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LIGHTHOUSE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Canada


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Lighthouse biography
Canadian brass rock band LIGHTHOUSE were formed in Toronto 1969. Unusually, the band leader Ronn "Skip" Prokop (born 13 December 1946 in Ontario) was a drummer, he has played previously with artists such as Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana and Al Kooper before forming his first band THE PAUPERS. Of these, the Kooper connection is probably the most significant, as the music of Lighthouse is based around a solid brass section and big arrangements, similar to those of BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS and CHICAGO (TRANSIT AUTHORITY).

Prokop's ambitions were made clear from the outset when the first line up of Lighthouse had no less than 11 members. The were quickly picked up by RCA Victor, who release the bands self titled debut in 1969. Further albums followed quickly, but the punningly titled "Peacing it all together", their third release, would see the end of their relationship with RCA.

The move to GRT records coincided with the recruitment of vocalist Bob McBride, whose contribution to the fourth album "One fine morning" proved to be a commercial turning point for the band. The album spawned the bands first two hit singles, including the striking title track.

Prokop's penchant for jazz/fusion and classical music led to a number of live collaborations with orchestras which, when combined with the band's appearances at a number of high profile pop/rock festivals (they declined an offer to appear at Woodstock though), meant Lighthouse's fortunes continued in the ascendancy. Perhaps realising letting the band go had been a touch premature, RCA quickly put together a compilation of the material they still owned in 1971, in the form of the rather cheekily titled "One fine light" compilation. The following year, the band's first live album, the superb "Lighthouse live" was released, becoming Canada's first platinum selling album.

Singer Bob McBride would leave the band after the release of the "Sunny days" album, a time which in retrospect was the beginning of the end for the band in both commercial and creative terms. Despite the fact that it was on reality his band, Prokop left in 1974 after the next album "Good day". The rest of the band soldiered on for a while, but the soul of the band had gone, and they eventually bowed to the inevitable and split in 1976.

In 1993, the band reunited for a tour and a new album "Song of the ages". The album was not very well received by fans of the band, who felt it failed to capture the magic o...
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Best of LighthouseBest of Lighthouse
Import · Remastered
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$5.75
$5.59 (used)
Sunny DaysSunny Days
Import
Edsel Records UK 2001
Audio CD$29.92 (used)
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LIGHTHOUSE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

LIGHTHOUSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 9 ratings
Lighthouse
1969
3.92 | 7 ratings
Suite Feeling
1969
3.11 | 9 ratings
Peacing It All Together
1969
3.60 | 19 ratings
One Fine Morning
1971
3.85 | 7 ratings
Thoughts Of Moving On
1971
3.15 | 8 ratings
Sunny days
1972
2.41 | 10 ratings
Can you feel it
1973
4.00 | 3 ratings
Good day
1974
3.33 | 3 ratings
Song of the ages
1996

LIGHTHOUSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.15 | 7 ratings
Lighthouse Live
1972

LIGHTHOUSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

LIGHTHOUSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
One fine light
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Best of Lighthouse
1974
3.50 | 2 ratings
Sunny days again, The best of
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
40 Years Of Sunny days
2009

LIGHTHOUSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Feel So Good
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Take It Slow (Out In The Country)
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Hats Off (To The Stranger)
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
You Girl
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Can You Feel It
1974

LIGHTHOUSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 One Fine Morning by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 19 ratings

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One Fine Morning
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm not sure which cover is the original one, but the Prog Temple reissue CD I have sports a Roger Dean (like?) creation both on the front and back. A very phallic protrosion juts skyward with several oriffices in the top. In a way, I think the cover here on PA suits the music better.

This is Lighthouse's fourth studio album and it features new lead vocalist Bob McBride as well as a leaner line-up, down to 11 members. The initial concept for Lighthouse was a rock band that included both brass and strings, and the roster first included 13 names. By this album, only seven of the original members remained, but the music here would make this album the band's most succesful, even scoring them a #24 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. with the title track, which also reached #2 in Canada.

Comparisons to Blood, Sweat and Tears are easy to make, but I'm not so familiar with that band's music and so I feel there are more similarities to Chicago, mostly because the brass gets featured on every song while the strings (violin, viola, and cello) don't seem to appear very often. Either that or they are lost in the mix. Because of the upbeat and grooving and swinging nature of the a few of the songs, I can't help but think about the soundtrack to the movie version of "Hair". In one song I can picture everyone with the arms outstretched and palms to the sky, singing in unison while their bell-bottoms sway.

The album has a decent blend of music with upbeat, brass-blasted songs to slower, mellower tunes where the strings crop up. It's a period piece for sure sounding very 1971, which you can hear in songs like "Sing, Sing, Sing" and "Show Me the Way" as well as the title track. I'll admit that this is not the kind of album I will usually buy; however in my quest to discover Canadian prog of the seventies, it was inevitable that Lighthouse would have to come into my CD collection. Not that this is a solid work of progressive rock. By and large, this is an album of three to four-minute songs in standard format. One may wonder what this band could have achieved had they done something like Uriah Heep's "Salisbury". Instead the songs are pretty normal for 1971, I guess, except that there are so many instruments played in the one band. I think that the guitars and drums are used mostly for rhythm and piano for colour while brass is for punch and strings for that gentle touch when needed. The vocals have that powerful white soul holler though often a chorus of voices sings the refrain and even lines in the verses.

It's more or less an album like what you'd expect from such a large band and it is well-put together. Punchy songs are followed by more mellower pieces and mellow songs are followed by something more uplifting. The finale "Lullaby" is a beautful number with acoustic guitar, flute and strings and the brass comes in for some emotive lines delivered nobly and wonderfully by the trumpet. It's a song I had to let play to the end tonight when I arrived at my house after walking home from the train station, so enchanting was the music.

Well, I'm not likely to rush out and order another Lighthouse album any time soon, but giving this one my full attention in preparation for the review, I think I came to appreciate it more. Not overly progressive but active music with a lot of great sounds.

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 Lighthouse by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.72 | 9 ratings

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Lighthouse
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by vingaton

4 stars Lighthouse had a big big sound for its time, it seemed to be all things to everyone: serious arrangements/fun grooves,pop/folk, harmonies/stinging leads, sweeping granduer/hard-ass rock. You could take your mom to the show, but feel none the geekier for it. It was truly a Canadian institution, but this raw almost unknown record is where it all started. Still, I bet there are few Canadians who have heard this particular record let alone know who Pinky Dauvin is. At the time of this LP, their first release, there were few bands as democratic as Lighthouse, regardless of the seemingly huge size of the group. I was shocked and excited when they played our Highschool Auditorium back in the fall of 1969. As far as my buddies and I were concerned there had never been a band like this before. They wailed, they chirped, they blasted, and besides, these thirteen guys barely fit on the stage together.

Mountain Man, the opening track, is a true hippy anthem, and might just be Lighthouse's finest tune. Not to say it was all downhill from there by any means, but this tune shows a balanced band, earnestly working together to create a beautiful cacaphony. Just listen to the way Ralph Cole's guitar screams amid the honking sea of horns. At this time Lighthouse was like a highschool band, but the best one you have ever heard in your life. Lighthouse before Bob Mcbride was a far less poppy affair and Mountain Man really shows off Lighthouse's collective chops. You may want to note however that this old RCA release does suffer from muddy production values at times. Some of the tunes sound very dated today.

Consequently, you might think that The Byrds' Eight Miles High would be innapropriate for such a large-scale group. However, Lighthouse tears it up in a bold punchy rendition that must have surely given fellow Toronto boy David Clayton Thomas and his song- stealing BS&T crew some pause for thought. On the flip-side of this bombasity, Marsha Marsha is a pleasant little ditty. The real barnburner on this groundbreaking record is their version of Richie Havens' No Opportunity Necessary.

The first Lighthouse record has been largely ignored, even by fans, but I would suggest that they pull it out and give it a spin for old times sake. I bet you will be surprised. Seeing this awesome band live back in the late sixties was a thrill, and it made my Torontonian heart proud as a young lad. I am very glad to see them recognized here in these amazing archives.

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 Can you feel it by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.41 | 10 ratings

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Can you feel it
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Comfortably numb

With the departure of lead singer Bob McBride and founding keyboard player Paul Hoffert, Lighthouse slimmed down to a mere nine piece outfit for "Can you feel it". In came sax player and vocalist Dale Hillary, Hoffert not being directly replaced. It was though the absence of Hoffert which was the more significant, such had been his input to previous albums in terms of song- writing and arrangements.

Ralph Cole and Skip Prokop write all the songs here with the exception of Dale Hillary's "No more searching". They do not however write as a team, the tracks working out as roughly alternating between them.

The general feel of the album is that it is under produced and arranged. The brass and strings on which the band's sound has leaned so heavily are largely anonymous and underemployed here. "Same train" for example is a decent song with a pleasant melody, but it feels understated and undistinguished. "Magic's in the dancing" is a very ordinary song, but does contain some fine electric viola played by Don DiNovo on his unusual 5 string viola. The albums did produce a further hit single "Pretty lady". This extremely catchy pop song will sound frustratingly familiar to anyone who hears it. It one of those songs you recognise but have no idea who it was by.

A couple of the principal shortcomings of "Can you feel it" are demonstrated on the title track. Compared to those of Bob McBride, the lead vocals are weak while the song itself is orientated too much towards the "get up and dance" commercial market.

Prokop's "Lonely hours" is one of the best tracks on the album being a slower blues, almost lounge like, song with smooth sax and some pleasant strings. Dale Hillary's "No more searching" only serves to demonstrate why he was only allowed to contribute one track to the album, this being a rather messy country rock tinged affair.

"Can you feel it" is not a bad album. It does however have the feel of a band who have simultaneously lost key members and are running out of ideas.

The album is long for an LP, running to over 47 minutes. In the main, this does not affect the sound quality but a producers note on the sleeve does recommend increasing the volume to compensate. The album came with a full size poster showing the mug- shots of the band members. Needless to say my poster is still safely concealed within the LP sleeve!

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 Sunny days by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.15 | 8 ratings

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Sunny days
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars The clouds are gathering

After a well earned layoff to recharge the batteries, during which the superb "Lighthouse live" album was released, the band returned in late 1972 with "Sunny days". The reunion however proved in some ways to be a false dawn. After a promotional tour for the album keyboard Paul Hoffert would leave the band due to burn out, and singer Bob McBride would also leave by mutual agreement. McBride's problems with substance abuse were having an adverse impact on his contribution to the band. He went on to record solo albums, but sadly he was unable to shake himself of his addiction and died in 1998.

As the title suggests though, "Sunny days" is a positive, optimistic album. Side one has two hit singles, the title track and "You girl", plus the highly commercial "Silver bird". "Silver bird" is an upbeat toe-tapper with strong harmonies and good guitar work, while "Sunny days" has a strong laid-back-summer feel, and distinctly retro atmosphere. The song is written by band leader Skip Prokop, who dominates the writing on the first side. By the time we get to "You girl", which opens with "Well I don't care if it's a cloudy day..", it starts to feel like just a little too much effort is being made to convey overtly positive messages.

The mood changes suddenly for the blues based "Beneath my woman", although the lyrics are still positive. The track features an inspired sax solo with a sympathetic arrangement. The side closes with another reflective song "Merlin", the only song on the album where Bob McBride is involved in the writing.

"Broken guitar blues" which opens side two is Ralph Cole's satirical tale of how his guitar got damaged on a flight when the crew insisted on putting it in the hold. Clealry it was not damage too badly, as the guitar work on the track is exemplary! Howard Shore's "Letter home", which appears to sing himself, has the sound of a Neil Young "Harvest" type song.

"You give me" is the strongest piece on the album, starting as a slow power rock song of the type which dominated the second side of "Thoughts of moving on" before developing into a fast paced sequence of lead guitar followed by brass then keyboards. Larry Smith's arrangement of his own composition here is bold and compelling. The album closes with Paul Hoffert's "Lonely places", a song which attempts to explain why he needs to leave the band at this point. Ironically, the song is not a depressive ballad, but a strong up-tempo bras driven rocker.

"Sunny days" was to all intents and purposes the last great album by Lighthouse. While many of the songs err towards simplicity in structure, there is plenty in the way of strong arrangements and inspired performances.

In the UK, the album was only the second to be released on the newly formed Mooncrest record label, the first being Nazareth's "Razamanaz".

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 Lighthouse Live by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Live, 1972
4.15 | 7 ratings

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Lighthouse Live
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars One fine evening

Lighthouse's sole live album was recorded in 1972 in Carnegie Hall, New York. As such, it sits between the "Thoughts of moving on" and "Sunny days" studio albums. The majority of the tracks are taken from "Thoughts of moving on" and "One fine morning", the two albums recorded for their then current label GTR. The recordings were initially intended only for radio broadcast, but such was the positive reaction, both from the band and from those who heard the tapes, that they became this live double LP. The release, the first platinum selling album ever in Canada, also served as a stopgap album, allowing the band to take time off to recharge their collective batteries.

It is the brass arrangements which steal the show throughout the album. Lighthouse were perhaps guilty of not fully exploiting the orchestra their line up boasted on their studio albums. Such a charge cannot be made here.

The excitement of the evening is palpable right from the start, the ten plus two man line up clearly being intent on capturing their initially quite restrained audience. "Old man" is the first track to be given a real dusting down, the lengthy brass then slower strings passages developing the track well beyond the studio arrangement.

The band's most successful singles "Take it slow" and "One fine morning" appear back to back, these live versions giving both tracks an extra edge. Those two tracks together with the frantic "Insane" make up side two of the album, the most upbeat of the four. Incidentally, the four sides of the LP are brief, the album running for around an hour, the length of the radio show. If side two was the rock side, side three is the melodic power side. Just two tracks occupy the side, "1849" an epic tale of settlers heading west, and a nine minute version of "You and me". The vocals on the latter give the impression that fellow Canadian Neil Young has wandered on stage, such is the similarity. This beautiful ballad from "Thoughts of moving on" is enhanced further here by the live arrangement, especially on the later instrumental section. "Sweet lullabye" is another soft number which features the band's string section and some sweet falsetto vocals.

The album closes with a 13 minute version of the Byrds "Eight miles high". As with the Byrds version on "Untitled", the song is largely an excuse for extended improvisation, although would I hesitate to use the word jam, this is clearly a well rehearsed rendition. The song does however give the band the chance to let their hair down, Lighthouse's interpretation displaying clearly the character of the band.

In summary, this is a fine live album. It captures a band at the top of their game on a night when everything came together at the right time. Recommended.

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 Thoughts Of Moving On by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.85 | 7 ratings

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Thoughts Of Moving On
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars It does exactly what it says on the tin

"Thoughts of moving on" was the first album I bought by Lighthouse, way back in the early 1970's. It quickly become a personal favourite, the strong harmonies and exciting use of a full brass section of this Canadian outfit offering a unique alternative to the music then being made by British bands.

The album neatly spits in two halves, with side one generally containing the upbeat numbers, and side two the ballads and powerful slower songs.

The opening "Take it slow" was released as a reasonably successful single in the US and Canada, the strong hook making it the obvious choice. "Fly my aeroplane", "Rockin' chair" and "What gives you the right" continue the upbeat radio friendly pop rock sound the band had adopted for the previous album ("One fine morning"). "I just wanna be your friend" was also released as a single, the Three Dog Night like harmonic arrangement making for an instantly appealing, if largely unchallenging song.

"Walk me down" sees the pace drop for this delicate ballad with lush mellotron orchestration. The late Bob McBride's vocal here is one of the finest he recorded during his time with the band. The track sets the mood for much of the second side, which has the longer, generally slower songs. "You and me" is another reflective ballad with good keyboard work and a CSNY sound. The track plays out with some nice flute.

If side was primarily upbeat, with one ballad, side two's softer atmosphere is interrupted by the Russ Ballard like "Insane". "I'd be so happy" is a wonderful power ballad which the aforementioned Three Dog Night truncated and included on their "Hard Labor" album. The strong song writing here is complemented by a superb arrangement. The album closes with "I'm gonna try to make it", another reflective piece featuring a strong brass arrangement and melodic harmonies.

"Thoughts of moving on" does exactly what it says on the tin. It finds Lighthouse moving in a more commercial direction while retaining their emphasis on strong arrangements and tight performances. While the album does not offer anything particularly challenging it does represent a highly enjoyable experience.

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 One Fine Morning by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 19 ratings

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One Fine Morning
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars One fine album

In retrospect, it seems surprising that this superb album came so early in the career of Lighthouse. A change of record label and the arrival of new lead singer Bob McBride combined with the appointment of producer Jimmy Lenner all gave the band the sense of direction the so needed so badly. "One fine morning" is a supremely confident album, filled with tight jazz rock based songs.

"Love of a woman" kicks things off in fine upbeat style, the brass section driving McBride's strong vocals forward. McBride's style is similar to that of Blood Sweat and Tears' David Clayton-Thomas, although his voice is usually slightly gruffer. "Little kind words" belies that gruffness though, this tastefully soft track having a delightful melody and some fine harmonies. The arrangement on this track is particularly striking.

"Old man" sets out as a fairly conventional pop based song before the brass section lifts the pace, introducing a lengthy instrumental workout for the entire 11 man line up. "1849" tells the tale of a wagon train headed for the California gold rush in that year.

Two singles were taken from the album appearing consecutively here. The title track "One fine morning" is a wonderful BS&T like fast paced number. The song has strong harmonies and a great feel good atmosphere, with superb guitar work driven ever higher by the brass arrangement. "Hat's off (to the stranger)" also has a BS&T feel, but focuses on the slower big production sound.

"One fine morning" is an excellent collection of jazz rock songs. The album does not contain the improvisations or extended soloing of previous releases, these being replaced by an altogether tighter approach. As such, the prog aspects are less obvious here than on other Lighthouse releases. That aside though, the music is supremely melodic, and the performances of the extended line up uniformly excellent.

The Repertoire records CD re-release contains three additional tracks. Two of these are simply single edits of tracks on the album. The third, "Take it slow (out in the country)" is a single edit of the opening track from the following "Thoughts of moving on" album.

The Vertigo release of the album came complete with a superb Roger Dean illustration of a Lighthouse formation.

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 Suite Feeling by LIGHTHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.92 | 7 ratings

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Suite Feeling
Lighthouse Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars It's my band, and I'm going to slip a drum solo in while the 13 of you watch!

Lighthouse's second album (which seems to have also born the title "Plays for peace" on at least one version) was released in 1969, a year after their debut. The sound is that of a band who are full of potential, but are still trying to find their identity and direction.

With a line up consisting of no less than 14 members including five strings players and a four man brass section, it would be reasonable to expect to be presented with an album of orchestral rock. The opening track "Chest fever" however quickly indicates that this is in fact a rock album with pop overtones. The track has a jazz rock basis, with some fine organ work by Paul Hoffert, one of the long term core members of the band. Along with drummer and band leader Skip Prokop, Hoffert is the band's principal songwriter. "Feel so good" moves further towards pop, with melodic harmonies and an upbeat melody. Pinky Dauvin's lead vocals are complemented by some excellent lead guitar played by Ralph Cole.

It is only when we get to the lengthy, bizarrely named "Places on faces four blue carpet traces" that we come to the essence of the band. This is a much looser jazz based improvisation which sees the brass section taking centre stage. Prokop feels the need to assert his status as band leader with a superfluous drum solo before Hoffert's keyboards reassert the need for a musical structure. The track then develops through a classical/jazz section with all the band members seemingly contributing. While the brass section invites comparisons with BLOOD SWEAT and TEARS and CHICAGO, the string section gives the piece a generally softer feel. Cole's guitar work is once again a highlight of the track. Drum solo notwithstanding, this track is surely one of the highlights of the album.

"Could you be concerned" returns to the lighter side, but the apparent pop sound disguises a highly intricate piece, with lush harmonies and a complex arrangement. The same can be said of the reflective "Presents of presence" where the echoed vocals are very effectively placed back in the mix allowing the delights of instrumental backing to be heard. "Taking a walk" has the feel of being a precursor to "One fine morning", a superb song which would be recorded a year later. The track includes a tasteful instrumental middle section. "Eight loves of bread" and "What sense" are similar anthemic songs along the lines of the Band's "The weight", with a positive lyrics and a high feel good factor. "What sense" has an especially notable arrangement, exploiting the full diversity of the line up.

The album closes with a cover of the Beatles "A day in the life". While the version here is faithful to the original the band successfully stamp their identity upon it. The brass fanfare after "Somebody spoke and I went into a dream" is particularly effective. A coda of "Also sprach zarathusa" is added to the end of the track.

In all, a confident second album which, while arguably struggling to find a clear direction shows the band are willing to experiment with a number of styles and sounds. Recommended.

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Thanks to easy livin for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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