Tag Archives: Steve Dagger

2018 ➤ Dad band Spandau preen with pride for Ross their newly adopted son

pop music, media, rebirth, Ross William Wild, Spandau Ballet, concert, spandauballetlive, Subterania,

A confident debut with Spandau Ballet: Ross William Wild at Subterania last night

pop music, media, rebirth, Ross William Wild, Spandau Ballet, concert, spandauballetlive, Subterania,

Ross William Wild’s debut with Spandau Ballet: from left, Martin, Ross, Steve and Gary

AND WHAT TOUR DE FORCE the entire band made of Spandau Ballet’s rebirth last night to showcase their new singer Ross William Wild who effortlessly filled the space onstage vacated by Tony Hadley. At the age of 30 Aberdeen-reared Ross could easily be the son of any of the Spandau dads around him, yet he had infused new energy into them to inspire one of the tightest all-round performances in recent years. He embodies all a lead singer should: energy, confidence, instantly likeability and a strong singing voice that almost never sounds like his predecessor.

Ross was announced by the tabloids as an Elvis Presley impersonator so it was a relief that this is not what we saw or heard: in fact the inflexions in his singing voice do reflect his principal experience in musical theatre, most recently in The Million Dollar Quartet, The Witches of Eastwick, and We Will Rock You. And though in the Noughties he was the lead singer in a nu-metal band called Lethal Dosage, Ross performs with shoulders, arms, hips, feet – in fact, his entire body just as you’d expect in a stage musical.

pop music, media, rebirth, Ross William Wild, Spandau Ballet, concert, spandauballetlive, Subterania,

Spandau’s rebirth set list

From Spandau’s nostalgically involved opening hit Through the Barricades, Ross made each of the set’s 13 hit numbers his own (with almost as many changes of shirt!).

Spotlit on a darkened stage, his first three minutes were a vocal slow-burn alongside a masterly Gary Kemp on solo guitar. It was a daring move to persuade us to listen. By the second line, as he gave vibrato to the lyric, Ross was evidently “feeling strong”, and from here on he introduced us to his voice in gentle stages, slowly raising the temperature, until the pause. . . Then: bam-bam! Keeble’s drums announced the bombast of Barricades proper, and Ross let rip to command centre-stage, amid the familiar Spandau front-line on vocals. They climaxed with a big sound in an intimate clubby space, up close to 500 of their fans. What a statement of intent!

HEAR ROSS’S FIRST VERSE OF ‘BARRICADES’


Ross excelled in another emotional classic Only When You Leave, had the audience eating out of his spiralling hand for Round and Round, pogoing through Lifeline, and by the encore the hot summer’s evening had him stripped down to a vest as he gloriously re-energised To Cut a Long Story Short to sound like a brand-new number. Amazingly, at the bar afterwards, Ross said he was intrigued by its lyrics since he first heard this hit from 1980, but read none of Gary Kemp’s meaning into it or the lyrical quotation it contains. He imagines it is set in the first world war trenches and reflects the strange solitude of the soldier.

➢ Click to hear Rusty Egan’s 2h16m deejay set
recorded live at the Subterania Club before
Spandau Ballet’s rebirth concert

The band’s families and friends turned out along with veteran Blitz Kids and Beat Routers (smashing to see you again, genial doorman Ollie O’Donnell) who could all be seen grooving to Rusty Egan’s unique mixes at the after-party. Sentimental as ever, Martin Kemp had announced from the stage that last night’s venue, Subterania beneath Westway at Portobello Road, was chosen because in its days as Acklam Hall community centre, the original Spandau lineup had played a benefit there under their early name, Gentry, on Saturday 24 February 1979. In the after-bash I recognised the curly-haired photographer Denis O’Regan who was at work with his camera. Spookily I’d just posted one of his seminal band images here at Shapersofthe80s on my own tribute revisit to 1980 when Denis had posed the band in his studio and uplit them to create the dramatic shot of Spandau which became the expressionist motif of their live performance that spring at the Scala Cinema.

Verdicts from the band on their young vocalist are breathless. Gary Kemp said: “Ross’s great talent and passion has given us the confidence to continue.” Drummer John Keeble who drove the show with his usual percussive enthusiasm said: “I bonded with Ross over our mutual love of rock music. He may have come up through the theatres but he loves bands like Tool.” Steve Norman added: “He’s also a right nice bloke. We struck lucky.” [I often wonder whether Steve realises just how richly musical his own sax playing is! Ben Webster will be smiling benignly at this.]

pop music, media, rebirth, Ross William Wild, Spandau Ballet, concert, spandauballetlive, Subterania, Jaco Norman,

At the after-party: Ross William Wild shares song-writing ambitions with Steve Norman’s son Jaco

pop music, media, rebirth, Ross William Wild, Spandau Ballet, concert, spandauballetlive, Subterania, Steve Dagger

Patrolling the audience during Spandau’s rebirth gig: their trusty manager Steve Dagger evidently chuffed to bits at their new singer

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: The Spandau show must go on and Oh, the Wild voice!

➢ More Spandau Ballet at Twitter where a one-off concert is now booking for Apollo Hammersmith on 29 October

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2018 ➤ Revealed: The secret role of Shapersofthe80s in the rise and rise of Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet, 1980,Scala Cinema, performance,

A photograph never before published: sharply styled Spandau Ballet in 1980 playing the dramatically lit Scala Cinema gig that eventually brought the record companies scrambling to sign them. Photograph by Steve Brown

FIRST COMES THIS UNAUTHORISED BOOK that tells the world there were two bands called Spandau Ballet back in 1979 and turns over the whole myth about where their name came from. There are a least two huge marmalade-dropper revelations, plus several dozen eye-openers about the birth of Blitz culture, however well you think you knew the early 80s. The author David Barrat even knows John Keeble’s middle name. In fact he gives us everybody’s middle name, just to prove his overdue diligence. Barrat is also very revealing about the band’s legal falling-out that ended in the high court before an apparently congenial judge who quite liked their music.

Then out of the blue I find there are about 100 shockingly well-informed pages not exactly about me, long before this website existed, but following my every footstep through every month of 1980 as the second SB with the stolen name takes its first tentative steps toward a record deal and the UK charts all within a single year – which was indeed good going for a new band by any standards. Very flatteringly Barrat suggests that I am waving some Invisible Hand behind the scenes to make the Spandau magic happen and actually writes that “their success can be pinned on one Evening Standard journalist”. Talk about blush!

New Romantics Who Never Were: The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet, David Barrat, Orsam Books, pop music, historySo what we’re doing here today is offering a modest extract from Barrat’s book for you to read how he theorises about my ducking and diving as a regular young journalist about town who suddenly fell into five years of rollicking night-clubbing. Then on an inside page you can read my own parallel account of falling under the spell of the real Svengali, Steve Dagger, Spandau’s manager. I blow the gaff on his game called Squeeze the Lemon.

David Barrat says he became “just an ordinary fan of the band” at the age of 16, who two decades later created a cult SB-related MSN group online called Deformation. It focussed on three subjects: 1, origins of the band’s name; 2, whether SB were real “New Romantics” or not, as a friend’s mum claimed; 3, the legal battle that tore the band apart in the late 1990s. He tackles other questions such as “When was Gary Kemp visited at home by a bishop? What was the real story behind Bob Geldof’s idea for the Band Aid Christmas single?” All the while he unnervingly debunks myths put about by celebrities with faulty memories.

He has also dug up a mass of colourful detail about London clubland in the past when the police were as dodgy as the club-owners, the notorious Roxy in particular, which adds quite a bit to the sum of human knowledge.

So tuck into Barrat’s own book in the extract embedded here as a PDF which will open in a new window. Then contrast it with my own account at the link below.

David Barrat

Click on this image to read the David Barrat book extract

WHEN YOU’RE READY FOR MY OWN STORY…

➢ 1980 was one frantic year – Follow my version of Spandau Ballet’s unprecedented rise, penned by the Invisible Hand of Shapersofthe80s

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Spooky or what? When two bands went by the name of Spandau Ballet – the most amazing revelation made in Barrat’s book

Spandau Ballet , Papagayo Club,pop music, St Tropez

Spandau Ballet on the beach in St Tropez 1980: a fortnight in the sun courtesy of the Papagayo Club before they’d even signed a deal! (Photographer unknown)

➢ Click to buy New Romantics Who Never Were: The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet, by David Barrat, from Orsam Books, 330pp, £16.99

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1968 ➤ Why Ogdens was little Stevie Marriott’s ejector seat out of the Small Faces

Small Faces, pop music, Swinging 60s

Small Faces 1968: Ian McLagan, Steve Marriott, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Lane, plus producer Glyn Johns

➢ As the Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
turns 50 today, Ron Hart at Billboard invites stars
to pay tribute – 24 May 2018:

There was one album from 1968 that distilled all the bombast and buffoonery of the singularly themed song cycle in pop music, housed in a round LP jacket miming the vintage tobacco tin it was named after. Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was the fourth LP by East London’s Small Faces, a mod quartet who set themselves apart not only by their uniformly demure stature among its members — guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones — but their heavy influence on the grittier end of the R&B/soul spectrum that was propelling many of the British Invasion bands.

Small Faces, plaques, pop music, Swinging 60s

Green commemorative plaque to the Small Faces erected in 2007 by Westminster council in Carnaby Street

Under the recording guidance of the great Glyn Johns – who had also spent ’68 already working on a ton of other albums including Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones, the second Traffic LP and the debut from The Pentangle – the group pushed their art beyond the pop charts and toward a more adventurous strain of their signature sound. The sense of raggedness exhibited by the band upon their return from an Australian tour opening for The Who is quite palpable in the mix as well. . . / Continued at Billboard online

❏ Stevie went on to join Peter Frampton in Humble Pie – he writes in Billboard: “Ogdens’ was the best Small Faces album for me. It was just after its release that I first met Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, and there was talk of me joining the band as the fifth member as well. They were always one of my most favourite bands from Whatcha Gonna Do About It onwards. This album’s great material and concept are what made it their finest work. Its eye-catching round cover made it unique before you even heard the music. Love this record.”

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Peter Frampton on how Bowie changed my life at Bromley Tech

THE DAY WE MET OUR ICON LITTLE STEVIE

California ,pop music, Steve Marriott , Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Dagger, Sam Brown

Backstage after his San Fernando gig 1983: Steve Marriott at centre of his admiring fans, clockwise, Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp, John Keeble, record-company dude, Steve Dagger, Sam Brown – plus Yours Truly holding the camera

IT WAS MARTIN KEMP WHO’D HAD ENOUGH of the schmoozy dinner laid on by his record label while Spandau Ballet were touring the USA on the back of their chart-topping True in November 1983. They had a package of TV shows and other promos scheduled in Los Angeles which made a trip to join them on the West Coast more fun, but this dinner was yawning a bit. “You won’t guess who’s playing a gig tonight at a country club just up the Valley,” said Martin: “Steve Marriott!” Well you couldn’t have offered any better temptation to those of us with Mod sensibilities than our hero from the Small Faces, who back then had settled in the States and never stopped working the club circuit with his own dedicated band, however humble the venue. Since impresario Don Arden had defaulted on the Small Faces’ unpaid royalties, Stevie had moved to California to escape monstrous tax liabilities in the UK.

Within minutes Martin had inquired how far the venue was and had laid on a limo for all who were keen to zoom off to Stevie’s late-night show. These amounted to the ultimate Mod, Spandau manager Steve Dagger, drummer Johnny Keeble, Sam Brown (providing backing vocals on the tour), plus yours truly and the local record company hand-holder. The rest of the Spands had made other arrangements so our party of six squeezed into the limo and roared off up the Valley for a truly exceptional bonus to a long day.

The sad truth was that the big-name Reseda Country Club was a yawning cavern containing 1,000 seats, and the Marriott band’s audience numbered literally about 20 people including ourselves. Nevertheless, the minute his quartet hit the stage they made a sound so tight it could have thrilled a stadium, while Stevie the consummate pro delivered that oh-so-fabulous voice, albeit slightly rasping at the ripe age of 36, and brought full value to a good few piquant hits from the Small Faces and Humble Pie, including All Or Nothing.

Martin Kemp ,John Keeble, Steve Marriott, band, pop music, live, Spandau Ballet

Utterly chuffed: Martin Kemp and John Keeble stumbled by chance across this Steve Marriott gig in 1983 – that’s him live onstage here in the San Fernando Valley

I wasn’t going to pass up the chance of going down to the stage to shoot off a sentimental roll of film but the biggest surprise came at the end of easily one of the 10 best sets I’ve heard in my life. Sam Brown said since we were here we really ought to go backstage and say Hi to Stevie – whereupon the Spands all revealed the genuine humility of real fans and mumbled stuff about not dreaming of barging in on him. Whereupon Sam announced she knew Stevie very well through her dad, the 60s legend Joe Brown, who of course knew Marriott of old.

The result you see above: a fab souvenir photo of our chirpy hero who was tickled pink to hear some authentic British vowels while on the road. The pow-wow was a blast all round. Eight years later, little Stevie Marriott, one of the greatest talents in British pop, died in a blaze at his Essex cottage.

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2013 ➤ Double whammy from the Spandau boys

Spandau Ballet, Genesis books, Spandau the True Story , Paul Simper
❚ BEING REVEALED currently on Facebook, two major Spandau Ballet announcements. First the biography of the band, a superior coffee-table photobook, Spandau the True Story, which records the entire career of the Angel Boys from Islingon, penned by their longtime shadow Paul “Scoop” Simper and published by the prestige celebrity publisher Genesis. It features unseen pictures taken not only by clubland mate Graham “Heroes” Smith, but also by Shapersofthe80s – the team who were there from the start of the New Romantic story.

➢ Spandau the True Story: sign up today at Genesis Publications, “the home of beautiful music books” … Register your interest
without financial commitment

A second announcement tonight heralds the movie Soul Boys of The Western World, a feature-length documentary containing much unseen vintage footage, produced by Grammy Award-winner Scott Millaney who was a founding member of the promo video company MGMM in the 80s just as the British music industry boomed. His company produced over 1,000 pop promos including Video Killed the Radio Star, Vienna, Dancing in the Street and Rio.

“Scoop” Simper, today an executive celebrity writer at The Sun who wrote the film’s treatment, said tonight: “There is wonderful footage of the Spandau mums and dads when they were all still with us. And never-before-seen footage from Los Angeles and Australia when the band were in their pop pomp. All the band have contributed voiceovers.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger reveals that a case full of early film footage of the band has been discovered recently. This includes offcuts not used in a prominent TV item just before release of the band’s third single Musclebound in March 1981, and aired on the BBC teatime news magazine Nationwide. Just as the phrase New Romantics was coming into wider use by both media and an emerging generation of UK image bands, including Duran Duran, the BBC cameras capture what Dagger calls “priceless cavortings” within Soho’s heaving Beat Route club.

There’s also a whole film sequence in Jon “Mole” Baker’s shop off Carnaby Street, where Spandau members are seen trying on a variety of outfits by the Axiom collective of designers, which were to be shown in a New York runway show two months later, in what became the “First Blitz invasion” of the US, organised by both the band and the former Blitz Kid fashionistas. These Axiom collections received another runway show at Steve Strange’s Club for Heroes in London in the autumn of ’81, by which time the charts were ablaze with new slipstream bands and British street style began to explode.

movie, Scott Millaney, Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of The Western World,
❏ On tonight’s Jonathan Ross Show Gary and Martin Kemp (pictured below) were talking about their new TV series Gangs of Britain, due to air on the Crime & Investigation Network (Sky 553 and Virgin 237) on Sundays from April 21 at 9pm BST. It’s three years since Spandau Ballet played live together so the killer question is whether they might reunite for another tour? Gary told Ross: “I pretty much guarantee we’ll do it again next year.” Martin added: “I hope so. I’ve never laughed as much as that year [on the Reformation Tour]. Just to have that year of getting your best friends back together was so lovely. I would say it was the best year of my life.”

Jonathan Ross Show,Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp ,TV series, Gangs of Britain

Another Spandau tour? Martin and Gary Kemp give Jonathan Ross a cautious yes tonight. (Viewable on ITV Player for another month. Screengrab © ITV)

TWEET ALONG TO THE KRAYS

❏ Tomorrow night, if you’re viewing the 1990 British movie The Krays on ITV4 at 9pm BST, Martin and Gary Kemp will be tweeting along with the film. Viewers can take part by using the hashtag #KraysLive while watching the brothers recreating the villainy of the English gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray who led organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s.
➢ Follow Martin @ Twitter
➢ Follow Gary @ Twitter

Spandau Ballet, limited edition, lithograph, prints, True, Artwork, David Band

EXCLUSIVE PRINTS OF TRUE ARTWORK

❏ New on sale at the Spandau store is a limited edition 20 x 20-inch lithographic print embossed onto the highest quality 270gsm uncoated paper of the True album artwork by Spandau friend David Band, a Scottish artist who also designed sleeves for Altered Images and Aztec Camera and sadly died in Australia in 2011. Reproduced to celebrate Spandau’s 30th anniversary of their No 1 hit, each print is hand-signed (not reproduction signatures) by all members of Spandau Ballet, and hand-numbered by a professional scribe in a run of only 500 prints.

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➤ “Yes this is a Wag rerun” — Sullivan on his Sussex alternative to London’s carnival

Chris Sullivan, Wag club, Jon Baker, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s,West Dean Festival,

Sullivan then and now: the Wag club host in his painted pavilion in 1983 and, right, deejaying for Jon Baker’s Jolly Boys concert in New York this spring

❚ NOT ONLY IS ADAM ANT TOPPING THE BILL on Saturday but half-price tickets were still available today to followers of Chris Sullivan, joint host for 19 years of Soho’s legendary Wag club which he founded in 1982. This bank-holiday weekend Aug 26–28 he plays deejay and music programmer at the three-day West Dean Festival near Chichester in rural West Sussex. The knees-up 90 minutes from London will be a “nice alternative” to the annual Notting Hill Carnival, he says. In fact, “a Wag rerun… for parents”!

As undoubtedly the most influential club host of the 80s, as well as vocalist in the crazy Latin band Blue Rondo à la Turk, Sullivan commands one of the fattest contacts books in clubland. So while this weekend’s festival across two stages and late-night café bar aims to celebrate all aspects of the arts, it’s no surprise that the day-long live music is designed to attract the aficionado. Friday headliners are Natty Bo and The Top Cats, plus The Third Degree … Saturday boasts the reborn Adam Ant and his band The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse, plus Polecats, Dulwich Ukulele Club, and 80s warehouse deejay Phil Dirtbox … Soul singer James Hunter headlines on Sunday.

When I reminded 51-year-old Sullivan that the locals are billing it as “A magical escape for all the family” he was keen to promise this would not put a damper on the fun. “Kids go to bed at 9-10ish and when there’s a few of them they look after each other with the supervision of one adult maybe. Meanwhile we let rip in the knowledge that they are near and we save money on babysitters and have a right old beano.”

That’s the Wag spirit! In fact, beano was the very word he used in 1983 when my report in The Face rounded up the four hottest nightposts in the swinging New London Weekend. The Wag had been open less than a year and his pitch was: “We’d like people to come in with a sense of beano and to leave with hangovers and blisters on the feet.”

Chris Sullivan,Christos Tolera, Blue Rondo à la Turk, pop group, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s,

Sullivan and Christos Tolera in 1981: vocalists with Blue Rondo à la Turk, photographed for The Face by Mike Laye

Despite his origins in the Welsh Valleys and being built like a rugby player – “I’m six foot two and sixteen stone” — Sullivan’s unswerving sense of personal style got him into two London art schools while his exuberant warehouse parties during 1978-9 established him as a pivotal tastemaker in the post-punk vacuum. It goes without saying that his two passions were music and clothes. And that his wit was as quick as silver.

By 1980 he was the highly articulate pathfinder for the non-gay men’s team putting the Blitz Kids in the headlines. The ultimate soundbite “One look lasts a day” was Sullivan’s. Here was a New Romantic dandy whose ever-changing attire referenced every movie matinee idol from zoot-suited gangster to straw-hatted playboy to Basque bereted separatist. Here was an MC who along with his deejay contemporaries displaced electronics in favour of funk — drawn initially from his own collection of 7-inch singles — at a string of creative weekly club-nights, St Moritz, Hell, Le Kilt and then the Wag in the huge premises that had been known as the Whisky-A-Go-Go since the Swinging 60s.

During three helter-skelter years British music trended from punk, Bowie, electro-pop and mutant disco back to James Brown and funk. “Things moved so fast then, that the 80s heralded a completely new era,” Sullivan said. The claim he will not make is about his own enormous circle of influence. Back in the dark age before mobile phones the defining measure of his social clout came from Steve Dagger, manager of Spandau Ballet. He gave me the priceless paradigm: “You could put Sullivan outside a public lavatory, announce a party and within two hours you’d have a queue of 500 people paying £3 to get in.”

Few other individuals on the London scene of the early 80s had a greater impact than Chris Sullivan on shaping the intimate relationship between sound and style in the private worlds of the new young.

Blue Rondo gig 1982: zoot-suited fans mashing up a dancefloor in Bournemouth. Photography by Shapersofthe80s

Under his partnership with Ollie O’Donnell, who himself had already made a clubland institution of Le Beat Route, the Wag eventually ran seven nights a week to become Soho’s coolest hangout for artful posers and musical movers and shakers. In Sullivan’s own words, the place “basically predicted the future of music for the next 15 years” which gratifies him no end.

The club’s unique appeal was a reflection of his sub-cultural instincts, which were refined as a teenage graduate of the Northern Soul scene during the 70s. The Wag also proved a mighty kick in the teeth for the smug ruling elite in the rock press — those “white middle-class punks who couldn’t dance and hated black music” and whose vitriolic attacks on Blue Rondo undermined industry faith in his stylish seven-piece band and their jazzy Latinised funk.

Blue Rondo à la Turk was a dream project inspired after Sullivan made “one of those mad trips” to the black clubs of New York in 1980: “I wanted to start a band that would play the music I could dance to — a mix of Tom Waits meets Tito Puente meets James Brown, and all a bit off-kilter.”

Rondo were a bizarre multi-racial troupe of live musicians who also boasted wild dancing feet and tapped into like-minded audiences who’d misspent their youth on Britain’s underground soul circuit, a mighty fanbase either unknown to or utterly scorned by the rock press. His band were born entertainers and their first album, Chewing the Fat, was easily the most inventive of 1982. Not long ago Sullivan vented his spleen to me: “Those middle-class twits in the music press hated us because we had the effrontery to play dance music and we weren’t black, but also because we dressed up onstage — which basically became the remit for the next two decades. The press were all-powerful in those days and some took it upon themselves to make us their whipping boys.”

Well, the magnificent seven in Blue Rondo were precursors of the wags Sullivan named a nightclub for: “The wag from the 20s was a bit of a cad, wore monocle and spats, was a mean dancer and very much the ladies’ man.” Musically, his Soho nightspot was the most progressive venue of the 80s. Nowhere else came close. “I knew from day one we were selling a Saturday night nobody else was doing — a really hip club which played all manner of black dance music.” Only last month before deejaying at the Southbank’s Vintage festival, Sullivan wrote: “The Wag is important because it opened funk and black music to a huge, new crowd of people which still prevails. We were one of the first to do it and it’s still going on.”

➢ Mention Sullivan’s name at the gate for 50% discount on the West Dean Festival tickets or mail chris [@] sullivan60.co.uk

Adam Ant ,The Good The Mad & The Lovely,pop group,West Dean Festival,

80s hero Adam Ant: on the road this year with The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse, pictured by Marc Broussely

West Dean Festival, Polecats, rockabilly ,rock group,

80s rockabilly band The Polecats: scheduled to play West Dean Festival, photographed last year by Steve Wadlan

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