngoziThe Ngozi Family are much less obscure, and bandleader Paul Ngozi has a clutch of records to his name according to Wikipedia (yes, he has a wiki entry), although the list they give includes the record this track came from (Day of Judgement) but doesn’t include the record the Family recorded with Chrissy Zebby Tembo that I bought last year. Hewn from the same “I’ve got a pedal and I’m not afraid to use it” block as Goddy Oku, Ngozi was another one who liked an effect or two and wasn’t averse to the odd solo. On “Hi Babe”, the guitar is distorted beyond repair and I’m guessing the poor thing was glad to switch to wah-wah for the solo at least. The lyrics are in English and are disarmingly lascivious – “when I wake up in the morning, I get some places, I meet some girls, I gotta say, “hi Baby!”


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When the Sun Breaks Through – Karl Hector & the Malcouns

I’m slightly embarrassed to say that this colourful, jazzy track from Karl Hector and his bucking Malcouns is the only record in this bunch that was released this century (finger on the pulse, and all that…). No fuzztone guitars, no lyrics, no solos, just a minute and a half of shapeless, cubist African rhythms, formed in a desert (on the moon) and dedicated (I’m guessing) to John Coltrane. The whole album, Sahara Swing, is like that – nineteen tracks, none of them over the five minute mark and plenty, plenty shorter. Lovely exotic, quixotic stuff.

Africa Africa – Ekambi Brillant

Image result for ekambi brillant africa africaFilched this track from the best Blog I know, the wonderful Aquarium Drunkard (“Come for the drums, stay for the humid washes of Cameroonian fuzz”). Looked this up on eMusic and they have a number of records by Ekambi Brillant, including two “Best of” volumes, neither of which feature this track. None of the samples are anything like a match for this powerful, fuzz-drone, over which Brillant exhorts I know not what (but I believe him).

Awash 1973 – Ali Mohammed Birra

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It wouldn’t be right if I did a post about African music and didn’t blither on about the Ethiopiques series at least once. This is from Volume 28 (I know, please don’t stop…), dedicated to Oromo singer, Ali Mohammed Birra who is something of a hero amongst the Oromo people of Ethiopia. This is not the wild, James Brown-esque soul of Swinging Addis fame, but is still backed by and built upon a disciplined brass section which allows Birra’s elegant vocals to weave in and out of an eerie organ piece. “Awash” is one of his best known songs – there are two other versions of the song on this collection – and Birra is still recording today aged 70.


N’nijo (feat. Ensemble Black & White) – Amara Toure

Image result for amara toureI wrote about Amara Toure in June of this year. Nothing to add to it, really, except that it still sounds great (particularly those slightly assonant pair of saxes…)



Avante Juventude – Os Angos

Analog Africa is another great little label, easily as good as Ethiopiques and Soundways, andImage result for angola 2 I’ve bought more than one of their bewitching compilations. This track comes from the lip-smackingly titled “Angola 2 – Hypnosis, Distortions and other Sonic Innovations 1969-1978”, and features beautifully understated guitar work from another band of mysterious heroes. Backed by drums and traditional percussion (it actually sounds a lot like that scratchy cheese grater sound you hear in cumbia and merengue tracks – the guiro), the guitar meanders along with deceptive pace and little sign of a destination. But that’s OK, we’re just travelling right?


Tap it, unwrap it.

Siete de la Suerte!

Every Christmas, I approach this end-of-the-year review business with something of a heavy heart – I warm to it as I get into it, but generally I can’t be arsed with it. Nonetheless, I’m aware of my responsibilities to an attentive audience and was just starting to compile a “Seven Great Gigs of 2017” list when I realised that somewhat embarrassingly 2017 has been more than a little thin on the live music front – suffice to say it was going to be a bit a scrape, barely worth the effort.

So I thought, I’ll start a Best of the Year list (again, pretty much obligatory in the trade) but then I thought “Why?”. Not in a Kenneth Williams, “what’s the bloody point?” sort of a way, more a why not give the hungry reader a Christmas present they actually want?

Like some wonky South American tunes, for example…

Lucky Seven – Siete de la Suerte

Actually, there’s eight, they’re not all South American and (of course) they’re not all new but, hey, it’s a hook. These are all bands and records I’ve enjoyed this year and meant to write about, but, well you know how it goes…

Siete de la Suerte

No Somos Malos – Los Dug Dug’s (from Smog)

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Los Dug Dug’s (the grocer’s apostrophe is a thing apparently) are a Mexican band and are still making records. This is a cracker straight from the seventies, though, all driving fuzz tone and demented psychedelic flute. It opens their second record, Smog released in 1972 and their “masterpiece” according to one punter. It’s pretty much the template for most of the rest of it – although I’ll spare you the 12-minute closer, Hagámoslo Ahora. Let’s do it!

Acto I – Lula Pena (from Troubadour)

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The other track which isn’t actually South American, this track is also the opener from the second record, but these are pretty much the only links you could possibly make between them. This is your proper, deep Portuguese fado, a genre I’d found pretty much impenetrable until I came across Ms Pena’s breathy, mysterious intensity. Worth soldiering on blindly through ten dark minutes if only for the extraordinary period of rhythmic panting she embarks on towards the end…

Run Montang Run – Flaming Salt (from Brazilian Nuggets, Vol I)

If I was organising things properly this one probably belongs after the Dug Dug track, seeing as how it’s another crazy, arms flailing garage track. I bought a whole collection of stuff I’d never heard in a compilation, thinking it was from the sixties but actually it’s nineties stuff, which is OK, I think. I know nothing about Flaming Salt except they are signed to Sao Paulo label Menino Muquita and that you can download a whole album from them for free from their Bandcamp page (I discovered this about two minutes ago)…

Nunca Olvidarme Mi Acento – Dat Garcia (from Maleducada)

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The Dat Garcia album was a bit of a dark horse with me, again having heard nothing of or about her before. But it’s pretty good album from Argentinian singer/rapper and aural kleptomaniac who has a particular affection for indigenous sounds and rhythms. I’m still a sucker for the sound of sung or spoken Spanish, and during July this was a record I spent a lot of time on. A bit spooky, a bit glitchy, hooked I was.

Atahualpa – Nación Ekeko (from La Danza)

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Another record from Argentina, another singer with sticky fingers and an ear for itchy Latin rhythms. Nación Ekeko are actually the side project of Diego Pérez, who is part of an experimental electronica duo called To

nolec another bunch of furiously acquisitive Guarani fiends. It’s a cracking track driven along insistently by a mixture of electronic beats and hand percussion, and guided round the corners by intricate guitars and strings. Lovely stuff.

Cumbia Volcadora – Orkesta Mendoza (from Vamos a Guarachar!)

I’m sure I reaImage result for orkesta mendozad something once about Cumbia Refrita – cumbia that’s been slowed down, rehashed, re-fried as it were – but I can’t for the life of me find anything about it now. If it’s nothing more than a figment of my fragile imagination, well, it damn well should be a thing…

Sergio Mendoza is a compadre of Calexico and similarly lives in the US but has deep Mexican routes. This is an engaging track, all the traditional elements of Cumbia slowed down and remixed, including the vocals, at times almost like a record at slightly the wrong speed, but like the beans, on the next morning a whole different thing entirely…

Que Me Duele? – Quantic, Nidia Góngora (from Curao)

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Quantic is one of those wizard DJ/crate-diggers who puts together records as well, mostly pretty dance-y stuff, but often with enough other stuff to interest the older, more arthritic listeners too. Nidia Góngora is a Columbian singer who has her own band but whose collaboration with Quantic came out this year and is a hugely entertaining listen with all its African roots clearly on show. Again, all sorts of prickly clever stuff going on behind the prevailing rhythms.

Flores deImage result for soema montenegrol desierto – Soema Montenegro (from Passionaria)

I did actually get around to writing about Soema Montenegro in May and I have little to add to those wise words, other than to say she still sounds as offbeat as she did then and that her third record is now available from her Bandcamp page. Not someone you’d want to be sat next on a long journey…

Felices Navidades!

Furia en la Corazón!

los_aos_ye-ye-cuando_espaa_hizo_popMay I interest you folk in a little Sixties Ye-Yé, straight outta Franco’s Spain?

Just came back from a bit of a city-break type thing in Liverpool and a jolly good time was had by all. Sights were seen, tapas was eaten and alcohol was drunk. Oh yeah, and one or two CDs were purchased…

Paid my second ever visit to the near-legendary Probe Records, too, now in School Lane, but still going strong (my first visit was in 1982, when I almost literally bumped into Pete Burns, thumbing through the singles racks. Spent rest of the day expecting to find myself sat next to Julian Cope on the bus…). I spent a happy hour or so going through their shelves, and left with a substantially lighter wallet but a bag full of esoteric goodies. I’ll no doubt start banging on about most of the stuff at a later date (there was a Robert Wyatt record amongst them and you know I’m not going to be able to resist writing about that…) but in the meantime…


The record I was most deliriously excited about and I’ve played almost continually since getting home is this, though, the second volume of Vampisoul’s sparkling “¡Chicas!” compilation. The first volume was good enough, with many, many memorable moments such as Vainila Doble’s weirdly psychedelic “La Maquina Infernal”, Sonya’s ballsy “Aqui en mi nube” and this by the delightfully bonkers Pili y Mili – “Un Chico Moderno”:


Played the record to death when we came back from Madrid the year before last, but to be honest, if anything, this second volume is even better than the first. It’s full to bursting with daft but unwaveringly groovy numbers from beginning to end, all of which seem to have eluded Franco’s eagle-eared sensors. Watch this, for instance, by French singer Claudine Coppin “40 grados a la sombre”. The sound’s not great – there’s a better sounding version on YouTube but it doesn’t have this top footage from the film of the same name:


So anyway, I was thinking it must be about time I put together a Ye-Yé Lucky Seven post and, well, here it is, you lucky, lucky people…

Lucky Seven – ¡Chicas!

Pochoclo – Las Trillizas de Oro (disturbingly bonkers version of “Popcorn” complete with the frothiest of lyrics. What’s not to like?)

Come, C’mon – The Satin Bells (a group of Liverpool lasses – so that’s appropriate – who moved to Spain and released a clutch of ill-fated singles. I’m slightly disappointed that it’s in English but nonetheless it’s a rather steamy little number…)

Tabú Tabú – Sola (another burner, with soulful Mexican vocals and a feckless, wandering bassline that won’t be told…)

No Te Acuerdas de mí – Marisa Medina (really ballsy song, belted out by the redoubtable Sra Medina, complete with full band, flutes and a jaunty little touch of Eddy-esque twang)

Soy una Nube – Elia y Elizabeth (my favourite track from another superb Vampisoul collection of this pair of sisters’ greatest hits. Lovely driving bass and guitar combination, superbly led by hippy child vocals. Really great stuff)

Hey, Hey Bunny – Los Gatos Negros (Not actually a “chica” as such, but a groovy mid-sixties number, driven on by a brass section and electric organ combination that is pretty damn irresistible. Could surely have been a Northern Soul classic…)

Furia – Furia (Finally, something a little later, early seventies I’m guessing. A heavyish, somewhat proggy hummer, driven but always danceable.)

Fix me up with your sweet dose…

ImageI uploaded this special Freakbeat Lucky Seven a good fortnight ago and can’t believe I didn’t post it at the time…

Not been listening to a lot of new music recently, but instead have spent a lot of time wallowing in the sugary mire of British psychedelia and mid-sixties freakbeat. And in the spirit of the time, I thought I’d share a little something with you…

Take Her Anytime – The Longboatmen (fantastic crashing feedback guitars that gradually take over …)

You’re Too Much – The Eyes (spoke about these lads in the last post – beats me how they’re not more well-known, again, a cracking, dangerous guitar riff dominates)

Strange Walking Man – Mandrake Paddle Steamer (another track I’m amazed I didn’t know earlier, cleverly put together, sounding a lot like Revolver-era Beatles)

Mud In Your Eye – Les Fleur De Lys (another biff-bang-pow of a record, Pretty Things/Who guitar riff, could’ve chosen five or six by this lot)

Vacuum Cleaner – Tintern Abbey (actually knew this record from the eighties Chocolate Soup For Diabetics collection, a re-discovered favourite…)

I Must Be Mad – Craig (more driving, urgent guitar riffs, common theme developing, priceless)

Hold On – Rupert’s People (wrote about these last time too, and I think I read somewhere that they were some sort of Fleur De Lys offshoot, here they’re doing the same song as FDL were talking in the YouTube clip.)

Fix yourself up…

Lucky Seven – The Joy of Sets

dexys2OK, regular Christmas readers of this organ will remember that it often takes me a while to get into this end of year malarkey, but once I’ve warmed up…

So, anyway, I’m venturing forth and starting with some great gigs I’ve been to this year. I’m always a bit sheepish about recounting my gig tally for the year – usually I can do this on the fingers of both hands, although this year I’ve had to take off my shoes and socks too. (I have buddies who talk about getting close to three figures, think about it…)

That being as it may… here we go, chronologically:.


February: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins @ The Fleece, Bristol

My first visit to the Fleece, if I remember rightly, and really enjoyable evening it was too. Hot, pubby, beset with sound problems yet still gentle and intimate. Spent a lot of time following Creosote and his warm, delicate songs, but Hopkins impressed too, sympathetically colouring in around the King’s bold lines. Really nice support spot from Withered Hand too.

Only Living Boy in New York


April: Trembling Bells with Bonnie Prince Billy @ Frog & Fiddle, Cheltenham

Possibly my highlight of the year. Oldham was as unconventional as you’d expect, by turns daunting, witty and self-effacing, employing a new and impressive set of quirky gestures and never less than whole-hearted in the delivery of a terrific bag of songs. Trembling Bells were also powerful and more than a little scary, and a storming set was delivered with what can only be described as Gusto.

Every Time I Close my Eyes (We’re back there)


June: Anaïs Mitchell & the Young Man Band @ St Bonaventura’s, Bristol

Another massive treat in the warm, DIY surroundings of one of my favourite venues. Performed most of the wonderful Young Man in America record, and a good selection from her earlier stuff, all with affection and intelligence, and was supported expertly by one of the most talented bunch of musicians I’ve seen for ages. And she signed a copy of Hadestown for me.

Saw her later in the year solo in Oxford, which was also brilliant but didn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of this gig.



June: Andrew Bird @ Trinity Centre, Bristol

Another debut venue, and another beautiful evening in Bristol; and if we’re talking expert musicians you’ve got to tip your hat towards Andrew Bird. I’ve never seen a man play the fiddle like this guy, bowing beautifully, then strumming it like a yuke, then back to the bow all within a verse sometimes. Played a good long, occasionally theatrical set and finished it up with an Ol’ Timey clutch of toons. Didn’t know whether to stroke my beard or grin like a loon…

Desperation Breeds


July: Wooden Shjips @ The Fleece, Bristol

This was the steamy, roller coaster of an evening you kinda hope for when Ripley Johnson and his awkward crew lumber on stage. You know what you’re going to get with the Shjips, meandering, uncomplicated and repetitive yet somehow fascinating and complex at the same time. The Elevators of the 21st Century… Another evening where the support band, three young lads from Weston called Towns, added to the fun.



August: Dexy’s @ Green Man

So to the festival season.

Despite the rain, there were some fine moments at Green Man as usual –some of them young (TOY, Savages, Field Music), some of them old (Van) and lots of them Welsh (Cate le Bon, H Hawkline, Sen Segur, Pen Pastwn). But the most enjoyable set of the weekend came from the wild-eyed bugger himself. Only managing to get through 5 or 6 numbers in his hour (so gloriously teased-out was each one), Rowlands, and a band that included long-suffering confidante Pete Williams; Mick Talbot and spurned chantoose Madeleine Hyland mugged their way through a hugely pleasing set. Highlights included This Is What She is Like, Lost and a gigantic version of Come On Eileen. Wow!



August: Woods @ End of the Road

There were some even better sets at my End of the Road debut this year too. Honourable mentions should go to Yeti Lane, Gravenhurst, First Aid Kit, TOY (again) and a bedraggled Midlake, but my favourite section of the weekend was Saturday afternoon’s belter from Woods. Their records often major on the slightly fey, slightly geeky tones of Jeremy Earl’s vocals and Woods’ bubblegum sound. On stage. however, the shackles were off and some great garage-y, psychedelic meandering went on. We also heard a lot of stuff which was new then, but which appeared on Autumn’s Bend Beyond.  Happy daze.

Cali in a Cup

End of the Road ’12 – Best Sets of the Weekend

So that was End of the Road. Lordy!

I had a ball, really, a much brighter experience than Green Man this year. To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather (GM = foul; EotR = mostly fine), but for me End of the Road far outshone Green Man in pretty much every respect. I was very impressed with EotR – they just seemed to do everything right.

Hmmm… next year…

Lucky Seven – Best of End of the Road ‘12

I’ve not been entirely idle since then. As usual I have a mountain of recordings, some of which I’ll post about soon, some of which I may never use. But while I’m sorting myself out, I thought I’d put together a Best of… compilation of some of the recordings I have. It’s hardly exhaustive – I saw some great sets and by all accounts missed some great sets too. Also some of the great sets were not unfortunately great recordings (combination of wind on the mic / being surrounded by gibbering ninnies / being a gibbering ninny myself…)

Anyway here goes:

Midlake – “Roscoe”

A combination of a long day and the first rain of the weekend meant I was hanging on a bit when Midlake made their way onto the Garden Stage. Pretty much straight away however, I was woken up by a really accomplished performance, mixing material from The Courage of Others and The Trials of Van Occupanther with a few new songs. Lovely set which the band themselves seemed to really enjoy. All very good mannered too…

 Alt-J – “Tessellate”

Nearly missed this set altogether, drinking and chatting with friends, and when we rolled up at the Big Top, we were met with the biggest crowd I saw in there all weekend. Once we’d elbowed our way in (and I’d lost all the people in was with), Alt-J put on a really tight performance, going through most of their record, in what felt like an absolute sauna. Indeed at times it felt like listening to the recording itself so polished was their performance (I don’t mean that in a bad way…)

Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard – “Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song”

Didn’t really know anything about Jeffrey Lewis and actually missed his scheduled Garden Stage spot earlier on the Friday. Fortunately, he did a few songs later on that evening in the Tipi Tent. What a character he is! His songs were alternately garage-y, throw-away, poignant and always funny. Another highlight was his PowerPoint presentation on the history of Punk Rock on the Lower East Side 1950-75, all written in limerick form, which really needs YouTubing…

First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”

Another set that was packed out, and which I also nearly missed part of was this one by First Aid Kit. I really didn’t realise they were so popular, but with hindsight there was a bit of a buzz about them for most of the previous day. Just the three of them but they made an enormous noise and went down very well.

I Was Gone – Woods

The reason I was late for First Aid Kit was that I simply couldn’t tear myself away from Woods on the Main Stage, who were a bit geeky at first but really started to cut loose about half way through and by the end were really “wigging out” (I think the term is…). Once I’d got used to Jeremy Earl’s high pitched vocals, it was all good from there…

Analogue Wheel – Yeti Lane

About half way through the weekend I started to feel that I was spending too much time seeing bands I knew, (and in some cases had seen before), and not enough time investigating new bands. So for that reason, I ditched Patti Smith and went to see French psychedelic duo Yeti Lane. Best decision of the weekend, didn’t regret it for a second. The duo consisted of a drummer with electronic noodling duties and another “wigging out” guitarist. Particularly liked their retro, Doctor Who-style electronics desk…

Ghost of St Paul – Gravenhurst

Last set of the weekend was Gravenhurst, who again I didn’t know at all, but was realty impressed by. A really quiet, precise set that finished rather too quickly and prompted me to buy the last two releases.

A lovely weekend altogether…

Best of End of the Road ‘12

Lucky Seven 16 – Lloyd Brevett

(Hope this doesn’t seem a little opportunistic…)

Lloyd Brevett

Lloyd Brevett, legendary bassist of the legendary Skatalites, has died this weekend of a stroke, a fortnight after the murder of his son inJamaica. A tragic end to the life and career of one of the great figures of Jamaican music.

I’m not going to pretend I’m any sort of authority on Ska and Rocksteady, but there’s no mistaking the distinctive, playful tones of his “walking” string bass playing on all of the classic Skatalites songs and (such was their dominance of the Jamaican studios), most of the early ska classics of the era.

There are some decent obituaries, here, here (I like the quote from Bunny Wailer) and here; and an interesting interview with the man himself here.

I’d been meaning to resurrect my Lucky Seven thing for a while now; it’s a shame that it took the passing of the man to get me going. I’ve put together seven classy Brevett contributions for a special RIP Lucky Seven.

Lucky Seven 16 – Lloyd Brevett

Rock Steady –AltonEllis

Rudy, A Message to You – Dandy Livingstone

Dr Decker – the Skatalites

Corner Store – the Skatalites

Inez – LesterSterling/Tommy McCook

Lester’s Mood – the Skatalites

African Roots Dub – the Skatalites


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