Kevin Macleod

Scottish mandolin, resonator tenor guitar, bouzouki & tenor banjo

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Reviews for Coigach 1955

In 1955, Roddie Macleod, a local Coigach man, turned his camera on the ways of life in his own home area. He photographed the locals, many of whom were his close relations, friends and neighbours who undertook the annual tasks of crofting, shepherding, salmon fishing and provided the necessary local services.
These fine images capture the timeless cycles of hard work on the sea and land, and the resulting album was carefully annotated with his personal commentary on the ways of the close knit community that had changed little in his lifetime. Now, some 60 years later, much of what was seen in 1955 has disappeared, so it seems fitting to reveal these photographs to shed some fresh light on the life in Coigach in those days.

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Coigach 1955, £11.99

coigach-1955, 2016

Superb Black & White and Colour photography by Roderick Macleod, of the Coigach area in 1955. This beautifully illustrated, large format, 30 page, full colour A4 landscape book has been compiled and by Kevin Macleod and published privately in May 2016.

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Reviews for Rhu Beag

ALI BEAG MACLEOD, KEVIN MACLEOD, ALASDAIR FRASER, WILL MACLEAN
Rhu Beag Private Label BEAGCD004

Rewind 200 years, and the scene inside Springwell, Kevin MacLeod’s croft house in his native village of Achiltibuie would’ve been very different. Linoleum has replaced hard earth flooring, an open fire replaced by spotlights and the pot which hung over it by a gas cooker. The table round which the musicians sat - the heart of the cèilidh - would definitely not have come from Ikea.

What hasn’t changed is the music. On their newest release Rhu Beag, Kevin MacLeod, Ali “Beag” MacLeod, Alasdair Fraser and Will MacLean play melodies played, sung, shared and enjoyed around Achiltibuie kitchen tables for generations, shared between neighbours, friends and family members like a common language unique to the place.

Culkein Waltzes are named for a cove on the Assynt coastline. Those melodies, sung by previous generations of Achiltibuie locals, are hauntingly beautiful, particularly Cuir Culaibh ri Assainte. This music (on bagpipes, accordion, tenor guitar, mandolins and trump) is amazing far beyond its social and anthropological qualities - it’s a joy to listen to, filled with life and character. It’s easy to see why traditional material such as this inspires much innovative modern composition - its power as a source of inspiration re-enforcing its place in the constantly changing musical world.

Rhu Beag is a refreshing listen; a reminder that traditional music in this simple form can be as rewarding as some of the most innovative new music.

Joseph Peach

Rhu Beag “Rhu Beag” Own Label, 2015

A taste of traditional music from the far north west of Scotland, this relatively short CD unites four local musicians who play regularly together. Their music is natural, unpolished and unrefined, the genuine spontaneous product of Gaelic culture and good company. The region of Coigach looks across the Minch to the northern end of the Outer Hebrides, and inland to the fiddle and piping traditions of Lochaber and the central highlands. All of these combine on Rhu Beag’s recording: piper Alasdair Fraser, accordionist Ali Beag MacLeod, mandolin and guitar master Kevin MacLeod, and the distinctive jaw harp of Will MacLean.

From big pipe marches to beautiful Gaelic waltzes, jigs and reels to strathspeys and hornpipes, Rhu Beag present pretty much what you’d expect from a local west highland session or ceilidh. About the only thing missing is a double speed Canadian Barndance: Kevin’s mandolin solo on Old Toasty comes close, but switches into jig time for Roddie MacLeod of Polbain by Freeland Barbour, before finishing off with Lord MacDonald’s Reel. Among many familiar tunes, there are some distinctive marches and waltzes: The Ross-shire Volunteers, Lady Lever Park, and Ali Beag’s three Culkein Waltzes in particular. There’s great variety here in only twenty-five minutes, from bagpipe solos to band selections, plus some unusual reels and jigs including The Steamboat which I had only heard as a Canadian tune called Uncle Jim’s Jig. Rhu Beag certainly provides a good helping of highland music in its natural habitat.

© Alex Monaghan

1.  RHU BEAG MARCHES Ali ‘Beag’, Alasdair, Kevin & Will
      The Sweet Maid of Glendaruel, Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle, Teribus
2. CULKEIN WALTZES featuring Ali ‘Beag’ & Kevin
      Cathair A’Chulkein, Cuir Culaibh ri Assainte, Ninag A’Chulkein
3. HEBRIDEAN PIPE MARCHES Ali ‘Beag’, Alasdair, Kevin & Will
      Father John MacMillan of Barra, Lady Lever Park
4. MARCH STRATHSPEY & REEL - solo bagpipes featuring Alasdair
Ross-shire Volunteers, The Islay Ball, The Old Ruins
5. ENARD BAY REELS Alasdair & Kevin
Lochinver, Achnahaird, An Londubh
6. SPRINGWELL KITCHEN SET - solo mandolin, resonators and bouzouki featuring Kevin
Old Toasty, Sabhail Iain ic Uisdean,
Roddie Macleod, Polbain, Lord MacDonald’s Reel
7.  THE STEAMBOAT SET Ali ‘Beag’, Alasdair, Kevin & Will
Kenmure’s Up and Awa’ Willie, The Steamboat, Cock o’ the North

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Rhu Beag, £5.95

2015

KEVIN MACLEOD (TENOR GUITAR, MANDOLIN, CITTERN, FENDER SLIDE & BOUZOUKI), ALI BEAG MACLEOD (ACCORDION), ALASDAIR FRASER (BAGPIPES & WHISTLE), WILL MACLEAN (TRUMP) Traditional Highland music is performed here by four Coigach locals from the north shore of Lochbroom in the far North West Highlands of Scotland. Their lively tunes are played here on bagpipes, accordion, resonator tenor guitars, mandolin and trump (jaw's harp), and this fine recording makes a great memento of the music and landscape of Coigach.

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Reviews for Highland Strands

Certain things are as constant as the sunrise, the enduring attraction of lovingly-delivered Scottish traditional music is one of them. ‘Highland Strands’ from Kevin Macleod (plus a few good friends) is a fine example, played by musicians rightly classed as masters of their art. The relaxed and easy way they deliver the mix of music on this album belies the dexterity and skill that clearly goes into its creation.

The album takes a wide-spanning turn through a selection of reels, waltzes, jigs and marches, and along the way covers some of the best traditional music and includes influences from Scotland, Ireland and America. Ancient music rubs shoulders with newer tunes and the fusion is seamless. Hardly surprising, when you consider the artists involved and performance pedigrees that include Shooglenifty, De Danann, Ossian and Tannahill Weavers.

With Kevin playing mandolin, bouzouki, cittern and tenor guitars, are Luke Plumb (bouzouki, mandolin, tenor guitar) Alec Finn (bouzouki, guitar) John Martin (fiddle) Matheu Watson (guitar) Tim Jones (mandolin) and Phil Smillie (flute, whistle).

Music like this is ceaselessly uplifting – listen to ‘Highland Strands’ - I’m certain you’ll agree.

Reviewer: Dan Holland

When one finds a ‘solo’ CD with a whole list of famous friends, the result can often be a rather flashy band. Mercifully, that’s not the case here - just a lot of very high quality accompaniments, rarely by more than two people, which never distract from Mr Macleod’s superb playing. Mercifully again, he’s a dance musician, so the emphasis is on the music and not on the man - again, something of a rarity when the man in question is so technically accomplished.

If Kevin Macleod’s playing is new to you (it was to me), then here’s a taster: from track 1, Whiskey Before Breakfast. Despite the CD’s subtitle ‘Scottish Traditional Music on Mandolin ...’, I think this is actually a Canadian tune! The selection of tunes is quite varied, although reels do predominate.

This is an altogether lovely CD which, I’m pleased to say, I can find nothing to comment adversely about ... another rarity! You can buy it from: www.kevinmacleod.co.uk

Rod Stradling - 5.8.14

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Highland Strands, £12.00

Beagcd003, 2014

The brand new recording by Kevin, released on 26th July 2014. You can purchase a cd using the website here, or go to iTunes for a download option. Also, you can hear several tracks off the cd in the short film in the "Music Videos" section of the website entitled "Highland Strands"

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Reviews for Braes of Badentarbat

“Coigach is the area just above Ullapool, round about Achiltibuie, and it’s from this area that box player Ali Beag MacLeod comes, as does the family of mandolin, banjo, cittern, bouzouki and guitar player Kevin Macleod.  When they were conceiving the idea for this album, they moved on from the basic idea of musical duets to that of reflecting the bardachd, or poetry, of the area, especially that of Neil MacLeod, “the Polbain Bard”, here recited by Kevin’s father Roddie, and a new self-penned poem, Cairnearachd, by Sandy ‘Boots’ Macleod, Neils great-nephew.

The poetry of Neil MacLeod reflects on topics such as the harsh and cruel experiences of the people who suffered during the shameful Highland Clearances, and the difficulties of relying on lobster-fishing for a living.  The insert booklet is illustrated by artwork from local artist Will Maclean, giving an extra cohesion to the whole package.

The music which intersperses all this is great West-coast style, with extra contributions from Freeland Barbour, piano; Luke Plumb, guitars and mandolin; and John Maclean, keyboard.  Most are traditional, with a few of more modern provenance, and the overall feel is of a great, varied ceilidh, albeit one in which the musicianship is of the highest standards.  The nimble fingers of Luke Plumb were also responsible for the recording, editing and mixing.

Everybody involved with this recording should be proud to have produced such a link from the older traditions of the area right up to the evolving traditions of today.”

- Gordon Potter

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Braes of Badentarbat, £12.00

BEAGCD002, 2010

Braes of Badentarbat - Ali Beag MacLeod & Kevin Macleod: A flavour of the music and bàrdachd (Gaelic poetry) traditions of Coigach in the far north west Highlands, not just today, but also back in time where it all came from, featuring local lads button accordion player Ali Beag Macleod and tenor guitarist Kevin Macleod. Ali is a talented player and fine tune writer, his music is full of the character of the local music in the Coigach area and demonstrates the way in which music is enjoyed there every day.

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Reviews for The Trowel in my Hand (A5 booklet)

“The modest size of this publication belies its importance as an act of preservation and celebration, and of carrying tradition into the future. Not only are Neil MacLeod’s poems and songs excellent in their own right, but they also, together with Roddie Macleod’s richly informative commentary, give us a vivid history of the community in which both of them were born and raised.” - James Robertson

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The Trowel in my Hand (A5 booklet), £7.00

2005

This short collection of poems contains the only known surviving work of Neil MacLeod, the Polbain Bard. His verse, transcribed and translated here for the first time by Roderick Macleod, gives us a glimpse back into Polbain, in Coigach, at the end of the 19th century, where a vibrant, oral Gaelic tradition was very much alive. This is Gaelic poetry in a rich and animated form, full of images of boats, fishing, hardships, wild rocky reefs, loves lost and gained, enforced clearances and poverty. The verse brings to life the Gaelic community of Polbain, and what was recorded just in time is now preserved here as a testament to Neil MacLeod and his like.

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Reviews for Springwell

Springwell basks in the glory that is the Celtic acoustic guitar. This album is both for the connoisseur and layman alike. I must admit to an unfamiliarity regarding Kevin’s musical background, however spells playing with The Occasionals, and on Freeland Barbour’s Northlins, have clearly stood him in good stead on this, his first solo excursion. 

With the greatest respect to Kevin, it was the list of musicians he’s assembled to join him on Springwell that first caught my eye. Alec Finn, and Frankie Gavin of De Dannan, Malcolm Jones, and Freeland Barbour of the Occasionals, and to complete the roll call John Martin, from the Tannerhill Weavers. With the aid of an abundance of guitars, 9 in total, ranging from a 1922 Gibson mandolin, to a 1992 electric tenor banjo, Kevin steers us with great skill through his interpretations of various Scottish fiddle, and bagpipe tunes. 

What makes Springwell a delight for the listener is the sheer joy, which Kevin obviously gets from playing these instruments, and that comes across in the infectious nature of the music. As the artist says “It’s a fresh look at Scottish traditional music, with swing, ring and drive in every note”. 

This may be Kevin’s first solo recording, however I’m sure it’ll not be his last. 

Keith Whitham

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Springwell, £12.00

CDTRAX178, 1999

Acoustic mandolin, bouzouki and resophonic guitar from Scotland and beyond. With Alec Finn, Frankie Gavin (De Dannan), John Martin (Tannahill Weavers), Malcolm Jones (Runrig) and Freeland Barbour. Kevin is also a member of The Occasionals. ‘This is one you’ll want on your CD player, just try prizing it out once it is in’ (Irish Music Magazine) ‘The use of no less than nine beautiful and varied stringed instruments gives the music a delightful timeless quality’ (Scots Music) ‘Springwell is a fine example of a musician exploring parallel traditions in a fresh and original way’ (Rock & Reel)

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Reviews for Polbain to Oranmore

There are those who probably consider mandolins, bouzoukis and such as relatively specialist instruments within the Scottish and Irish music scenes, interlouping newcomers from foreign parts, and such like. Those of us who try to hack out a few tunes on this family of beasties know better, but there is a vast range of instrumentation in this extended family, which has caught the interest of Kevin and Alec, along with resonator and slide guitar. Put that range of instruments in the hands of such expert players and the result should be something special.

And something special is just what we have here. With years of experience, principally in The Occasionals and De Dannan respectively, Kevin and Alec have amassed as fine a collection of the instrument-makers’ arts as you could hope to get on one album and proceed to let us hear just what these very same instruments are capable of when passed from the hands of the craft makers to the hands of the craft players.

Of the fifteen tracks, twelve are of Scottish and three of Irish provenance, with a good blend of older and newer tunes, spread over waltzes, jigs, reels, marches, you name it. From the opening Nothing Can Sadden Us / Port Patrick / March Of The Cameron Men to the closing Bloody Fields Of Flanders there is pure delight, with the choices of instruments lending an overarching gentle and restrained feel which in no way detracts from the drive and vigour which is evident when required.

This is obviously the work of two musicians who enjoy each other’s company and interact at one with themselves and with their music. This CD is a beacon to all those who appreciate the subtleties and nuances of these sometimes overlooked instruments.

Gordon Potter

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Polbain to Oranmore , £12.00

CDTRAX239, 2003

A duet recording by Kevin Macleod and Alec Finn (De Danann) recorded on variety of vintage stringed instruments. Currently out of print at Greentrax, but one or two copies still available from Kevin Macleod through this website.

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Reviews for Dorney Rock

Kevin MacLeod is the mandolinist from Scots band The Occasionals and he likes to think of his recordings as being ‘a dialogue between musicians.’  That is most certainly what is going on here, and it’s a lively, sometimes intense dialogue where the notes are often metaphorically rattled off like words spoken at a racking pace.  And the bright, beautiful, detailed sound of the mandolin always ensures that the conversation is fun and highly articulate. 
 
Kevin is joined by De Dannan’s Alec Finn, Orcadian Kris Drever (now the proud owner of a Horizon Award), and Tasmanian Luke Plumb (of Shooglenifty fame), and their combined musicianship provides outrageously good listening.  Kevin’s longstanding friendship with Alec Finn is certainly enhanced by these newer acquaintances in a superbly enjoyable recording that offers the listener a cracking selection of tunes from Scotland and Ireland.  The jigs and reels absolutely stand out to me, tunes like Norminator Reels, Robert MacDonald’s Jigs, Shetland Reels and more.  There are waltzes and hornpipes too – plenty of rhythmic variety here.
 
It’s a brilliant celebration of stringed instruments – mandolin, resonator mandolin, octave mandolin, tricone resonator tenor guitar, bouzouki and guitar spar, jostle and dance throughout.  Recommended without hesitation.
 
Debbie Koritsas

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Dorney Rock, £12.00

CDTRAX302, 2006

This third recording from Scots mandolinist Kevin MacLeod, of The Occasionals Ceilidh Band, features a lively collection of Scottish and Irish traditional music, and also some new melodies from several contemporary composers including himself. He is joined by three masters of the tradition - Ireland’s legendary bouzouki player Alec Finn of De Dannan, Orcadian guitar supremo Kris Drever of trio Lau, and Luke Plumb, the Tasmanian mandolin and bouzouki dynamo from Scottish band Shooglenifty. The four musicians unite to create an enlivening fusion of tunes from the great musical traditions of Scotland and Ireland. In addition to the mandolin, Kevin also plays bouzouki, cittern and various guitars on the album. ‘A rare fluency on the mandolin’ (Simon Mayor)

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Reviews for The Occasionals - Birling

“This is a wonderful CD, rock steady tempos with a jaunty lift and exciting sound throughout” - Box and Fiddle

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The Occasionals - Birling, £10.00

CDTRAX371, 2012

Tracks - The Hornes Set / The Occasionals Jigs / The Highland Wedding / Orkney Memories / The Westringing Set / The Capstan Two Step / Gaelic Melodies / Northern Reels / A Drop Of Brandy / Set Of Marches / Cold Winds / The Hebridean / The Celebration / Happy We've Been / Irish Jigs / The Percy French Set / The Old 2/4's / Dumfries And Galloway Reels

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Reviews for The Occasionals - The Full Set

‘A wonderful DVD and CD from The Occasionals’ – Dirty Linen

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The Occasionals - The Full Set , £10.00

DVTRAX2021, 2008

AUDIO CD with 12 most popular Scottish Ceilidh Dances + 4 bonus tracks. BOOKLET with Dance Instructions for the above 12 dances, plus general background notes. DVD with Instructional Film for the 12 dances + 'HOME FOOTAGE', a 1 hour documentary on The Occasionals. Gay Gordons / Highland Schottische / Eva Three Step / Virginia Reel / St. Bernard's Waltz / Dashing White Sergeant / Military Two Step / Pride of Erin Waltz / Britannia Two Step / Strip The Willow / Canadian Barn Dance / Eightsome Reel / The Friendly Waltz / The Russian Ballet / The Full Set Polka / The Orkney Eva Three Step

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Reviews for The Occasionals - Down to the Hall

‘The Occasionals are at the top of their game and it shows’ – Rambles (USA)
‘The brilliant new fifth CD from The Occasionals’ – Box and Fiddle
‘Will keep the peats smouldering for years’ – Scotland on Sunday
‘Good Stuff’ – Froots

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The Occasionals - Down to the Hall, £10.00

CDTRAX 289, 2006

Tracks: Waldoboro / La Russe / Reedy Lagoon /Balmoral Highlanders / Lord Lovat / Happy Valley / Frank and Anne Martin / Old Adam / Lily Russell / Liberton Pipe Band / Cavan Girl / Penicuik Ceilidh Club / Flett from Flotta / Shoe The Donkey / Peter's Peerie Boat / The Drampire / The Agnes / Gardebylaten / George Johnston / Ladies of Spain / Shiftin' Bobbins. The above tracks cover music for La Russe, Wilma's Waltz, Palais Glide, Viennese Swing, Dinky One Step, Fiona's Polka, Waltz of The Bells, Marine Four Step, Millenium March, Postie's Jig, La Rosa, Shiftin' Bobbins, Allemans March ...amongst others.

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Reviews for The Occasionals -Reel of Four

‘Elegant,entertaining and just somehow ‘right’’ - The Scots Magazine
‘A superb recording’ - Accordion Review
‘A marvellous document of traditional and contemporary sets for Scottish ceilidh dancing’ - Dirty Linen (USA)
‘Yet another excellent album from one of the greatest ceilidh bands ever’ - The Living Tradition

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The Occasionals -Reel of Four , £10.00

CDTRAX 259, 2004

Dance Music from Scotland - Tracks: The Thomson Boys / Botany Bay / Loch Maree Islands / Bobby Campbell / Jock Mackay / Maids of Kintail / Stirlingshire Militia / Flowers of Edinburgh / Cumberland Reel / Jessamine / Eileen and Roddie Macleod / La Va / Yon Toun / Sands of Egypt / Maggie Mae / Willie Tait

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Reviews for The Occasionals - Live from The Music Hall Aberdeen

‘The finest Scottish and Old Time dance music from a legendary group in the making’ - The Living Tradition
‘One of the best Scottish dance bands’ - Folk Roots
‘A verve and drive guaranteed to lift a morgue and turn it into a party – RTE
‘this matchless ceilidh band’ - Inverness Courier

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The Occasionals - Live from The Music Hall Aberdeen, £10.00

CDTRAX 184, 1999

Scottish and Old Time Music - Tracks: Virginia Reel / Circle Waltz / Military Two Step / Gay Gordons / Highland Schottische / Killarney Waltz / Eva Three Step / White Heather Foxtrot / Barony Waltz / Britannia Two Step / Gay Gordons Two Step / Victory Waltz / Circles Four / Canadian Barn Dance / The Riverside / The Last Waltz / Final Blast

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Reviews for The Occasionals - Back in Step

‘Substantial and immaculately performed’ - Dirty Linen (USA)

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The Occasionals - Back in Step, £10.00

CDTRAX107CD, 1996

The Complete Scottish Ceilidh Dance Volume 2 - Tracks: Grand March / Boston Two Step / Flying Scotsman / Hesitation Waltz / Jacky Tar Two Step / Circassian Circle / Lomond Waltz / Baden Powell / Hullichan's Jig / Duke of Perth / Russian Ballet / Friendly Waltz / The Haymakers / Gypsy Tap / Southern Rose Waltz / Drops of Brandy / Call of the Pipes / Orcadian Strip The Willow As a companion to this CD see also the Booklet of Dance Instructions ('Back In Step).

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Reviews for The Occasionals - Footnotes

‘Faultless and vivacious’ - The Scotsman
‘Highly recommended’ - Folk Roots

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The Occasionals - Footnotes , £10.00

IRCD 021, 1992

The Complete Scottish Ceilidh Dance Tracks: Gay Gordons / Eva Three Step / St. Bernard's Waltz / Dashing White Sergeant / Military Two Step / Canadian Barn Dance / Pride of Erin Waltz / Strip The Willow / Britannia Two Step / Waltz Country Dance / Cumberland Square Eight / Highland Schottische / Swedish Masquerade / Virginia Reel / The Foula Reel / The Veleta / Eightsome Reel / Last Waltz

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