AnotherCountrysong.com - Reviews

 

Summertime - Pete Smith, Country Music Roundup, March 2003

Terry Friend’s ‘Summertime’ baffled me somewhat for the album has a single performer’s name and this would lead one to believe that this was a solo offering, yet there are three singers other than Friend and he is not credited with playing any instrument. Terry, a noted folk composer, did in fact write ten of the 13 songs. Having cleared that one up we can now enjoy an album of music called today ‘Americana.’ Terry blends country with folk, a touch of the blues with occasional punk audacity to present an interesting and entertaining programme that sits comfortably alongside anything in the current Texas scene. The songs have male leads, female leads, duets, and on ‘Memory Lane,’ an intriguing male narrative accompanying a female voice. Terry’s vocals are assisted by Ryan Sharp (who wrote three songs.) Cheryl Murphey and Rebecka Larter. Contact. 01462 674854.

The Alamo - Pete Smith, Country Music Roundup, June 2004

Terry Friend ‘The Alamo’ (New Morning Recordings.) At long last Terry Friend’s labour of love has come to fruition. Terry worked on this epic for years desperate to find the right lyrics, lyrics that would be interesting and truthful yet have a commercial appeal. You will not hear this on radio because track one, 'The Alamo' runs for over twelve and a half minutes and track two, ‘The Alamo Narrative’ runs for a further four plus minutes. There are two vocalists. Terry (narratives) and the beautiful Cheryl Murphy (singing) and the long song is actually several songs played at various tempos and blended into one. Jason Ward handles the guitars, John Saltwell, the bass and piano, Martin Langshaw, the drums and Ryan Sharp, the harmonica. History brought to life on one little disc. History’s most courageous episode made accessible for all. www.alamosong.com.

Strange Journey - Pete Smith, Country Music Roundup, July 2004

Terry Friend ‘Strange Journey’ (New Morning Recordings.) This is a most interesting album that charts the career of singer/songwriter Terry Friend over a period of thirty years. The former professional soldier teamed up with Rob Van Spyk and Brian Balster in 1974 to form the folk outfit Stonefield Tramp. Rob emigrated to America in 1977 so Terry and his mate Colin Johnson formed New Morning. Working in bands and as a solo, writing songs and promoting good causes has brought the Friend career up to date. His epic single ‘The Alamo’ (see CMRU June) was inspired by a visit to that historical location in 2001 and ‘Eternity,’ the last of 21 tracks on this album was recorded then, in San Antonio. One can definitely detect a shift in style as this programme progresses. The early songs are urban folk. ‘When’s it Gonna Stop’ has echoes of Country Joe and the Fish and ‘Social State Blues’ is pure Woody Guthrie. The later songs take on a more commercial feel such as with ‘Catch the Wind’ (not the Donovan hit,) ‘True Love ways’ (not the Buddy Holly number) and ‘You.’ A little of Terry’s military background is evident, though not explicit in ‘Land Fit For Heroes.’ www.anothercountrysong.com.

The Ulster Songbook - Pete Smith, Country Music Roundup, January 2006

The troubles in Northern Ireland look all but over. As we enter the year 2006 we have the brightest hope in a century that life in Ulster will at last be normal very soon. The troubles have been analysed and explained by all sorts of people and groups; the innocents caught up in the violence, the clergy, politicians, the loyalists and the republicans, in fact just about everybody but the men and women caught up in the middle-the Army. ‘The Ulster Songbook’ (New Morning Recordings) has 14 songs written and performed by Terry Friend, a former professional soldier who experienced the violence that was Ulster and who was affected by it. In his songs Terry expresses the concerns he had for his colleagues, for the innocents in the street and for the province itself. This is not a macho stand for the Army but the deepest feelings of a caring soldier expressed in song. Sales of this album will benefit The Northern Ireland Veterans Association. www.anothercountrysong.com

The Ulster Songbook - Soldier Magazine December 2005.

A gifted-ex soldier turned country-and-western singer has been hitting the right notes for charity with the release of an album for The Northern Ireland Veterans’ Association. Terry Friend recalls the years of service and sacrifice in the province in ‘The Ulster Songbook’ a collection of 14 tunes telling an often harrowing tale of conflict.
Friend told soldier that he had decided to tell the Army’s story in Northern Ireland through the record. Adding that he had included many of his own personal reflections
He said. ‘I was one of the lucky soldiers who survived their tour of duty in Ulster. Many did not return at all and many returned damaged physically or emotionally.’
‘They need our help-‘The Ulster Songbook’ is my charity album and a large percentage of the money raised from the sales will go to NIVETS, so please give generously.’
‘The Ulster Songbook’ has been receiving positive reviews from the country music press and is available through Friend’s website at www.anothercountrysong.com Further information on NIVETS is available at www.nivets.co.uk

Pete Smith - Country Music Round-up May 2006

Terry Friend 'Natural Noise' (New Morning)
In a way this could be sub-titled 'Best of Friend' for it is if one takes a country perspective. This is the most country album Terry has recorded to date but in my humble opinion 'The Ulster Songbook' will remain his finest hour and I am totally convinced that in the future it will become a folklore classic. However, 'Natural Noise', as I have already stated, is country and is original. You will not find any references to the American tradition only life's observations in a world-wide or UK setting. 'Someone', the opening track is a real feel good number dealing with a positive relationship, 'In a Wind Swept Cemetery', is a beautiful, though gloomy, tale that most of us will have experienced at some time or another, and 'Poacher's Pie', typically British by virtue of its title, is a vocal and fiddle delight. The fourteen songs, twelve of them written by Terry, have strong lyrics and equally strong melodies, the latter credited to musicians Maurice Hipkiss (steel, Dobro, electric fiddle). Phil Beer from Show of Hands (fiddle) and Rob Van Spyk (acoustic guitar) and Brian Balster (guitars, backing vocals) of Stonefield Tramp. Check out also; 'Wild Blows The Wind', 'Damascus', 'Minstrel Boy' and the first seasonal offering of 2006 'Tis Christmas Time Again' (strangely not out of place in May!). www.anothercountrysong.com



Natural Noise            www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk            June 2006.

Terry’s most recent album, Natural Noise, was released earlier this year and is described as ‘contemporary folk with country leanings’. He is joined here by old friends Rob Van Spyk and Brian Balster, who of course were his partners in Stonefield Tramp. There is also a guest appearance here from Phil Beer, the must have session fiddle player and front man for Show of Hands.

Three songs have been selected by Terry to give you a flavour of this album. The first of these is the opening track, ‘Someone’, a fine love song with excellent pedal steel guitar by Maurice Hipkiss and effective sweet backing vocals from Sarah Warren.

‘Moonshiner’ is an interesting contemporary arrangement of a traditional American song. The rise and fall vocals bring prime 1960’s Bob Dylan to mind and the song benefits from understated but effective keyboards and faultless fiddle playing. The third selection is ‘The Sun Shines Over Bredon’, a beautifully observed song that uses the ‘quicksilver’ organ sound in the instrumental break, to again bring classic Zimmerman to mind. This country rock and folk fusion has much to offer, and although I’m aware that many folk music fans have something of an aversion to music styles from across the Atlantic, I’d suggest you give ‘Natural Noise’ a try. Terry’s expressive vocal style gives the album a unique edge and the lyrics and melodies are all well crafted.

The Ulster Songbook        www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk         June 2006.

In 2005 Terry released the Ulster Songbook, a 14 track collection of songs produced for the benefit of the Northern Ireland Veterans Association. Having served in Ulster during the early 1970’s these songs are frequently born out of personal experience and he has this to say of his time there and the organisation that he is supporting. ‘I was one of the lucky soldiers who survived their tour of duty in Ulster. Many did not return at all and many returned damaged physically and emotionally. They need our help. The Ulster Songbook is my charity album and a large percentage of the money raised from the sales will go to NIVETS, so please give generously.’

Most of the songs here are self penned, but four of them are co-written with long time friend and Stonefield Tramp colleague Rob Van Spyk. In style most fall within the contemporary folk style, but there are also country rock edges to some numbers and even the odd excursion into hard, growling rock music. This description certainly fits the first track you can sample below. ’25 Years’ has a bitter and snarling lead vocal, snaking electric guitar and a solid drum/bass back line. Take a minute to listen to the lyrics of this song. This comes straight from the gut.

‘Tell it to the People’ was written back in 1974 and is a great plea for peace, whose message still rings true. 30 years ago the hope of peace and normal life returning to Northern Ireland seemed nigh on impossible, but in the 21’st century it would now appear to have been achieved. You don’t have to look far though to find similar conflicts so this universal message of hope is still most valid. The finale selection, ‘Lady Death’ fuses country fiddle music with a punk attitude and the nearest comparison I could make is suggesting that this is the sound the Pogues might have made if they had been brought up in Nashville.

Strange Journey 1970 to 2004        www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk         June 2006.

Those record collectors amongst you will no doubt know the name Terry Friend. For over 30 years he has been releasing albums under his own name, in collaboration with others, or as part of renowned British band, Stonefield Tramp. Terry has just agreed to make a selection of his music available for download and we feel privileged that he has chosen Woven Wheat Whispers to distribute these. The first album on offer is Strange Journey – Volume 1 and is an anthology of songs recorded between 1970 and 2004. The first three tracks here were recorded by Terry and long term creative partner Rob Van Spyk in 1970, just after leaving the army. These tracks were part of an album (Going Nowhere) made solely for promotional purposes and never commercially released, so through Strange Journey they got their first wider general release. The tracks are simply recorded with Terry’s lyrics and Rob’s vocals being added to folk style acoustic guitar. The self penned numbers range from angry protests at state racism in the USA, through pleas for peace and onto gentle and fragile music that was so in tune with the spirit of the age.

By 1974, Terry and Rob had met Brian Balster and as a trio they released the album ‘Follow the Sun’ for the studio label, Acorn. This was swiftly followed by ‘Dreaming Again’, an album issued on their own Tramp label. For this album the trio were enhanced by additional musicians Chris Sutoris (Bass) and Dave Lloyd (Electric Guitar). To reflect their new sound the band adopted a new name and Stonefield Tramp were born. Strange Journey contains five tracks from this period. Some of the tracks from this era show a strong Bob Dylan influence while others lean stronger towards the style we have now come to know as acid folk.

Through 1975/1976, Stonefield Tramp gigged regularly, playing clubs and festivals around the country. A drummer was added to the group and Terry taught himself guitar, but with the band moving more in a rock direction, Terry decided to leave. This was shortly followed with Rob emigrating to the USA and after three short but enjoyable years, Stonefield Tramp were no more. In 1977 Terry released ‘Come the Day’ by Terry Friend and Friends, his first solo LP, on the private Tramp label. Of the two tracks from the period that are on this release, the first (Sweet Talking Lady) has something of a country rock edge, while the second (Song to Brian) is reminiscent of some of the harder edged Dylan compositions of the era. Shortly after, Terry put together a band called New Morning and in 1981 met Dave Simpson with whom he recorded a handful of songs. When New Morning ground to a halt in 1983, Terry and Dave recorded an albums worth of material entitled ‘Lazy River’ in cassette only format. These were well received and quickly sold out, so the pairing released ‘Follow the Dots’ in 1985. Strange Journey contains five tracks from each of these albums and the material was some of the warmest and most dynamic Terry had recorded up to that point. Alongside Folkier numbers there were those that stemmed from rock roots and listeners will also detect shades of punk sensibilities and shades of power-pop.

In 2004 Terry paid a visit to Rob, who is still in the USA. A little recording session obviously ensued and one track, ‘Eternity’ is offered here bringing the album full circle. So there you have it. 21 tracks from one of Britain’s most versatile songwriters. The parent albums for all these tracks are available direct from Terry through his excellent and informative website listed below.


Natural Noise - Doug Parish, DJ for Isca Radio and Culmvally FM July 2006.


I have just recently received the latest album from singer/songwriter Terry Friend, 'Natural Noise', which was recorded at the FFG Recording Studio, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. In a phone in interview Terry told me. 'This album is a return to my contemporary folk writing roots, which I seem to have forsaken lately, as my recent recordings have leaned slightly more towards a country type of music style.' 'I was also highly honoured to have a guest appearance by non other than Phil Beer from Show of Hands, who joined me on two of the tracks on this album.' 'Likewise, it was a real pleasure to be joined by my two old friends from my 'Stonefield Tramp' days, Rob Van Spyk and Brian Balster'.

I have been playing tracks from this album on my Isca Radio Country Scene programme and in my view, this is the best country album Terry has recorded with very strong melodies and very strong moving lyrics. I did enjoy 'Poachers Pie' with some fine fiddle playing from Show of Hands Phil Beer. This is a good country album with some folk roots coming to the fore on some of the fourteen songs, twelve of which were written by Terry. My pick of the album is the opening track 'Someone', sang well with a nice country feel to it and some good pedal steel picking from Maurice Hipkiss. For more information go to

 

Phil Adams U.S.A. From the forum of www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk November 2006

The Ulster Songbook is a fairly somber and serious disc, but is one of the most genuine records I've ever heard; Natural Noise, and Summertime are also excellent folk/country-influenced adult singer-songwriter without the mush. The Ulster Songbook sounds very topical to me, since it portrays a soldier's view of warfare and its consequences-it could be anywhere in the world today. These records really grow on you after several listens, and I don't know of much other music from the UK in this vein. It's the kind of music you wish they'd play on the US country music radio stations.

 

The Alamo Allen Wiener Washington January 2007.

I love your Alamo song and enjoyed listening to both versions. However, I do prefer the more recent (2006) version, where you are doing most of the vocal yourself. It is somehow 'grittier' and more compelling than the 2004 version and, frankly, easier to understand the words. This is really an epic poem/song about the Alamo and I understand it was developed from a poem you had written earlier. Thus, it is a more detailed and engaging account of the Alamo and its participants than almost any other Alamo song I've ever heard (and I think I've heard just about all of them by now). So, my congratulations on adding something truly unique and compelling to the body of musical work about the Alamo. I am very happy to be able to add these CD's to my Alamo music collection.

 

Strange Journey-The CD Years www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk February 2007.

We have been fans of this artist for as many years as we remember. From the Stonefield Tramp days in the 1970s, through to today, he is an enduring talent. His first six albums were compiled on the first anthology album, also available from our service. This second anthology actually brings together a number of projects recorded over the last few years. The recordings are all recent and so this forms a completely new album by the artist which is always welcome.

Terry's music sits between folk, rock, pop and even country. His solo music has always combined melody with insightful lyrics. We open with 'Underneath the Parish Lantern' the sound is a breezy up-tempo folk pop merging piano, organ and acoustic guitar, a combination also used well on 'Flesh of my Flesh'. 'The Ballad of Robert Curtis' is a Celtic folk song with pulsating drums and whistle. The lyrics tell of the waste of life in the Northern Ireland troubles, an issue Terry explored on his album 'The Ulster Songbook'. Terry is known for his ability to tackle political subjects without hectoring, seeing the folly at the heart of our behaviour such as on 'Bunch of Fools' here.

The album is quite varied such as on 'We get along just Fine' which has a light rock touch and evokes George Harrison. The rock aspect comes more to the fore on 'You'll Never Know' which has strong electric guitar on a moody mid-tempo song. 'In Texas' has a distinctly USA rock feel, with a fast up-tempo rock beat and electric guitar riffs. We then drop back with 'Miss You' to hand percussion and acoustic guitar. Although this might appear to be a romantic ballad. Lyrics such as 'I miss you like the desert misses the rain, I miss you like a broken man misses his pain'. So perhaps the protagonist has mixed emotions! There is a wonderful soaring electric guitar solo here too.

'Now That I've Found You' has a slight country twang to its chiming rock sound. The American feel of the album is explicit on last track 'The Alamo', a charming guitar instrumental with a spoken narrative telling the historic story before the song becomes up-tempo modern Western swing. This last track then carries on telling the story with female backing singers and electric guitar over its epic thirteen minute length.

These recordings bring Terry's story up to date before his recent work with the reformed Stonefield Tramp. It's good to know he's continuing to make music and seems as passionate as always. It seems you really can't keep a good man down!

Beneath a pale moon www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk January 2008

Terry Friend is the former member of Stonefield Tramp in the seventies who has continued to work in the folk and roots rock area. In 2002 he started to work with John Saltwell and his band Alter ego. This was Terry's first foray into a more country sound but the resultant 'The Alamo' received acclaim in the U.S.A. and was endorsed and went on sale in San Antonio, Texas. Here is their latest album with eight country-rock songs and four bonus songs drawn from the 1970's to today. Terry clearly has a lasting appreciation of country music, the band and his songs working well together.

It starts on the first two songs on country ballads with slide guitar and a warm production. However it's not all country shuffles. 'Just One Step At A Time' is a scorching country rock epic with heavy guitar and a propulsive drum beat. 'How' is the kind of adult pop that Prefab Sprout or Miracle Mike specialise in. Do my ears deceive me! 'Smile To My Eyes' even has a lazy Caribbean beat. 'For A While' has gentle guitars and tinkling piano with a Byrds like melody. The bonus songs are cleverly picked to show Terry's gradual evolution towards this area of music via Dire straights like pop-rock and acoustic pop.

The Alamo www.wovenwheatwhispers.co.uk January 2008

Terry Friend was a member of Stonefield Tramp in the 1970's and has continued to make folk influenced and roots music since that time. This version of his Alamo song was recorded with the same team that worked on his 2006 album 'Natural Noise' Including Brian Balster from 'Stonefield Tramp' and Phil Beer from 'Show of Hands'. This thematic release considers the Alamo and the volunteers defence against Santa Anna, ruler of Mexico. For over eighteen minutes Terry sings the story to effective country backing from the band. As it progresses and the tension mounts, sound effects are introduced to heighten the sense of it happening as we listen. The second and finale piece has a narration of key letters sent from the Alamo over music from Alter Ego. This was a founding event for the U.S.A. and these letters a vital artefact from their history.

Red Sky Descending www.10radio.org

One of this years nominees for a Mercury prize, Red Sky Descending is a twelve song, plus four bonus tracks, album of songwriter Terry Friend. Terry, for me, has always written songs with lyrics that are interesting and yet still have a commercial appeal. The grooves produced on this album might not offer anything drastically different or new, but it is always good to hear musicians paying homage to their era and doing songs proud, none more so than my five choices from this album starting with tracks two and three-The Birds and Here's to the South, with fine pedal steel playing from Maurice Hipkiss. On the folk style of The Man With No Voice you find yourself caught up in the lyrics of the song and Terry's haunting vocals. After All These Years is a faster number with a catchy tune and sad lyrics that speak of leaving and letting someone go rather than changing their mind, but the pick of the album for me is Old Flame with special guest Phil Beer from Show of Hands on fiddle.

This is a well-produced album with musicianship that sits well with Terry's rough country-folk voice and, all in all, is one of Terry's best albums to date. It was recorded by David Pick at his FFG studio in Bredon and special guests on the album are Phil Beer from Show of Hands, Pete Kiely and Brain Balster from Stonefield Tramp and slide guitarist Kevin Brown.

Strange Journey-The Anthology-Part Three-The Archive Phil Adams U.S.A

Hi Terry-The Anthology 3 cd arrived friday, and I really enjoyed hearing it. Some very powerful and thought-provoking songs on there. Highlights (for me) were the two 1971 songs, presumably from the Acetate LP, and the 1985 songs, which capture the feel of what I recall of living in Thatcher's Britain at the time. The two 1974 songs, with the added drummer, do sound punchier than the original versions. By the way-Factory is almost punk before it hit two years later-spitting out contempt for the shit we all have to deal with at some point in our working lives, and the drums help Bitter World move along better-nice minor chord 12-string guitar in this, also the songs play off one another as you play through the cd, which is something I always listen for in records.

The few songs I've heard from the 1971 Acetate on this and the other Anthology cd's should go down very well with today's audience, if they end up being re-issued in their entireity. There's nothing else I know of that covers similar subjects-what makes it interesting is you have the acoustic guitar picking, flute, and almost Minstrel-like singing-but the subject matter is a 180 degree opposite to the other 'acid-folk' stuff from that time-this is one bad trip through hell!

Stonefield Tramp - Dreaming Again ...(Riverman - CD; Guerssen - LP),
Jeff Penczak, Terrascope Reviews, May 2011

These Korean and Spanish reissue labels have unearthed some real treasures in the last few years - mostly private presses so obscure even the collectors don't know about them! Stonefield Tramp were an Oxford quintet named after the town (Stonesfield) where the studio in which they recorded their debut was located. Terry Friend met Rob van Spyk in 1964 whilst both were members of the All Arms Junior Leaders Regiment stationed in Tonfanau in North Wales. After the service, they reunited in Letchworth and began writing and recording songs. In Easter 1974, joined by Brian Balster, they recorded their debut album in four hours for the princely sum of £16. Follow The Sun was privately released and released on Acorn Records as by R.J. Van Spyk and Friends. Five months later they recorded a follow-up with friends Dave Lloyd and Chris Sutoris, although Friend says he only contributed lyrics and was not involved in the recordings. They rechristened themselves Stonefield Tramp and released the album privately on their own Tramp imprint.

The album is a pleasant collection of politicised, Dylanesque folk, with van Spyk's quivering vocals recalling Barry McGuire's gruff bark. There is a homegrown, almost amateurish quality to the proceedings, which occasionally sound like demos, as if the tracks were all recorded live and the first take was a keeper. But that imbues the songs with an intimacy that would otherwise have been lost in a big studio on a major label's budget. The album's centrepiece is the powerful 10-minute anti-war sentiment, ‘Bitter World’, which castigates politicians for sending young men off "to take their brother's life". There's a hallucinatory, Buckleyesque quality to van Spyk's improvisational vocal exhortations, with Lloyd's crisp guitar soloing serpentining throughout, although you'll have to judge for yourself whether there's any weight to the suggestion that the bassist was woefully out of tune. Regardless, this would've gone down wonders at a Terrastock gathering.

‘Oh Mothers Tell Your Children’ continues the band's anti-war stance and is even more vitriolic than ‘Bitter World’, while ‘Jaded Jane’ (about Ms. Fonda?) completes the trilogy of peacenik tunes that suggests the band were listening to a lot of Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Rapp, and other similar minded folkies. Friend's lyrical venom also targets the government responsible for the reprehensible conditions that envelop our heroes in ‘Social State Blues’ and force them to spend their days in drudgery working for the man in the ‘Factory’. However, the album ends on a more positive note with ‘Doing Things Naturally’, a tender ballad that invites comparisons with Dr. Strangely Strange, while inviting listeners to "Take things nice and easy/Smile and turn the other cheek". An insert allows you to sing along (although you may need a magnifying glass to decipher the handwritten lyrics) and you may just find yourself transported back to the mid-70s, singer-songwriter folk scene when politics filled young men's hearts and minds more than silly love songs. There's a naive wholesomeness and honesty to the recordings - the band certainly were serious in their attempts to attract a wider audience, and while it's not the long lost British Folk masterpiece some have suggested, it's certainly worth a listen now that you don't have to shell out £400 for the original vinyl!

Note:Terry Friend continues to write and record and has released over a dozen albums in the ensuing decades, including several with assistance from his old Stonefield Tramp mate, Brian Balster. He has an excellent website here, where you can buy the CD and check out current photos of the old Tramps!

Stonefield Tramp - Dreaming Again ... James Allen, August 2011

The U.K. folk scene was exploding with ambitious young singer/songwriters and acoustic pickers in the early '70s, when Rob Van Spyk first banded together with some similarly inclined pals to form a group that mixed rootsy sounds with often-political lyricism, the latter mostly supplied by Terry Friend. They self-released their first LP in 1974, under the name R.J. Van Spyk & Friends, but after expanding the lineup and their sound, they changed their name to Stonefield Tramp and unveiled another D.I.Y. album, Dreaming Again, that same year. The album shifts back and forth between two modes. One has a folk-rocky, all-for-one collective feel, with the group's acoustic -- and occasionally electric -- axes riffing at length over the same vamp, while rough-hewn vocals deliver intense, socially conscious lyrics mostly written by Friend. The other is a more balladic folk singer approach, typified by "Social State Blues", a straightforward political folk song of the sort that had been filling coffeehouses all over England a few years earlier, but were likely in shorter supply by 1974. The penultimate track on Dreaming Again is the mostly instrumental "Theme from Follow the Sun", the sort of tune tailor-made for riding off into the sunset, with its keening, cowboy harmonica and "happy trails" feel. Things close out with the low-key acoustic picking of "Doing Things Naturally", a kind of anti-anthem for the post-hippie era. In the end, there's an endearingly amateurish quality to the whole affair that imbues Dreaming Again with an amiable underground vibe even when the subject matter turns gloomy.

 

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