Thank you, Tom Petty.

To say that Tom Petty had a legendary career is an understatement, but that is how he should be remembered.  I was lucky enough to catch his 40th anniversary (and final) tour earlier this year at a packed St. Louis arena.  It was a solid show with many great tracks throughout it.

Petty’s songs are a part of Americana even if you didn’t grow up in the 1970’s or 1970’s.  He could play everything from garage rock to country blues, and his influence on music reaches around the globe.

Many forget his great contributions to music videos.  Petty was a known lover of music videos, and he and his band came to prominence as MTV skyrocketed in popularity and outreach.  Petty took an active role in the scripts, art, and filming of his music videos and made some of the more innovative ones of the time.

Not many of us get to do what we love for forty years, let alone receive worldwide accolades for it.  It’s okay to mourn Petty, but don’t let it ruin you.  He lived and he rocked.  Do the same.

Keep your mind open.

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Live: Brian Wilson – South Bend, IN – October 03, 2017

My wife and I had missed Brian Wilson at Levitation Austin last year when the entire festival (and thus his performance) was cancelled due to bad weather.  I learned he and his band were touring the world and performing many Beach Boys tracks as well as all of their masterpiece, Pet Sounds.  I was determined to catch this tour and to hear such an important record played by the man who wrote it.  Luckily for me, Mr. Wilson brought his show to a theatre less than an hour’s drive from my house.

He had a killer backing band that included one of the founding Beach Boys – Al Jardine – and another Beach Boys guitarist – Blondie Chapman, and they opened with the the classic “California Girls.”

Other treats included Wilson having a fun time singing “I Get Around,” a lovely rendition of “In My Room,” and Al Jardine’s son doing a great job on the vocals for “Don’t Worry, Baby.”

The highlight of the night, of course, was hearing Pet Sounds played from beginning to end.  I’d been humming “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” all day leading up to the show and the band nailed it right out of the gate to open the second half.  “Sloop John B” was a crowd favorite, and I forgot about the two fine instrumentals on the record.

Wilson got a standing ovation for “God Only Knows,” and “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” seems rather relevant today.  The encore started with “Good Vibrations.”  When Wilson asked, “Did you come here for bad vibrations?”  I briefly hoped the Black Angels would come on stage, but it was fun to hear the best psych-surf ever written live.

Other hits like “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “Surfin’ USA” followed, but Wilson ended the show, which he dedicated to his wife (It was her birthday that day.), the victims of the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting, and Tom Petty, with the heartfelt “Love and Mercy.”

It was a lovely, fun show.  Wilson’s songs are so ingrained into American culture that you can sometimes forget how good and fun they are.  See this tour if you get the chance.  Wilson is getting up there in age, and sometimes needed a steadying hand to walk him to his piano.  He’s claimed this is the final time he’ll perform Pet Sounds, so don’t wait.

Keep your mind open.

The Damned’s Paul Gray rejoins the band in time to record their new album.

BRITISH PUNK ROYALTY THE DAMNED REVEAL
UPCOMING ALBUM DETAILS AND MORE
TONY VISCONTI SET TO PRODUCE NEW DAMNED ALBUM SET FOR RELEASE 2018 
FORMER BASSIST PAUL GRAY REJOINS BAND 
 
Photos: Dod Morrison
As reported in early spring, legendary punk band The Damned signed a new label deal with Search & Destroy and announced plans for their 11th studio album. Now the band is pleased to announce that preparations are underway.
The band’s raw, primal and macabre energy will see its match in the studio this October in Brooklyn, NY with famed Producer Tony Visconti who for over five decades has produced some of the world’s most influential artists and their greatest albums (David Bowie, T.Rex, Morrisey, U2, The Stranglers, Iggy Pop and Thin Lizzy). On Engineer duties is four time Grammy-winning Producer /Engineer/Mixer Kevin Kline, who has also worked with Bowie and has spent the last several decades compiling an impressive list of credentials featuring premiere pop artists Peter Gabriel, Elvis
Costello, Burt Bacharach, Bryan Ferry and Brandon Flowers.
The New York Observer proclaimed, “The Damned are a band of infinite depth and a wide variety of pleasures… high-quality blurs of melodic punk, Beach Boys-ish flowery psych-pop, chiming, bittersweet post-punk, Moody Blues-ish bombastmopherics, spiraling goth and soaring faux soul, all brilliantly executed…”
It’s rather fitting that the band who in 1976 launched an alchemic, heady new British rock sound collaborates with one of the most important and influential producers in the history of rock.  “We want to do the unexpected,” noting that the new album will offer some of the old and a lot of the new. “We’ve never been predictable and well, neither has Tony. There will be a measure of experimentation and we know he’ll do his best to artistically challenge us. He’s been at the top of our producer list since we first started thinking about recording the album, dream come true he’s on board!” The as-yet-unnamed new album will be their first new album for nearly ten years and is the follow up to, ‘So, Who’s Paranoid?’ which came out in 2008.
This news also comes with a change in The Damned’s line up. The Damned  announce the bitter sweet news of the departure of bassist Stu West. “We had a great time with Stu on this long journey. We have infinite respect for him and are forever grateful for his contributions to The Damned. As a result of this mutual understanding, we respect his decision, support him wholeheartedly and wish him the best of luck and success.”
Furthermore, The Damned reveal that once again they will reunite with their former bass player Paul Gray (Eddie and the Hot Rods/Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls, Rob Tyner (MC5)/UFO), who was an essential part of the Damned during the 80s and who played bass on previous Damned albums “The Black Album” and “Strawberries”. Gray will be joining the Damned in the studio this fall.
A dizzying mix of dedication, creativity and stubborn will continues to fuel Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Monty Oxymoron, and Pinch.  While The Damned’s 40 year journey has been challenging, rewarding and shocking at best, they continue to reign as Punk’s original connoisseurs and feel very positive about what lies ahead in the future.  That evidence will be heard on their new album and in venues worldwide as the blitz continues on their Evil Spirits Tour set to rock intimate venues through out the UK this January.
The Damned ‘Evil Spirits’ 2018 UK Tour Dates:
26 January Newcastle O2 Academy
27 January Dundee Caird Hall
28 January Glasgow O2 Academy
30 January Leeds O2 Academy Leeds
31 January Manchester Academy 1
1 February Birmingham O2 Academy
3 February Leicester O2 Academy
4 February Nottingham Rock City
6 February Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
7 February Southend Cliffs Pavilion
9 February Cardiff Great Hall
10 February Bristol O2 Academy Bristol
11 February Bournemouth O2 Academy
13 February Southampton O2 Guildhall
14 February Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion
17 February London O2 Forum
About The Damned:
Formed in 1976, The Damned really need no introduction…  As well as releasing the first ever British punk single and album, they also broke further new ground as the first UK punk act to tour America. The Damned still receive their dues in the US, where they are often cited as a major influence on many future rock acts, including bastions of the nascent US hardcore scene such as Black Flag and Bad Brains plus heavy metal heavyweights such as Green Day, The Offspring and Guns ’N’ Roses. The band recently celebrated four decades together with a deluxe reissues package and a world tour.
About Search and Destroy:
Raw Power Management oversee a roster of internationally successful acts which include: Bring Me The Horizon, At The Drive In, While She Sleeps, Of Mice and Men, Don Broco, Mallory Knox, and others.  The company’s record label Search and Destroy is home to, among others, Bullet For My Valentine & Atreyu.  Search and Destroy is a joint venture with Spinefarm Records / Universal.
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Live: Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan – Elkhart, IN – September 09, 2017

My wife and I caught Buddy Guy at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart, Indiana.  It was our first show at the Lerner, even though we’ve lived a 30-minute drive from Elkhart for over 20 years.  I don’t know how this happened, but we got some good seats (after a ticket mix-up at the box office) and settled in for the opener – 17-year-old blues guitarist wunderkind Quinn Sullivan.

Quinn Sullivan

Sullivan first played on stage with Buddy Guy when he was seven years old.  He shreds like he’s been playing for far longer than seventeen years.  He played a few cuts from his three albums, as well as a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”

Buddy Guy came out to meet a rowdy crowd (many of whom had done plenty of pre-game drinking) and got right down to business by breaking a guitar string on the first note.

Buddy Guy with replacement guitar.

Once a replacement guitar was brought to him, he proceeded to shred through “Damn Right I Got the Blues” and then played around with classics like “Rock Me Baby,” “Fever,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and “Who’s Making Love to Your Old Lady?”

Guy had plenty of fun stories as well, including one lively rant about genetically engineered chickens and tomatoes (“When I was a kid, a tomato was like cotton.  You could make a sandwich out of it.  Now you get a tomato and you could play baseball with it.”) and how you should buy produce that still has bugs on it (“Because it hasn’t been sprayed with stuff you shouldn’t eat.”).

One wild part of the show was when he played a guitar solo using a drum stick and a shirt.

Playing guitar with a shirt and a drumstick. Really.

Trust me, it worked.  It worked quite well, in fact.  He was flailing his guitar with a T-shirt and playing Cream riffs while doing it.  He also walked through the crowd, shredding and singing the whole time.

He brought his son, Greg Guy, and Quinn Sullivan back onstage for the end.  His back-up band was, just like the last time I saw him, killer.  They can play seemingly any tune and stop on a dime.  Greg Guy and Sullivan played along during Buddy’s hit “Feels Like Rain” and then tore through Clapton and Hendrix covers to end the show.

Buddy Guy (right) watches his son, Greg, and Quinn Sullivan carry on the blues tradition.

The show was close to three hours total, and a fun performance that had everyone cheering and hollering.  Buddy Guy is eighty-one years old now, so don’t miss him if he comes close.  He’ll probably tour until he drops dead, but make sure you see him shred.  There aren’t many living legends anymore.

Keep your mind open.

[Don’t forget to subscribe before you go.]

Live: Depeche Mode and Warpaint – Toronto, ON – September 03, 2017

The calm before the storm at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Somehow multiple decades have gone by without me catching electro legends Depeche Mode live.  The dates finally worked out, and my wife and I were able to see them and shoegaze / post-punk newcomers Warpaint at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

Warpaint impressing a lot of us.

Warpaint played a good set of crisp post-punk with snappy bass lines and even snappier drumming (which would be a theme for the entire night).  I’d heard a lot of good things about them, and they didn’t disappoint.  I need to find more of their material.

Looking down the “Barrel of a Gun” with Depeche Mode.

Out came Depeche Mode to the Beatles’ “Revolution,” a major theme for their new album – Spirit.  They rolled into “Going Backwards,” “So Much Love,” and “Barrel of a Gun” (which included a snippet of Grand Master Flash’s “The Message,” which cracked me up).

“World In My Eyes”

The crowd (which filled the stadium, apart from the unsold / unused seats behind the stage, by the way) jumped to its feet when they broke into “World In My Eyes.”  It was a reminder of not only their electro prowess, but how much influence they’ve had on Trent Reznor.  An acoustic version of “Question of Lust,” sung by Martin Gore, was a crowd favorite, and the follow-up of “Home” was excellent.

Depeche Mode never letting us down.

“Where’s the Revolution?” – the first single off Spirit – was another standout and essentially the band’s rallying cry for fans old and new to stand up against The Man. “Everything Counts” is also staggeringly relevant for these times, even though it’s decades old by now.  It preceded “Stripped,” “Enjoy the Silence” (which  was almost entirely sung by the now-bonkers crowd), and “Never Let Me Down Again” – which was better live than I even hoped it would be (and drummer Christian Eigner was absolutely slaying his kit by this point).

“Somebody”

The encore started with “Somebody,” included a nice cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” and finished with big hits “I Feel You” and “Personal Jesus,” which had everyone raising their hands to “reach out and touch faith.”

“Personal Jesus”

It was long overdue, but very welcome.  My wife immediately listened to their new album as soon as we got back from the show.  She woke up the next day with Depeche Mode songs in their head, and I’ve had “Never Let Me Down Again” stuck in my brain for days.

Thanks for the fun, DM and Warpaint.

Keep your mind open.

 

Gary Wilson – Let’s Go to Outer Space

It’s a bit surprising that experimental psych-lounge musician Gary Wilson has taken so long to release an album entitled Let’s Go to Outer Space because I’m fairly certain Mr. Wilson is from Saturn or perhaps somewhere outside this solar system.

The album opens with “Back to Where I Belong” and Wilson boldly proclaiming that he met an alien at a bus stop in Johnson City and they then walked all the way to his hometown of Endicott in the rain.  Theremin rolls all around the track as Wilson tells her she’s the prettiest girl from outer space, meaning he’s met others (which shouldn’t surprise anyone).  She offers to take him back with her, but he stays.

“Gary Kissed a Mannequin” is self-explanatory as Wilson falls in love with a mannequin who looks like the girl next door and takes her out to talk to the trees and dance all night long.  It’s quite possible that his encounter with an alien beauty drove him mad.  “Lost in a Mystery” is a song with a familiar theme on Wilson’s records – loneliness.  The song’s peppy keyboards and jazz lounge beats (and more Theremin!) can’t conceal Wilson’s confusion about why his alien girl left (“I want to cry.  I don’t know just why.  You took my heart and ran away.  I’m gonna save my heartache for another day.”).

“Gary Feels Cool” has the never-ending optimism you also find on Wilson’s records.  He’s never completely out of the dating game, despite his many setbacks.  His keyboard solo emphasizes his confident swagger.  He’s just as cool when he dreams of a lovely lady in “You’re the Girl from a Magazine.”  He can’t name her or the magazine.  He just knows she’s pretty and famous for something.  It’s not a sleazy song either.  Wilson just wants to take this pretty girl for a nice walk.

Wilson admits his story is “insane” in “She’s the Girl from Mars,” but he’s so sincere (and his quirky synths are so fun) that you can’t help but believe him.  “Let’s Go on a Walk Tonight” is another plea from Wilson to his Martian girlfriend to stroll with him through Endicott and beyond.  It’s a toe-tapper that you can’t get out of your head for a while after hearing it.

The song’s beats and even the “la la la” chorus continues in “I’m Not Ashamed of You,” as Wilson’s keyboards sound more like a harpsichord.  Wilson has no fear of walking around with an alien, even as others around him are running away in terror.  He’s finally found love, and everyone should be envying him.

The honeymoon ends, however, when we get to “I Want to Cry.”  Everything had been going so well that Wilson even took his outer space lover to his high school reunion, but yet he still wants to weep.  Is it from joy or misery?  It can’t be from his sweet electric piano solo, that’s for sure.

“Let’s Go to Mars” is simple, yet catchy with Wilson singing another song about marrying his Martian girlfriend in front of his hometown pals and then driving her in his new car out of orbit.  He can’t find love on Earth, so will he find it on another planet?

Probably not, if “My Beautiful Wife Walked Away” is any indication.  Wilson has been dumped yet again.  “I don’t know just what do.  I just wanna be with you,” he sings.  Finding a lasting love is an eternal quest for Wilson, and things beyond his control or understanding always seem to screw it up for him.  On “My Pretty Little Space Girl,” Wilson laments the departure of his alien beauty who never plans to return.  “All things gotta come to an end,” Wilson tells us.  That includes his quest, by the way.  It might not have ended with a woman from another planet, but Wilson will find someone someday.

Keep your mind open.

[Updates sent through outer space to your e-mail inbox when you subscribe!]

Numero Group to release rare Jackie Shane records.

NUMERO GROUP ANNOUNCES JACKIE SHANE REISSUE, ANY OTHER WAY, OUT OCT. 20TH;
2xLP/2xCD + EXTENSIVE LINER NOTES & ARCHIVAL PHOTOS

The first artist-approved collection of Ms. Shane’s work features all six of her 45s and every highlight from the legendary 1967 live sessions at the Sapphire Tavern,
including three previously-unreleased tracks 

LISTEN TO “ANY OTHER WAY”
https://youtu.be/wiDVfi5dVp0

(Any Other Way album art)

Recognized by genre aficionados as one of the greatest singers and most riveting stage presences in soul music, Jackie Shane has remained largely unknown outside of Toronto, where her career briefly flowered in the 1960s. Ms. Shane is a star without parallel — a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable. Any Other Way, out October 20th via the Numero Group, is the first artist-approved collection of Ms. Shane’s work, collecting all six of her 45s and every highlight from the legendary 1967 live sessions at the Sapphire Tavern, including three mind blowing, previously-unreleased tracks.

Ms. Shane’s identity and sexuality were never a secret. She wore makeup, silk shirts and jewelry onstage and off, projecting a sense of refined femininity, and did so in a manner exuding class, self-respect and dignity. Her identity was never an act designed to play with an audience’s sense of exotica.

With her last appearance taking place onstage in Toronto in December of 1971, the city which Ms. Shane considers her second home and where she lived during the peak of her success, this collections marks Ms. Shane’s first communication with the public in nearly half a century. Extensive liner notes tell, for the first time ever, Ms. Shane’s story in her own words, copiously illustrated with never-before-seen pictures from a career and life unlike any other.

Listen To “Any Other Way” — 
https://youtu.be/wiDVfi5dVp0

Watch Any Other Way Teaser Video — 
https://youtu.be/ygsw3RdQ-r4

Any Other Way Tracklist:
01. Sticks And Stones
02. Any Other Way
03. In My Tenement
04. Comin’ Down
05. Money (That’s What I Want)
06. I’ve Really Got The Blues
07. Send Me Some Lovin’
08.  Walking The Dog
09. You Are My Sunshine
10. Stand Up Straight And Tall
11. New Way Of Love
12. Cruel Cruel World
13. Intro [Live]
14. High Heel Sneakers [Live]
15. Barefootin’ [Live]
16. Knock On Wood [Live]
17. Money (That’s What I Want) [Live]
18. Raindrops [Live]
19. You’re The One (That I Need) [Live]
20. Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) [Live]
21. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag [Live]
22. Any Other Way [Live]
23. You Are My Sunshine [Live]
24. I Don’t Want To Cry [Live]
25. Shotgun [Live]

 

Download hi-res images & album art — pitchperfectpr.com/jackie-shane

Pre-order Any Other Way numerogroup.com/products/jackie-shane-any-other-way

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numerogroup.com
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Rewind Review: Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptum (1968)

I’d heard and read that Blue Cheer (Dick Peterson – bass and vocals, Leigh Stephens – guitar, Paul Whaley – drums) were among the loudest bands of all time. Eric Clapton mentioned this in an interview I read once when he was talking about the psychedelic / stoner rock scene in late 1960’s. Other musicians seemed to whisper about Blue Cheer like speaking too loudly of them might unleash a sonic boom at any moment. So, I figured I should buy their debut album Vincebus Eruptum (which is Latin for “blue cheer,” by the way).

The album opens with what is widely considered to be the first heavy metal song ever released – their cover of “Summertime Blues.” It immediately pours on the distortion and drumming that sounds an army of Orcs is playing it. My favorite part of the cover is how they don’t bother singing the parts when the boss or the congressman in the song speak. They just play a quick bass, drum, or guitar solo instead. “Rock Me Baby” is a blues standard, showing that Blue Cheer could groove as well as blow out your eardrums.

“Doctor Please” is the first track on the album written by Peterson, and it’s almost eight minutes of howling vocals backed by wailing guitar, heavy drums, and angry dog-growl bass. “Out of Focus” almost starts that way with its funky, weird bass groove, but soon Whaley’s drum licks bring everything into a (somewhat fuzzy) focus.

“Parchment Farm” has guitar work that you can hear influenced bands like Earthless, Sleep, Kadavar, and Wolfmother. Stephens melted the first faces in 1968, and some people still haven’t recovered. Listening to “Second Time Around” is like hearing the first cries of Baby Stoner Rock. It’s a wild, bluesy, psychedelic trip with a crazy drum solo from Whaley. The band is allegedly named for a type of LSD, after all.

As wild as it is to hear Vincebus Eruptum now, it must’ve been mind-blowing in 1968. No one had done anything like this before, and many are still trying to do it now. From now on when people ask me, “What should I listen to if I want to get into stoner rock?” I’ll tell them to start with this.

Keep your mind open.

[You won’t have the blues if you subscribe.]

The Damned announce UK winter tour dates.

British punk legends the Damned have announced winter tour dates for the United Kingdom.  They put on a great live show, and catching them in their homeland would be outstanding.  Tickets are on sale now for the Evil Spirits tour, so don’t wait to snag some if you’re in the UK or planning a trip there this winter.

Keep your mind open.

Rewind Review: Big Audio Dynamite – Megatop Phoenix (1989)

Big Audio Dynamite (Dan Donovan – keyboards and vocals, Mick Jones – guitar and vocals, Don Letts – effects and vocals, Greg Roberts – drums and vocals, Leo “E-Zee Kill” Williams – bass and vocals) were a big part of my high school years, and their final album, Megatop Phoenix, was a great way to go out on top. I had it on a mix tape for years, so it was high time I bought a proper copy of it. Recorded not long after Mick Jones nearly died of pneumonia (special thanks are given to his doctors and nurses in the album’s liner notes), the album is a reflection on the band’s history and a look to the future.

“Rewind” is a battle cry to all of us to stay strong in the face of adversity and to never count out the underdog. The kick-in of Williams’ bass after the first verse still gives me chills. It’s a great blend of their raga / post-punk / new wave / electro mix that made them so innovative. “Union, Jack” is Jones, Letts, and Williams’ call to British people to get back up on their feet in the Reagan / Thatcher years that were grinding them down into complacency. It opens with a sample of the British national anthem and then kicks in some of the slickest beats by Roberts. Lyrics like “Now in the classroom I was told about the Empire, how you were bold. A pint of beer, life passes by, your spirit’s squashed just like a fly.” continue to resonate today.

“Contact” is a song about Jones’ inner struggle to express himself to perhaps a lovely lady or even his own band mates. This was B.A.D.’s last album, after all. His guitar has nice heaviness to it when it comes in during the chorus. “Dragon Town” has Jones expressing the band’s wonder at being lost in a Chinatown while looking for an exotic woman.

“Baby, Don’t Apologize” is, on its surface, about Jones telling a lover not to be sorry things didn’t work out because he can’t or won’t change. It’s probably a veiled reference to the end of the band, however. Jones had a life-changing experience with his pneumonia, Don Letts was becoming a producer and DJ, and the other band members were also involved in other projects. Jones was worried about how he might be perceived (“My head is in the stock. It rains refuse, some shout abuse, and others throwing rocks.”), but as he puts it, “What I am is loud and clear for all to see, for all to hear.”

“Around the Girl in 80 Ways” is a straight-up love song from Jones and Letts as they teach how to woo the lady of your choice. They suggest everything from “a bunch of flowers” to playing it cool. “James Brown” was written after the Godfather of Soul was involved in a domestic violence case and a police pursuit that landed him in jail. Jones and Letts tell the story from Brown’s perspective, paying tribute to him and calling him out on his bad behavior at the same time. The beats are wicked, as is the verbal takedown of American celebrity culture (which is just as bad in Britain nowadays).

“Everybody Needs a Holiday” sounds better than ever in this world that has only gotten smaller, busier, and less personal since 1989. “House Arrest” is a tale of partying on Saturday night until six in the morning when the cops show up. It’s a floor-bumper with heavy bass and kick ass drum licks. Letts gets to take lead vocals on it as he sings about “bouncers, bimbos, lager louts” and “cops and dogs in transit vans.”

“The Green Lady” is a clever and slightly bittersweet song (with great guitar work by Jones) about a man who falls in love with a Chinese woman in a mass-produced photograph hanging in his flat. “London Bridge” is about the Americanization of London, but Jones professes his love for his town with catchy hooks. “Stalag 123” is about Jones and crew being stuck in the studio working on a record while the building’s basement is flooded and they have to deal with “no windows, no air, and secondhand gear.”

B.A.D. didn’t sound like anything that came before them, and no one has really matched their mix of genres since. They had a successful reunion tour a few years ago, and we can always hope for another. If not, there’s always their excellent catalog and this fine end to it.

Keep your mind open.

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