Roll away the stone.

Just one “American Idol” pop-culture note before we get to the meaty stuff: Kellie Pickler has passed her sell-by date, and in fact did so several weeks ago. She is starting to stink up the room. Also, as though I needed even more evidence that I am 12,000 years old, Elliott Yamin referred to “A Song for You” as a Donny Hathaway song, and no one corrected him. That’s because only six graybeards in the audience watching at home could say, with authority, that it’s a Leon Russell song.

Reader, I have the album. Recorded in 1969, when I was just starting to pay attention to such things. (I bought it for “Roll Away the Stone,” which I distinctly recall hearing first on prog-rock radio, more proof that I’m older than Lazarus. Radio playing obscure Leon Russell? That’s crazy talk!)

I wonder if Leon watches “American Idol.” I wonder what he thought when he heard one of his best songs assigned to a performer, not a songwriter. And what’s Leon up to these days? Of course Professor Google knows. Speaking of graybeards…

Oh, but I have to stop talking about the music of my youth. It’s just a straight shot from here to the iTunes Music Store, to spend away Kate’s college fund. I’m way too suggestible about these things. Do you know that after a Sopranos episode wrapped up with a Pink Floyd song a few weeks ago, I immediately ran over there and downloaded it? I did — “One of These Days.” Which isn’t a terrible song, but I sort of have a wall up between myself and Pink Floyd, which has been there since I gave away my copy of “Dark Side of the Moon” and vowed that if I never heard it again for all eternity, I still would have heard it once too often. “One of These Days” is from “Meddle,” but still. I was never much of a Pink Floyd fan; the band always seemed to be solid evidence that marijuana really was a dangerous drug. A gateway drug, in fact — it led to Pink Floyd records.

Did I say meaty stuff was following? Well, I lied. Bloggage is following:

Who has the best corrections in the newspaper business? I’d nominate The Guardian: We said that the vertical drop of the Stealth ride at Thorpe Park was the fourth steepest in the world (Crowds force closure of theme park, page 11, April 17). Nothing can be steeper than vertical. What was meant was that the launch acceleration – 0-80mph in 2.3 seconds – was the fourth fastest.

What do firefighters do when they’re not fighting fires? Sometimes they pull naked guys out of chimneys. Jon Carroll explains.

Some weeks back, after Rosa Parks was laid to rest, there was some disapproving talk about how the niches nearby in her Detroit mausoleum were suddenly carrying much larger price tags; apparently the rule of “location, location, location” applies after death, too. Well, time has wielded its scythe and Mrs. Parks has a new neighbor. And as they say, there goes the neighborhood.

More later. Discuss.

Posted at 9:28 am in Media, Popculch |

38 responses to “Roll away the stone.”

  1. Carmella said on April 26, 2006 at 9:36 am

    We went to a Leon Russell concert in the fall of ’04 in an empty field in Corunna Indiana. He came out using a cane. His words were hard to understand, but he can still pound the piano! He played for a good 2 hours, and when he was done, he got up and left. He didn’t waste any time hob-nobbing with his fans. It was great! I told my husband that was indeed a Leon Russell song (on Idol), not a Donny Hathaway song. Geesh…. Yes, Kellie Pickler is gone like yesterday.

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  2. Dave said on April 26, 2006 at 10:13 am

    You were probably listening to WCOL FM, back when those stations could play whatever the jock wanted to play. Yeah, those were the days for radio, all gone.

    First heard of Leon when he was part of something called Asylum Choir, a studio group, I’m sure, possibly circa 1967 or 68, learned of him from a record review. IIRC, the cover had Asylum Choir written across a roll of toilet paper.

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  3. nancy said on April 26, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Dave, that is, indeed, what I was listening to. (Sigh.)

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  4. Randy said on April 26, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Remember when Elliott said he’d never heard of Queen until the week they sang their songs?

    That’s today’s pop star – unburdened by the “baggage” of musical tradition.

    Ace’s fans could not believe that Brian May would have the nerve to say “no” when Ace asked to re-arrange “We Will Rock You”.

    After all, Brian May is a has-been, and Ace is a potential superstar… Well, not anymore. Oops.

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  5. mary said on April 26, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Same reaction here when he called it a Donny Hathaway song. At least he didn’t call it a Karen Carpenter song. She recorded it too. Leon Russel’s lyrics always had one or two bits that were a little quirky and intriguiging and made you listen more carefully the next time you heard the song.

    What do you think about Tony Snow’s new job? Can’t wait to see what press conferences will be like.

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  6. alex said on April 26, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Randy, I couldn’t agree with you more. Today’s so-called artists are also unburdened with the “baggage” of classical training, which is what made so many great acts of yesteryear so original, so outstanding. You can’t break the rules unless you know them in the first place. Blood, Sweat and Tears is one example that comes to mind. (“You Make Me So Very Happy” was rattling around in my head yesterday.)

    Leon Russell is the second cousin of one of my best friends, whose parents grew up in Oklahoma. Now that’s someone I’d go see in concert. I pass through Corunna all the time on my way to the lakes and wish I’d known about his performance there, but that was probably back when I was still living in Chicago.

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  7. Carmella said on April 26, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Alex, do you ever stop at Albrights in Corunna (famous for their meat!!) Well, it was their big anniversary and they are huge Leon fans, so they threw a little party for the town folk. It was surreal. I had seen him 25 yrs earlier at the FW Coliseum…then in a Corunna cornfield!

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  8. brian stouder said on April 26, 2006 at 11:14 am

    Mary – I think Snow made a shrewd move. First, his on-air poise and polish will give him the immediate boost of being an improvement over Scott McClellan (who seems to have all the flair of a slightly incompetent algebra teacher).

    Second – he comes in halfway through the final term, so that he both escapes the worst (or what I dearly HOPE was the ‘worst’!) of the Bush-43 admin, and is positioned to bask in any upturn as the admin heads for the sunset (and he is a basker from way back!). As low as W-43 has gotten, an ‘upturn’ is almost inevitable, if only as a statistical correction….and any kind of GOP success in the ’06 midterms will look a little like the result of changes at the White House

    And finally – he (Snow) will get material enough for at least one book out of the deal, and he won’t need to pay for the services of a ghostwriter!

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  9. Kirk said on April 26, 2006 at 11:34 am

    of course, leon russell was a shindog, the house band on “shindig,” along with billy preston, glen campbell, the great delaney bramlett and a few others. russell’s work with delaney and bonnie was a long-ago favorite of mine.

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  10. Danny said on April 26, 2006 at 11:44 am

    For all of you who love the older groups, I too recently rediscovered Floyd after not having listened to them in years. I not sure if any of you know of the internet file sharing protocol called Bit Torrent, but I have been using it for legit reasons for a few months now and ended up getting involved with a file sharing community that specalizes in bootleg concerts that date back to the 1960’s. So far, I have about twenty concerts of older bands from which I already own everything commercially available and for which the groups at least give their tacit approval of sharing the non-commercial material that will never see the light of day (typically for reasons of quality). But I think the quality is fine, if raw. Many of these are sound board recordings and even the audience recordings are very good.

    Back to Floyd: I now have about five PF concerts ranging from 1970-1977. It is cool to hear old numbers like One of These Days, Fat Old Sun, Careful with that Axe (Eugene) done live. It has a very good vibe and reminds me of why I’ve always gravitated towards live recordings. One from 1977 of the Animals tour is superb. The extended jamming and interaction is wonderful. I really wish they had professionally recorded that tour and released it, because that was a great set list.

    Anyway, very cool stuff and there are literally thousands of concerts available, all encoded in lossless formats so as to have the best fidelity. And the community is very active in self-policing to ensure that commercial material is never posted.

    If any of you music lovers have an interest in this, let me know and I’ll try to help.

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  11. Danny said on April 26, 2006 at 11:46 am

    I don’t know if Tony Snow made a shrewd move, but it is definitely in the interest of the Bush administration to get him.

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  12. Randy said on April 26, 2006 at 11:52 am

    Alex, good point about having musical training. It’s hilarious when one of the real stars rehearses with them, and is able to say “go back four bars” or some other term that shows they can read, write and comprehend music.

    The Idolettes just kind of stand there, uncomprehending, uncaring, utterly ignorant of the craft – “when can I start yelling, I mean, singing?”

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  13. nancy said on April 26, 2006 at 11:53 am

    And Kirk brings up Delaney and Bonnie, unearthing yet another painful memory: One otherwise unremarkable night in 1979 or so, Bonnie Bramlett and Elvis Costello got into a fight in a hotel bar in downtown Columbus. (Elvis, drunk, had disparaged Ray Charles, allegedly using a racial slur; Bonnie, drunk, had risen to her feet and proclaimed that Brother Ray was a genius and one of her personal heroes, goddamnit. And they were off to the races. (The two bands were playing in different venues that night, but staying in the same hotel.)

    The police were called. I can’t remember if anyone was arrested, but it was written about in Rolling Stone.

    I was drinking in a bar maybe two blocks away, with a college friend, in the mistaken belief that I was sitting in the midst of history, because it was an old newspaper hangout. While music icons scuffled literally around the corner at a Holiday Inn on Town Street. Missed the whole thing.

    Story of my life.

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  14. brian stouder said on April 26, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    You missed it – but it isn’t lost on you .

    If I had been one of the other schlubs in the bar where the dust-up was, I would have been oblivious to the significance of it, altogether. (although I would have agreed with the person proclaiming the genious of Ray Charles, I wouldn’t have had any idea who she was).

    When a notweworthy thing happens, a real journalist possesses the ability to recognize and translates and encapsulate it, for all the schlubs (like me) who would otherwise miss it entirely – even if the event happened right before our eyes

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  15. mary said on April 26, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    I’m with you on Pink Floyd. I never owned a Pink Floyd album. Most of the people I knew who did were either high all the time, or were the sort who became comic book store guy on the Simpsons. I need a name for that kind of person, and I don’t have one. Anyway, my kids have gone through short periods of liking Pink Floyd, which I understnad is very common. They abandoned them faster than the other 60s and 70s band fixations they’ve had. I still hear Harvest and After the Gold Rush coming out of my older son’s room pretty often. Desmond Decker and the All Stars has been on the cd player lately too. Works for me.

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  16. MarkH said on April 26, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    Hey, Nancy, which was the hangout — the Galleria downstairs from The Dispatch, Leather Bottle, Bernie’s…??

    Are you sure it wasn’t the Holiday Inn up on campus instead of downtown? I used to tend bar there a few years before the “incident”, and that’s where a lot of the acts that performed at OSU stayed. Hard to believe Russell would diss Ray Charles in such a way.

    Delaney and THAT takes me way back. Bonnie still sounds great. If any of you ever catch a showing of “Vanishing Point” (1971) on tv, watch for Delaney and Bonnie and Friends in a featured role as a Jesus rock group, of all things.

    Amazing that my 17-year-old has been through a lot of ”60-’70’s groups, including Pink Floyd, for a time. He has stuck with Hendrix and Led Zepplin the longest. Go figure…

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  17. Jim said on April 26, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Wow, Carmella … hadn’t thought of Corunna in years. Used to stop at the little barber shop there on U.S. 6. What a great place. He wasn’t that good at cutting hair, but he was the friendliest guy. It was worth the price of a haircut for a few friendly minutes of chatter.

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  18. alex said on April 26, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    Carmella, yes I love Albright’s! I actually haven’t shopped there myself. I get invited to lake cottage parties where they have the most incredible deli foods and first-rate meats and cheese curds and things that come from there. I do occasionally stop at the little booze shack on the other side of the tracks on my way up, though.

    Re Pink Floyd, I wasn’t all that much into them as a kiddie, at least not enough to spend scarce money on them. Probably too stoned to care at the time. But now I have Dark Side of the Moon and regard it as one of my all-time fave albums.

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  19. Danny said on April 26, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    You’re not alone, Alex. DSotM is one of the best selling albums of all time. According to wikipedia, it spent 15 years on the Billboard 200 and it is the gold standard that audiophiles use to test high end audio equipment.

    Frankly, I haven’t been a big fan of Floyd since my teens. But through the discovery of the new live music, they are enjoying quite a renaissance in my playlist. Now I just have to get a larger capacity portable player that can handle these 1 GB lossless format concerts. What a sweet delima.

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  20. nancy said on April 26, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Russell didn’t insult Ray Charles, Elvis Costello did. (Supposedly. He later recanted.) And this all happened in the bar in the Holiday Inn on Town Street, which may not even exist anymore. I was in the State & Fourth, where the pressmen and others went for their coffee breaks.

    Bramlett’s Wikipedia entry — caveat emptor — gives this account, which is how I remember it being reported at the time:

    In the late ’70s, she toured with Stephen Stills, during which she gained some press notoriety for an incident with Elvis Costello at a Holiday Inn hotel bar in Columbus, Ohio. Costello referred to James Brown as a “jive-ass nigger,” then upped the ante by pronouncing Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant nigger.” Bramlett and friends had evidently been baiting Costello with derisive comments about British rock music in general and “sawed-off Limey”-type comments aimed at him in particular. A contrite Costello apologised at a New York City press conference a few days later, claiming that he had been drunk and had been attempting to be obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion, not anticipating that Bramlett would bring his comments to the press. According to Costello, “it became necessary for me to outrage these people with about the most obnoxious and offensive remarks that I could muster.” In his liner notes for the expanded version of Get Happy!!, Costello writes that some time after the incident he had declined an offer to meet Charles out of guilt and embarrassment, though Charles himself had graciously forgiven Costello (“Drunken talk isn’t meant to be printed in the paper”).

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  21. Connie said on April 26, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    All it took was the name Leon Russell to turn on his “Detour” duet with Willie Nelson in the soundtrack of my mind. And that album is somewhere in the two boxes of vinyl in the basement. Oldest album? The Monkees. Last 3 vinyl albums: Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, and Stray Cats.

    Remember “Wayne’s World”? And the great video of them in the car doing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody? The high school kids that worked for me at the time were talking about the video and were shocked to learn, first that some earlier rock band had done it, and second that boss lady owned their album.

    You know this is the second time in a couple of days I’ve mentioned a stoner movie. Shall we make it 3 and discuss “Dude, Where’s My Car?” Sweet.

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  22. MarkH said on April 26, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Costello, yes. Obviously, I read your post too fast, or typed mine too fast, or whatever :). It does make a little more sense, now.

    I was still in Columbus at the time, working in radio, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how I could have been so oblivious to this incident. Either that, or my 50+ brain just buried it. Do you suppose FOCUS magazine did a piece on it? Written by J.C. perhaps?

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  23. alex said on April 26, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    Regarding Tony Snow, he’s simply making a lateral career move by leaving Fox for the Bush White House as a spinmeister.

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  24. basset said on April 26, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    You would be amazed at the 60s records Leon Russell played on… Leon and Glen Campbell were on a good many Beach Boys hits, Campbell even toured as a Beach Boy for awhile.

    my 16-year-old son is a big Beatles fan, as are quite a few his age, I understand… we watched “Concert for Bangla Desh” and “Concert for George” the other night, and I started adding up how many of the “Bangla Desh” band were no longer living. Carl Radle, dead… Jesse Ed Davis, dead… George Harrison, dead… half of Badfinger, dead… surely there are others, just can’t think of ’em right at this minute.

    and a visitor in our house, close to my age, pointed out that “Bangla Desh” was “half a lifetime ago.”

    as indeed it was.

    If Nance is feeling old, though, I must be positively fossilized… have never seen “American Idol” and don’t care to, no idea who Kellie Pickler might be and based on what I see above I’m better off not knowing.

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  25. Danny said on April 26, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    I agree, but basset, might you be interested in something like the following:

    Yes, Le Colisee, Quebec City, PQ, Canada, April 18, 1979
    Yes, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ, USA, June 17, 1976
    Yes, Reunion Arena, Dallas, Texas, USA, September 27, 1980

    That last one is the Drama tour and is a not so hot audience recording, but definitely one of the best from that tour.

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  26. basset said on April 27, 2006 at 7:56 am

    definitely would be interested in the 1976 show… I think they were in their Trevor Horn/Geoff Downes period in 79/80, though, right?

    so explain to everyone how this file-sharing works and we’ll go try it.

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  27. Tracy said on April 27, 2006 at 9:26 am

    Carmella — I was at the Corunna concert, too. Wasn’t he great! You could tell on some songs that Leon’s voice had lost some of its punch (yes, even with his voice), but on others, he sounded as great as ever. He seemed to rely too much on canned computer music, which wasn’t necessary considering the great band he had, but those are quibbles. Leon playing his best songs to 400 people in a field, his daughters singing backup. It was great!

    RE Elvis, he was very young back then.

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  28. Carmella said on April 27, 2006 at 9:34 am

    Tracy, it WAS great! There was just something so…intimate about it!

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  29. Danny said on April 27, 2006 at 10:41 am

    In order to get bitTorrent working, do as follows:

    1) Download a free peice of client software. There are many of them out there. I have tried a few of them. My current favorite is “utorrent”. Go to and get that one.

    2) The absolute hardest part is the next step. After you install the software, to really make bitTorrent work, you have to set your computer to have a static IP address and you have to configure your router (assuming you have one) to allow port forwarding. There is a lot of places to go for help that explian just what to do for each OS and each router (by part number). One of the best places is at

    3) Next, find a file sharing community and join (very easy and free). The two I belong to are and There are other sites that don’t make you join and that have millions of torrents avaiable of every variety, including copywrited material like movies, books, tv shows, software, etc. I don’t mess with that (except I have downloaded an episode of 24 once when I forgot to record on the VCR). But for live music, the two I listed are great and they take requests too.

    Like I wrote, step 2 can be a pain, but it isn’t too bad and it is absolutely necessary because in order to be a good peer in a point-to-point (p2p) network, one has to be able to share parts of the files they download with other peers that need those parts. has a great primer on bitTorrent and that would be a great place to start for an overview of how it works.

    If worse comes to worst and you feel all of this is too much, email me and I can either help you further or just send you the concerts on disks through regular mail. (dfsmithjr at aol dot com)

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  30. basset said on April 27, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    It’s definitely too much. nobody over forty can do that kind of stuff.

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  31. Danny said on April 28, 2006 at 10:03 am

    Don’t sell yourself short. I’m over forty and I can do it. And I’m not an IT guy.

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  32. basset said on April 28, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    “…you have to set your computer to have a static IP address and you have to configure your router (assuming you have one) to allow port forwarding.”

    OK, if it’s so damn simple, walk through it with me from my point of view…

    I know what an IP address is.

    Don’t know where to find out what mine is, or how to configure it.

    That box over there is a router, no idea how to configure it or even where to start.

    Don’t know what port forwarding is.

    Sum of it all… any attempt on my part is doomed to failure… at which point I won’t be any closer to torrenting or whatever the hell you call it, and I get to be frustrated and embarrassed on top of it. Bad game, not gonna play it.

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  33. Danny said on April 28, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    OK, email me. I’ll send you the concerts in the regular US post. You will enjoy them, I think, and I really don’t mind. No cost associated, so don’t worry.

    Man, I almost had a heart attack today. Driving home, someone on the radio said that Steve Howe died in a car accident. Then they mentioned that it was the baseball pitcher.

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  34. basset said on April 28, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    OK… how do I get your address off this page? (while lurkers by the dozens send a flurry of emails offlist… “can you believe that idiot, not only can he not configure his router, he can’t even pull an address off this page…”)

    gonna see the more interesting Steve Howe Saturday night at a bar in Nashville, betcha he plays “Mood for a Day” at some point…

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  35. Danny said on April 29, 2006 at 10:23 am

    basset, as I wrote above, it is dfsmithjr at aol dot com. Replace the words with the appropriate symbols (I type it that way to keep spambots from scouring the net to harvest my email addy).

    Regarding the concert, have fun, I wish he was coming to California. I really love his playing. One of my prized possessions is a 1953 Martin OO-18 that is 14 serial numbers away from Steve’s. There is a very good chance that it was made by the same luthier. I haven’t practiced much lately, but I ‘ve played Mood for a Day since I was a teenager and I can play a pretty good approximation of Clap (I know all the notes, it’s just I can’t play it as cleanly as him at speed in a few places).

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  36. basset said on April 29, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    (while lurkers by the dozens send a flurry of emails offlist… “can you believe that idiot, not only can he not configure his router, he can’t even read…�?)

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  37. basset said on April 29, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    (while lurkers by the dozens send a flurry of emails offlist… “can you believe that idiot, not only can he not configure his router, he can’t even read…�?)

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  38. pink floyd said on May 30, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    D. bowie joined members of pink floyd on stage to perform 2 songs monday night! see the video, pictures and review at

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