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CHART ATTACK! #32: 5/21/77

Hi everybody, and welcome back to CHART ATTACK!  It’s true: I turned 30 on Wednesday.  (See my Pablo Cruise t-shirt??)  I thought it’d be fun to see what songs were on the radio as my parents were frantically racing to the hospital.  Enjoy as we attack the charts from May 21, 1977!

10.  Lucille – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
9.  Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Hotel California – Eagles  Amazon iTunes
7.  Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti  Amazon iTunes
6.  Dreams – Fleetwood Mac  Amazon iTunes
5.  Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1) – Marvin Gaye  Amazon iTunes
4.  I’m Your Boogie Man – KC & The Sunshine Band  Amazon iTunes
3.  Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band  Amazon
2.  When I Need You – Leo Sayer  Amazon iTunes
1.  Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder  Amazon iTunes

10.  Lucille – Kenny Rogers

Well, this week is off to a bad start.

In 1975, Kenny Rogers left The First Edition – the band that had made him a success with "Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town" but had rapidly declined, leaving Rogers $65,000 in debt – and ventured off to start a solo career.  His first attempt, "Love Lifted Me," made a slight impact on Country charts but peaked at a dismal #97 on the Hot 100.  It took him two years to reach major success with "Lucille," which reached #5 here and topped the Country charts.  And suddenly, Kenny Rogers realized he could climb aboard the scratchy-voiced gravy train from here to kingdom come.  Why did the country just fall in love with a singer who sounded like he was falling asleep standing up?

I covered "Coward Of The County" a few months ago, and this song is pretty much the same sound – just slower and with no drums.  It even has the key change (although sadly, only one).  Here’s what would have made "Lucille" a winner for me: an abrupt switch to double triple-time, or a loud, electric guitar chord right at the very end.  Sadly, the song fades out, so I consider it a failure.  I hate you, Kenny.  Unless you’re performing with Lionel Richie.  I really gotta do that post about Lionel and Kenny on CMT Crossroads.

9.  Southern Nights – Glen Campbell (download)

Awww, yeah!  I’ll tell the truth – right now is the first time I’m hearing this song, and I love it.  Love the beat, the banjo, and that guitar riff that almost sounds (for two notes) like it’s going to be Little River Band’s "Reminiscing."  (That riff, by the way, was reportedly influenced by Jerry Reed.)  Man, remember when Glen Campbell was just huge?  Because I don’t.  I’m not even sure how many people my age will know much about him other than his unflattering mugshot a few years ago.  But "Southern Nights" was yet another #1 smash for Campbell, following the unstoppable hit "Rhinestone Cowboy" two years prior.  Written by Allan Toussaint and introduced to Campbell by his friend Jimmy Webb, "Southern Nights" topped the Country charts as well (right behind stupid Kenny Rogers, I guess), and was the #1 jukebox hit of 1977.

8.  Hotel California – Eagles

Oh, man.  Why did I pick this chart?  I mean, it’s not that I don’t like "Hotel California."  I recognize that many people hate it, but I don’t at all (other than the fact that it goes on forever).  I just don’t know what to say about "Hotel California."  Blah blah blah, colitas, blah blah blah, steely knives, blah blah blah, Satan.  What can you say about the song that hasn’t already been said?  Plus, if you’re interested in the musical structure of the song, look no further than this page.  So, instead, I’ll tell you this: if you’re interested in the complicated history of The Eagles, check out To The Limit: The Untold Story Of The Eagles by Marc Eliot.  I don’t own it, but I imagine I read about 45% of it one day while in Barnes & Noble.  Couldn’t put it down.  Plus, there’s an awesome afterword where the author talks about how Don Henley essentially coerced bookstores not to stock the book, promising them he’d do an in-store performance in return.  I don’t know if it’s true, but I like any book that makes Henley look like a little bitch.

7.  Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti (download)
    Bonus Rocky Download: Gonna Fly Now – Maynard Ferguson (download)

My wife and I consider "Power Of Two" by Indigo Girls to be "our song," but if you want to get technical, this one could also be considered "ours."  On one of our first dates, I took her to see famed trumpet player Maynard Ferguson, who was appearing on campus.  Now, I didn’t know a damn thing about Ferguson, but I knew that Jess played the trumpet, and that this move would probably make me look really classy.  Go to hell, Mark Morrison – this is the real return of the mack!  (Ohmygod!)

So we arrived at the show, and I read that he had a Top 40 hit in ’77 for "Gonna Fly Now" (oddly, his was a hit partially due to the fact that it was released before the official Rocky soundtrack), and all I could think was: when the fuck is he going to play the Rocky song?  So finally, the band played it (by 1997, Ferguson was only playing maybe ten notes a concert, and the rest of his time was spent waving his hands in the air like he just didn’t care), and I let out a sigh of relief.  Jess didn’t know yet that I was a complete dork, so it took every ounce of will in my body to not start singing along with the lyrics.

And speaking of the lyrics:  I can’t believe someone got credit for writing these.  Do you know what they’re saying?

Trying hard now
it’s so hard now
trying hard now

Getting strong now
won’t be long now
getting strong now

Gonna fly now
flying high now
gonna fly, fly, fly…

I think I was singing something like "Gonna fly now….Rocky Five now…"  But is that so much worse?

As I mentioned, Ferguson’s dance-infused take on the song reached #30, but Conti’s version went all the way #1.  (Stealing the top spot away from it?  "Undercover Angel.")  But here’s the interesting thing about "Gonna Fly Now": it wasn’t originally the theme of the flick.  Bill Conti had been hired to score the film, but Sylvester Stallone’s brother, Frank, had written a song that was going to be featured prominently in the movie.  The name of the song – and I swear I am not making this up – was "He Had A Sunday Punch That Will Put Him Into Monday."

Suddenly "It’s so hard now/Trying hard now" doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Lyrics aside, "Gonna Fly Now" freakin’ rocks.  The bongos, the strings, and of course, the horns.  Oh, the horns!  And Ferguson’s version is actually better than Conti’s – but both rock.  I was going to say "it doesn’t get more iconic than this," but of course, it does.  This one’s up there, though, as one of the most recognizable themes in movie history.  And come on – you know you want to pump your fists to this one.  You probably even want to run up some stairs.  Go ahead, run up some stairs.  I’ll wait.

6.  Dreams – Fleetwood Mac

Okay, put your fists down.  "Dreams", from the excellent Rumours, of course, was written by Nicks, and is about her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham.  (I’m shocked.)  Nicks wrote it in the studio next door to the band’s, where Sly from Sly and the Family Stone was recording using a basic, keyboard-created drum pattern.  I usually take any opportunity to mock Stevie Nicks, but I actually really like this song.  I didn’t realize how beautiful it was until I saw it being covered on the Classic Albums series, where they stripped the song down to just the vocals.  The harmonies by Buckingham and Christine McVie are beautiful.  Apparently it took Buckingham to convince McVie that the song was worth recording – after all, it’s all pretty much one chord – which she claimed he did by fashioning "three sections out of identical chords, making each section sound completely different. He created the impression that there’s a thread running through the whole thing."

Here’s a particularly nice performance from ’77:


All these years, and "Dreams" remains the only #1 single for the group.  (I would have bet $5 out of Kurt’s wallet that "Little Lies" topped the charts, but it stalled at #4.) 

5.  Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1) – Marvin Gaye (download)

Oh man, I’m going to embarass myself right now.  I first heard this song when it was used in Charlie’s Angels.  The movie.  I can’t believe I’m admitting it, but shit, I made it through last week’s Hanson admission relatively unscathed, and perhaps I’m just trying to see how much I can actually say before you all run away for good.  So yeah.  Heard this during Charlie’s Angels.  If I recall correctly, it started playing at the exact moment that Sam Rockwell’s character was revealed to be a villain.  Excellent placement, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that I didn’t hear this song until 2000.  Well, whatever, at least I finally heard it.

I dare you to listen to "Got To Give It Up" and not feel an undeniable urge to shake your booty.  The bass/percussion groove (a clang against a half-filled glass bottle of grapefruit juice), along with the hollerin’ crowd in the background, is so ridiculously funky that it’s not even funny.  (Sentences like this one are why I don’t do this for money.)  But here’s the thing: I never feel the need to get past two-and-a-half minutes on the track.  It’s like: I’m shakin’ my booty, I’m shakin’ my booty, I’m shakin’ my booty, BAM, I’m done.  Booty shaking is over.  Booty’s tired.  Booty wants to move on to Rick James or something.

I bet you’d like to know something about the song, wouldn’t you.  Well, hang on.  First I have to decide whether or not I have anything else to say about my booty.

Okay, I’m good.  So "Got To Give It Up" was inspired by Johnnie Taylor’s "Disco Lady," a hit in its own right (and the first certified platinum single by the RIAA – two million sold).  The track was almost an afterthought; a studio recording tacked on to the very end of Gaye’s "Live At The London Palladium" album.  The song clocked in at almost twelve minutes (and I complained before minute three!), and was edited down to a more manageable four-plus and renamed "Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1)."  The single was a simultaneous #1 on Pop, R&B and Dance, although only retained the top spot here for a week before being bested by "Gonna Fly Now."  That’s gotta hurt.

4.  I’m Your Boogie Man – KC & The Sunshine Band

If Kenny Rogers wasn’t enough, here’s another example of how the record-buying public loves a solid formula:  "I’m Your Boogie Man" is "Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty)" is "Keep It Comin’ Love" is "Get Down Tonight" is…you get the point.  In fact, the only popular KC song that sounds different than the others is "Please Don’t Go," and as we pointed out back in December, that song sucks.  But you just couldn’t stop KC in the late ’70s: this song was the fourth #1 for the band, making them the second group to achieve four #1 singles in the ’70s.  Can you name the other group?

3.  Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band

You know, after this past week’s Mellow Gold debacle, "Couldn’t Get It Right" never seemed so appropriate.  Apparently I was the only one who thought the song had some Mellow Gold in it.  Mea culpa.  But thanks for cutting me some slack.  Good thing I posted it on my birthday – you guys were so forgiving!  Anyhow, scroll down to Mellow Gold #32 if you want to read about this one.

2.  When I Need You – Leo Sayer

Between 1974 and 1981, Leo Sayer made some impressive appearances on the charts.  "When I Need You," a pretty ballad written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager, was his second #1 after 1976’s "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing."  Not bad for a guy who initially got people’s attention by dressing like a clown.

Think of him as KISS, but with actual talent.  Sayer, who had his first taste of success co-writing songs for Roger Daltrey’s first solo album, adopted the Pierrot clown costume and found that people were flocking to his concerts to see what he was about. 


Great voice, huh?  Sayer was ballsy enough to drop the costume as soon as he became well-known, and audiences stuck around – unlike KISS.  They even stuck around to buy an album with this cover.

"When I Need You" came from the above album, Endless Flight, and although it only topped the charts for a week, Sayer gets much respect from me, simply based on the below clip.


I’ve watched this clip multiple times.  And this one, too.

1.  Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

Well, whaddya know.  Here I was, all set to be depressed about the songs that were topping the charts during the week of my birth, and then we came upon the #1 song of the week – one of the most awesome Stevie Wonder tunes ever – and poof, my sadness is gone!

Many journalists (real ones, I might add) have discussed the majesty of "Sir Duke" in ways I could never hope to match, so I’ll be as simple about this one as I can:  Joy.  That’s it, really, "Sir Duke" summarized in a single word.  I don’t know if it’s possible to really listen to "Sir Duke" without breaking into a smile.    And as much as I love the song – I can’t listen to it on its own.  I have to hear "I Wish" immediately after, the way it’s tracked on Songs In The Key Of Life.  "I Wish" was the first single from the long-awaited album, and, like this track, flew to the top of the charts.

I guess the thing that really makes me dig "Sir Duke" is this:  in one song, Stevie takes a look at music, its impact on our lives, and celebrates the people who brought it to us and made us feel the way we do about it.  Not to be cheesy, but that’s kind of what I’m trying to do.  Except with really crappy music instead of good music.

Have a great weekend, and see you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

  • Emily

    Happy Belated Birthday Jason!  Congrats on one point five score years!  Now- how? HOW could you have passed up on the opportunity to plug the Yacht Rock series while covering ‘Hotel California’!  If you haven’t seen the episode highlighting the rivalry between the Eagles and Steely Dan (with a Revenge of the Nerds twist), may I recommend…http://www.channel101.com/shows/show.php?show_id=152

  • woofpop

    Well, Glen Campbell was really past his prime at this point – this was more of a fluke return to the top (kind of like Neil Sedaka)  – but, he was HUGE about ’69 or ’70. We second graders at the time knew him from his TV show, and the songs our moms played in the car. BTW, Toussaint’s version of the song is awesome..
    I AM jealous theat you got to see MF live. I imagine, by that time, he looked like Ernest Borgnine with a Hair Bear Bunch wig on, but..those high notes!
    I cannot hear "Dreams" now without thinking of the SNL Lucy Lawless "Stevie Nicks’ Fajita Ranch" skit.. "Well there you go again; you say you want burritos"…
    Leo Sayer – Richard Simmons?
    "Sir Duke" always makes me want to hear "I Wish", as well. In fact, instead of "Sir Duke" at this point…

  • What a great week.  Admittedly I’m bound to like it, since I was thirteen and listening to the top forty every week, writing down the chart as Casey Kasem counted it down.  I got weirdly emotionally involved, too; I remember being upset when KC & the Sunshine Band’s "I Want To Do It" stalled around number 37.

  • woofpop

     I can back you up on the weird emotional bind that Casey’s countdown had on certain youth of the day.. In retrospect, think of the countless Sunday afternoon hours spent doing nothing but absorbing the chart positions of those lucky forty songs. Wasted time? I think not.

  • Dreams is a WSP staple. Someone always wants to sing it. When there are enough capable singers to get the backing vocals going on it’s tolerable, but really, how would you like to play an F chord (and an occaisional F/G) for 5 uninterrupted minutes?
    I hate Dreams.
    Lini is going to kill you for besmirching the good name of Kenny Rogers. Sh might even sic her mom on you.
    I had heard Gotta Give It Up before Charlies Angels, but didn’t know how it was by or what it was called. The Charlie’s Angels scene was my "Oh yeah, this song! I love this song, who is it by?" moment. That whole soundtrack was quite good actually. It introduced me to "Twiggy Twiggy" by the Pizzicato 5, which is one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs.

  • It just so happens that Sony sent me The Essential Maynard Ferguson yesterday. You are TOTALLY FREAKING ME OUT, man.

  • mattbarr

    I think it would add a slight level of respectability (although not much) if you said you never heard Gotta Give It Up until you saw Boogie Nights, as opposed to Charlies Angels.  Good song though!  and happy birthday

  • Old Davy

    Fantastic chart, I remember it well.  I was just 16 and had my license for only a few weeks when these songs were hot.  Man, what a summer that was!  Really, the only song on this chart that I don’t like is "Lucille".  Did anybody else mock the chorus as "400 children" instead of "4 hungry children"?  I also spent countless hours listening to Casey and the AT40, obsessively writing the chart down and tracking the songs as they made their way up and down.  Can I join your dork club, Jason?

  • wow, what a week. i was 12 that year and bought the single "southern nights". when i flipped it, the b-side was a ROUSING rendition of the william tell overture. best b side ever. anyone have that? i havent heard it since mom tossed out my records when she moved…….

  • David

    Leo Sayer – get this man a miner’s helmet, he’s diggin’ for mellow gold!

    I picture him, all soot-faced, sitting next to Randy VanWarmer, slowly chewing a sandwich pulled from a big metal lunchbox.

    Randy’s playing wood blocks.

  • Old Davy

    Allen, I also dug the b-side of "Southern Nights".  I don’t think I have the 45 anymore.    Glen was a very underrated guitar player.  I had the pleasure of seeing him play live in a very intimate venue just a few years ago, and although his voice was shot, he played a mean guitar.

  • OMG! Maynard Ferguson!  The man was freakin awesome!  He must have had lips of steel.  I never thought I’d see his name mentioned here…

  • J

    Happy belated!  I’m old enough that that damn Lucille…I remember when it was popular, and it sucked then, and it sucks now, and if only it weren’t now stuck in my head, I’d  be a much happier person.  It’s probably going to take a pick ax to get it out.  Or, Leo Sayer. Whichever is less painful.  I’m leaning toward the pick ax.

  • J

    Wait…I really like Hotel California…maybe I can get that one stuck in my head instead…wish me luck.

  • Dave P

    “Think of him as KISS, but with actual talent.”

    Wow. Clearly, you’re no fan of “Lick It Up.”

  • Alright, putting the smart-ass in the back room for this one. "Sir Duke" and the entire "Songs In The Key Of Life" album(s) is/are awesome/awesomes. The thing is rampant with hits, and even those that aren’t are pretty great. And for my money, "Love’s In Need Of Love Today" is a hit that didn’t happen, but darn well could have. I feel so… so unlike myself today… (farts audibly). Ah, that’s the stuff. DwD

  • Pasta

    Rob Zombie covered ‘I’m your Boogie Man’ and gave it a whole new meaning.

  • So Fleetwood Mac was recording next door to Sly and the Family Stone? That’s interesting. I’m guessing Sly was recording “Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back” (back with subpar songs, that is, but you can’t win ‘em all; that album should be reissued by Sony like the Family Stone’s first seven, and so should 1975’s Sly-only album “High on You,” which I’ve never gotten a chance to hear beyond two songs).

    I heard Allen Toussaint’s version of “Southern Nights” recently, and it’s pretty terrific. Dreamier than Campbell’s version, although Campbell’s isn’t bad.

    I wonder how many Frank Stallone songs are featured in his brother’s movies. The most famous is “Far from Over,” from “Staying Alive,” right? Jason, if you and Jeff ever do another “Lost Soundtrack Classics,” find a way to interview Frank. From what I’ve seen, he has a sense of humor about his music, but I really do like “Far from Over.” As for “Gonna Fly Now,” it does seem impossible not to get pumped up by that song. The Conti version, that is. The Ferguson version is a little too dated for my tastes, but since I love ’70s music, no harm done. (Confession of my own: I’d never heard of Maynard Ferguson before today. But apparently he’s essential.)

    You don’t like any Kiss songs, Jason? I bought “Greatest Kiss” in ‘99. I think the description of their music as “baby-food metal” is probably accurate (I say “probably” because I don’t listen to metal), but despite all the talk over the years about them being more concerned with spectacle than songcraft, they really do have some memorable hooks and melodies: “Strutter,” “Hard Luck Woman,” “Do You Love Me,” “I Love It Loud,” etc. If you can still find the bootleg compilation of Paul Stanley stage banter called “People, Let Me Get This Off My Chest” (megaupload.com doesn’t seem to have it anymore), I highly recommend it. It’s fascinating and funny. Well, not all of it, but most of it — a man can only take so many 30-second sound bites spread out over 70 minutes. Plus it’s too bad the bootleg doesn’t contain any vintage Starchild banter from the ’70s; from what I can tell, all of the tracks are from the reunion tours. One more Kiss-related item, because I love this piece of writing that I found on a blog last year: go to http://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?boardid=41&threadid=46494 and use the “find” function to locate Adam Woodrow’s name.

    Alright, back to the songs at hand. “Got to Give It Up” can also be heard in “Menace II Society” during the scene featuring Samuel L. Jackson, I believe. I don’t think I heard it until 1994, during my freshman year of college. If it makes you feel better, Jason, I didn’t see “The Goonies” until I was 27, and I’ve almost been threatened with violence because of it. (I’ve probably mentioned that before, but why make one of my extra-long comments a few lines shorter? That’s not how I do things.)

    When I was younger I really liked “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.” My favorite Leo Sayer memory is probably from the 1993 April Fool’s Day “clip show” episode of “The Simpsons,” in which Bart cranks up the thermostat in the house to force Homer to grab a beer from the fridge; as the temperature rises, we see the kids’ goldfish float to the top of its bowl and the parents’ LPs start to melt, one of the LPs being Sayer’s “Endless Flight” (coincidentally, Sly and the Family Stone’s “Fresh” features Sly on the cover in a mid-air pose).

    “Sir Duke” is a classic, and Stevie is a wonder.

  • jhensy

    Nah, sorry, this chart blew. Those were the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac songs that EVERYBODY gushed over, went straight to #1, Rolling Stone orgasming, etc. And me?… meh. From the very first listen to the 10,000,000th, I’ve never, ever gotten into those two cuts. Don Henley is a whiny misanthrope.
       And God does that Leo Sayer song suck.
       Am I the only one that knew Kenny Rogers from his proto-infomercial from the early 70’s for the "Quick-Picking, Fun-Strumming" guitar lesson course? This was all over TV circa 1971-72, and when he hit it big later it was like "Hey, it’s that TV guitar-lesson dude!"

  • Disa

    My dearest J.
    Happy happy birthday boy.  Sorry how late I am writing this, but better late than never haha.:)  Just can´t belive that you just turned 30 years old my sweet J.  Still remember you as 13 years old when  like it was yesterday he he he:).  Say hi to Jess for me and  everybody.  Love D.

  • (Disa…..you’re embarrassing me in front of the others!  Sheeeeeesh.  Love you too and thanks for stopping by!)

  • Disa

    sorry J he he he.:):)

  • "Am I the only one that knew Kenny Rogers from his proto-infomercial from the early 70’s for the "Quick-Picking, Fun-Strumming" guitar lesson course? This was all over TV circa 1971-72, and when he hit it big later it was like "Hey, it’s that TV guitar-lesson dude!"  Can’t say that I do, but the visions of old, chubby, chicken-slinger country singer by day, dashing, mysterious, flamenco-playing ESTEBAN! by night gave me a chuckle.  DwD

  • BD

    Funny that you mention Christine McVie’s reluctance to record Dreams and then show a YouTube clip that goes a good three minutes with barely a glimpse of her.

    It’s a good song. Really. Good vocal hook, tasteful guitar work as usual.

    One thing I can’t remember — in the Saturday Night Live sketch with Stevie Nicks opening a Mexican restaurant, does she sing "Now there you go again, you say you want burritos" or "fajitas"?

  • Elaine

    The thing I always wonder whenever I hear "Dreams" is why was Stevie so nasal that day?  All the cocaine, or did she have a nasty headcold?  If there’s a story about hurriedly recording the song in a studio rented by someone else, maybe it explains it.  But she’s so nasal she sounds like a little kid.

  • I, too am guilty of loving Southern Nights.  I also liked Country Boy.  But Glen Campbell is from my home state.I love what you had to say about Sir Duke – it is SO appropriate for that song, and you are right about it making a person smile. 

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  • Belated happies, etc.
    Maynard Ferguson factoid: He played on the soundtrack for "The Ten Commandments."
    Back in El Paso, a troubadour came up with a more realitic refrain for "Lucille": "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille…You BITCH. You SLUT. You WHORE….Four hungry children and…"
    I kind of hope my old notebooks with the weekly Top 40 jotted down never resurface.

  • Elaine

    Oh yeah — about Lucille.  He’s apparently a lackluster farmer and doesn’t understand the concept of birth control.  She didn’t make him look small.  He’s the one following her into bars, creating whiny scenes with her potential hookups.  Just let that ho go!  Then, though the singer slinked up to her as she took off her wedding ring, in the end, he doesn’t sleep with her.  Which was probably considered totally whack, freewheelin’ times being what they were.  I mean, they’d already rented the room.

  • Winona

    The music of the 70’s was great!
    And you are not the only dork!  I’ve been to 4 or 5 Maynard Ferguson concerts, starting when I was in High School in the 70’s.  He was an awesome trumpet player and his band was great.  Check out his other work and you will find some excellent jazz and big band music.
    Oh, and I must mention that Donny Osmond has a WONDERFUL new album out now, "Love Songs of the 70’s" and it is the best.  His voice has only gotten better through the years.  Check out some samples of the CD on http://www.Donny.com

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