26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audio Fidelity version limited to 3000 copies; different tonality than Mofi both have their own strengths
Stevie Wonder's music can be very frustrating for fans to collect in good sounding editions. The 2000 remasters sounded awful (to be chartiable they may have been played back and not decoded properly) compared to the Holy Grail until recently the Mobile Fidelity CD which, reportedly, is the ONLY version to use the original mastertape (it was an accident--Wonder's people...
Published on April 3, 2012 by Wayne Klein
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent song-wise, remastering is crummy
This is a great album song/composition-wise. I love Stevie Wonder and this is an excellent collection. It's a 5-star album if you consider just the songs themselves. The reason for taking away two stars is because the remastered version is so bright and harsh it hurts my ears. Stevie's voice is full of sibilance and on the tracks where he has electronically altered his...
Published on September 4, 2009 by monkuboy
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audio Fidelity version limited to 3000 copies; different tonality than Mofi both have their own strengths,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Stevie Wonder's music can be very frustrating for fans to collect in good sounding editions. The 2000 remasters sounded awful (to be chartiable they may have been played back and not decoded properly) compared to the Holy Grail until recently the Mobile Fidelity CD which, reportedly, is the ONLY version to use the original mastertape (it was an accident--Wonder's people provided that vs. a safety copy at the time at least it's rumored--for some reason they will not release the mastertape and haven't for ANY version except the Mofi).
The new Audio Fidelity version is a marked improvement over the 2000 reissue by Universal/Motown. The tonality is superior here and there isn't a hint of the post-production compressed used to jack up the 2000 edition. How does it compare to the Mofi? I have to be honest I had to compare it to a CD-R and not the original product but it does compare favorably. The Mofi is slightly more trebly but not necessarily in a bad way and the vocals were, to me, a bit clearer with a slightly better soundstage. As far as the SACD version I don't have it since it's not a hybrid (and I like to have those so I can rip it to my hard drive)although I have "heard" that it compares favorably beyond that, your mileage may vary.
The AF also has its merits as well--it lacks that slightly trebly quality (which may be a part of the original mastertape--I have no idea)without sounding veiled. Kevin Gray who did the remastering here has done a good job of capturing the essence of the recording based on the original vinyl and first CD mastering but with improved bass, depth, detail and less murkiness by comparison.
As to whether or not you should upgrade--it's totally up to how satisfied you are with the Mofi. The AF is DIFFERENT with strengths in different areas than the Mofi (and I, for one, do not understand the bashing that some folks have thrown Mofi's way on some of their masterings--like any studio some are spectacular and some not so much so but they ar always competitent and fun to listen to even if you don't always agree with the mastering choices). If you think the Mofi or the recent HDtracks lossless download oreven the SACD is satisfying, I'm not sure you'll find the AF to be a better choice necessarily. It's all down to taste.
I like the AF some others won't but given the pricing as of today at amazon and the limited availability (it's limited to 3000 copies), this was truly a no brainer for me to pick up. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary depending on your system, your ears and your taste and, having said that, I do like this edition of the album finding it less shrill than the 2000 remaster, with better detail and depth compared to the Japanese first edition I've heard and it compares favorably to the Mofi. If you're a fan of Kevin Gray's mastering style, you'll enjoy this. If not and you have the Mofi (which, if I recall correctly was mastered by Shawn Brittan), stick with it as it (based on the copy I have) sounds quite nice as well (but keep in mind that Brittan worked with a different source tape--the original mastertape by all accounts compared to a safety master if I recall correctly that was also the basis for ALL other masterings).
Recommended if you don't have have a good sounding version (the 2000 edition).
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stevie's Best,
This is easily Stevie Wonder's best CD. Though his previous "breakout album" Talking Book did have some innovative tunes, to me it was hindered by a few overly sappy love songs. "Key of Life" is a great album, but isn't as concise. There is only one traditional love song on Innervisions ("All is Fair in Love" is a sad reflection on relationships, but certainly not a romantic ballad). Here's a track by track analysis
1) Too High: Jazzy cautionary tale about drug abuse and its consequences, but subtle enough not to be overtly preachy. It captures the feeling of an addict who exists only to "touch the sky" but never gets there. Outstanding drumming by Stevie (yes, he plays the DRUMS too!!).
2) Visions: Utterly stunning in its beauty. The acoustic guitar work is second to none.
3) Living for the City: The "epic" of the CD describes the tribulations of a man raised in poverty in the South only to find more poverty upon his migration to the city. Yeah, the interlude section is a little cheesy, but still effective and with great vocals as always.
4) Golden Lady: I love how this song keeps going up a key in the end, which signifies the yearning of the singer for his lady. What a great love song.
5) Higher Ground: Once again, outstanding drums and a very funky beat. Like most in my generation, I heard the RHCP cover first (which is a decent interpretation), but it didn't take long to me to realize that this is the definitive verision.
6) Jesus Children of America: Stevie boldly confronts religious fundamentalists, junkies, and even the listener, challenging all to "come clean," all while being backed by insistent gospel harmonies.
7) All is Fair in Love: Laced with agony and pain, Stevie teaches us all about the difficulties of a romantic relationship.
8) Don't You Worry Bout a Thing: A great song about being there to support a friend who is going through a transitional period. Very comforting.
9) Mista Know-It-All: Some think this song is a bash on President Nixon; others interpret it as a stern message against arrogant street hustlers who are looking to corrupt inner-city youth. However you interpret it, it is certainly an effective kiss-off and a creative way to end the album (as opposed to ending it with a sappy love song).
People who have only ever heard "Part Time Lover" may have a hard time accepting Stevie Wonder as a genuine artist, but trust me and the other reviewers, this CD is different. You will not regret buying it.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STEVIE PROVES HIS VISION IS LIMITLESS.,
By A Customer
Listening to the sheer breadth of the music presented here, it's hard to believe Stevie Wonder was all of 23 when he released this masterpiece. Continuing a very fruitful collaboration with synth wizards Bob Marguleouff and Malcolm Cecil, Wonder made what is, in my opinion, his most accomplished album ever. Avoiding the artistic excesses that would threaten to topple his later works (1976's "Songs In The Key Of Life" being the most notable example), Stevie perfected his sound, production and vocal delivery on these 9 flawless numbers. "Too High" opens with a bouncing, funky bass/synth line that remains the focal point throughout this jazzy, bracing track which also features superb backing vocals by Lani Groves and Jim Gilstrap. Stevie's cymbal-accented drumming and keyboard work are also miracles unto themselves. This knockout opener segues directly into "Visions" a heartbreakingly beautiful acoustic number envisioning a perfect, "milk and honey land, where hate is a dream, and love forever stands". Sung with an almost childlike innocence, Stevie concludes each verse with the longing question "is this a vision in my mind?" Positively breathtaking. (Special Note: Before the final verse, after a brief pause in the music as the vibes and guitars fade momentarily into silence, listen as Stevie takes a deep breath before continuing the vocal passage, it almost breaks your heart.) This vision of utopia is abruptly interrupted by the looming, deep, almost ominous sounding synthesizer intro to the timeless "Living For The City" (remember Spike Lee's brilliant use of this in "Jungle Fever", and how it blew away every other song in the movie?)From the insistent, pounding rhythm of this song, Stevie's astoundingly detailed lyrics,(you can truly see all of the people he describes in this piece) to the still terrifying vision of the boy from Mississippi arriving in New York City and quickly being set up for arrest and imprisonment, this song has lost none of it's impact almost 27 years after being recorded. Stevie's vocals on this track are extremely impressive, alternating between high-pitched on the choruses to low and (literally) growling on the final verse, perfectly matching the hard and gritty reality of New York faced by the songs protagonist. Still his scariest song ever, and one of his funkiest. "Living"... gives way to the beautiful piano intro and breezy, effortless balladry of the underrated "Golden Lady". Sporting one of his loveliest melodies ever, this song closes side one on a romantic, hopeful note with Stevie repeating the chorus several times into the fade, letting the euphoric feeling wash over the listener. Side Two opens with the outstanding, one man band effort "Higher Ground" Everything Stevie does well is presented here, searing vocals, social commentary in the lyrics, driving drums, funky bass and even funkier clavinet, this was the album's biggest radio hit and still gets your head nodding to the bounding rhythm everytime. Witness his vocal whoooo! after the last chorus and you can tell he knows this one is a smoker too! Fading directly into "Jesus Children of America" another bass synth heavy mid-tempo number that touches on quite a few topics lyrically, from the homeless, religion, trancendental meditation, and drug use that sounds like a warning signal to each of us to awaken from our spiritual and moral complacency. "Al In Love Is Fair" follows and slowly works it's way into your subconcious, with it's simple, straightforward arrangement and passionate vocal delivery, another perfect song on an album chock-full of creativity. The somber mood is lifted immediately by the playful piano figure and playful foreign language come-on at the intro to "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing". The Latin-flavored arrangement and percussive textures make this another ear pleaser. Stevie's double-tracked vocals on the bridge are also spine tingling, you simply can't resist smiling when you hear him harmonize with himself! The largely acoustic "He's Misstra Know It All" closes out the proceedings on a relaxed yet uplifting note with the background repeating the smooth chorus over and over as the tunes drifts along on a bed of piano, laid back bass and drums bringing the track to it's gospel-tinged crescendo. A perfect close to a perfect album. R&B, pop, rock or whatever you choose to call it, this album has stood, and will continue to stand the test of time. This is indispensible and belongs in any comprehensive music collection.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What else to say ... a classic,
This review is from: Innervisions (Numbered, Limited Edition Digi-Pak) (Audio CD)
Growing up my musical interest was primarily classic rock and classical. In college I finally started endeavoring to understand jazz. Now I have favorites from about every stlye out there. Inexplicably, "Innervisions" didn't make it into my collection until a couple of months ago and I must say I've been missing out. Sure I was familiar with Stevie Wonder, but the album quickly rose to being ranked among my personal favorites and comparable to albums like "Abbey Road" and "Dark Side of the Moon" as genre-transcendent masterpieces. "Innversions" perhaps even more than the aforementioned titles is an absolute amalgam of genres and styles, seamlessly blended. From the funky standards "Higher Ground" and "Living for the City" to the gorgeous ballads "Visions" and "All in Love is Fair" Stevie doesn't pen a single dud. My personal favorite would probably have to be the album-closing "He's Missta Know-it-all". A song that confounds with its sentimental story of a fairly despicable character. The kicker is the excellent remastering on this disc. I never owned the original and can't compare, but have to say this is one of the best sounding, clearest, and deepest CDs out of my collection of more than 800. On top of that it is a limited edition offering. So what are you waiting for? This is an album that can truly appeal to just about any music fan. Even pretentious indie-rock types can't say anything negative. Truly a timeless masterpiece.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes music to places it's never before or since been,
It's a shame that there haven't been many true musical pioneers in the soul and R+B genres since Stevie Wonder. The genre is sorely lacking today. There aren't many performers out there who write their own songs, and so many artists sound way too similar. I for one, prefer the live instruments of these recordings to the repetitive, bland programmed beats of modern day singers like R. Kelly. And it seems as if vocalists are trying to imitate the same style that's on display here, with less enthusiasm. Even if Stevie's new album (which comes out in June) is a dud, it'll probably still put all other current R+B acts to shame in terms of originality and creativity.
This album is R+B, soul, rock, jazz, whatever... it's all here. Most would classify Stevie Wonder as R+B, and if that's the case, then there has never been an artist who's made more compelling R+B music. Stevie jumps between more stylings of playing, singing and songwriting than most artists are even capable of pulling off in their entire careers, let alone recording on an album!
The album starts with the jazzy classic "Too High", which uses complex chord voicings done with both instruments and voices. It also has a great, funky backbeat, as well as great harmonica and keyboard work by Stevie. And let's have a hand for his awesome drumming as well (yes, he even plays the drums on this one, as well as many other songs of his). Next is "Visions", a soft ballad about a possible future of peace and happiness. A great vocal performance from Mr. Wonder, supplemented by tragic yet hopeful lyrics.
Next is possibly Stevie Wonder's most powerful song ever, "Living For the City". Just trying to describe the song is worthless. I happened upon this song by accident one day, and it may have changed my opinion on everything I ever thought could be done in music. From the horrific depictions of city life in the lyrics, to the tremendously funky rhythms, and the absolutely jaw-dropping composition, this song can be summed up with one word: "classic".
Next, following with yet another classic, we have "Golden Lady". Just a great song with great vocal work, a fantastic melody, and a great organ solo in the middle. Plus the outro is very exciting with it's multiple, ascending key changes, which really make this song great.
"Higher Ground" brings out the rock side of this album very well. Straightforward, yet funky, this song really gets one moving. A tremendously powerful vocal performance by Stevie, this song is well-loved by all. If you've only heard the Chili Peppers' cover, you're truly missing out, as all the groove is located here.
The weakest track on here would without a doubt be the greatest song on any R+B album from 1990 onward. This track is "Jesus Children of America", a criticism of evangelical Christians who preach but don't practice. Although it's admittedly the weakest track here, you won't be skipping it, as it still is an awesome, funky song.
And what would a Stevie Wonder album be without the obligatory love ballad? It just so happens that "All in Love is Fair" is a great song, as is typical of 70's Wonder. As always ends up being the case with his ballads, the vocals are the standout, as they are spectacular.
Next is a Latin-style number called "Don't Worry Bout A Thing". If this song doesn't make you want to dance, you may not have any life left in you. The Latin rhythms are infectious and likeable, and the vocals (lead and backup) will amaze you. It has some of the best harmonies I've ever heard in a song before.
"He's Misstra Know It All". Perhaps it's a change of pace from the rest of the album, as it's a softer song, but it plays along well, and has the best melody on the album (and since every song has a fantastic melody, that's saying alot.) And Stevie's soulful performance on the outro will definitely raise your spirits, regardless of how you're feeling (I get chills just thinking about it.)
Surprising how amazing this album is even after thirty years. To think that this style of music would have few artists who would even rival the creativity on display here, even with the advancement and influence of several new genres, including hip-hop, is disappointing. We need Stevie to come back strong this year, and show us musical genius at work once again. And for us teenagers, who never grew up with this, maybe we need to hear some refreshing R+B music for the first time in our lives...
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard not to be redundant,
This review is from: Innervisions (Numbered, Limited Edition Digi-Pak) (Audio CD)
Why they made five stars.
Stevie's best work to that time. Wonderful storytelling, in "Living For The City". Inspiration in "Higher Ground" and especially "Jesus Children of America". Love songs (of course) in "All In Love Is Fair". The reproduction on this disc is positively stunning. After not listening to this for more than a decade, the CD knocked me out.
Eddie Murphy was correct: STEVIE WONDER IS A MUSICAL GENIUS
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really nice mastering! Different than the MFSL.,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I compared to the MFSL. This was not an easy comparison at all. They both are very good. There was a lot of back and forth. Sometimes preferring the MFSL, and then preferring the AF. I had to listen to each song many times.
It will come down to want you want. If you like better separation between instruments and a deeper bass then hunt down the MFSL. If you like a tad brighter sound while still sounding very natural and balanced then grab the AF. I think on some songs less bass helps and some it hurts. I also found the MFSL a little smoother sounding, and I liked that.
I would have liked to prefer the AF because it is always nice to get something better than before. But to me it is not a clear choice and comes to taste. If I had to pick just one, I would pick the MFSL. I could easily live with either one. There are things I would miss about the AF and same with the MFSL.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have to buy one Stevie Wonder Album,
I have several Stevie Wonder albums and compilations. Innervisions stands out as Stevie's best work. He took a cliche (All is fair in love) and creatively made it soulful and contemplative. Higher Ground is fun and redemtive (I'm so glad that he let me try it again, cause my last life I lived a whole world of sin). Every song has a message that doesn't hit you over the head. You can listen to this cd to mellow out or do some serious soul searching. An added bonus for me was that All in love is fair was Anna and Robert's theme song on General Hospital in the late 80's early 90's. If you can't live with only one Stevie Wonder album, then buy Songs in the Key of Life. The hidden song after Ordinary Pain should have been released as a single on its own.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfectly wonderful,
Stevie Wonder speaks in the language of music - whether you like r&b, jazz, soul, funk, or rock you will be able to appreciate him - he is one of the great entertainers of all time. His voice is so bright and soulful and his instrumental talent is incredible. 'Innervisions' is a very well-crafted album that gels together and seems to be an even greater expression than the monumental 'talking book' - I would recommend both albums - this one just seems to be the crowning achievement.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars .......visions from a super musical visionary.......,
stevie wonder's 1973 legendary classic album "innervisions" holds a very special place in my heart because it was the first album that i ever owned.my sweet mother bought me this album when i was a 9 or 10 year old kid back in 1973.the artist efram wolff created a masterpiece of an illustration of the blind musical genius whose extraordinary vision of life can be felt with more compassion than those of us who have sight.wonder called "innervisions" a 'total statement'and he is true 2 the point with this masterpiece of an album.with this the third installment in working with synthesizer wizards robert margouleff and malcolm cecil who also did the associate production on this legendary album.the previous two albums of his new era:"music of my mind" and "talking book"(both from 1972)of which some of the material from both albums were recorded at jimi hendrix's 'electric ladyland'studios."innervisions"would be the first album that would not have parts of it recorded at 'electric ladyland'.it was recorded at only two studios:the record plant in los angeles and media sound incorporated in new york.wonder blends the elements of life brilliantly on this classic record:drugs,utopia,urban decay,romance,spirituality,the social political front,romantic heartbreak,and no good dirty hypocritical politicians.
wonder opens "innervisions" with the hazyspaced jazzsoul funk cut 'too high' a serious cut about a young woman on drugs.this drug reference cut finds this young girl enjoying the pleasure of being stoned and she cannot escape the trappings of it's addiction:'i'm too high...i'm too high but i ain't left the ground...i'm too high...i'm too high...i hope i never ever come down'-also amazingly wonder magically makes the drugs 'talk' near the song's end:'she's a girl of the past/i guess that i got to her at last'....stevie plays all instruments on this cut and he also gives his great harmonica solo on the song.the background vocalists lani groves,tasha thomas,and jim gilstrap provide great vocalisations on this dark,moody cut.i had just recently learned that tasha thomas one of wonder's backup vocalists (on this song 'too high')is no longer with us.i am sad.i had no idea that we lost her in 1984.she was only in her thirties.(she has done some solo albums)/the title cut 'visions'is where the album cover illustration comes to life with wonder's profiled vision of the earth in his complexed mind.it is wonder's utopian vision about the beauty of the earth and people in unity:'people hand in hand/have i lived to see the milk and honeyland?/where hate's a dream and love forever stands/or is this a vision in my mind??? 4 this intricate delicate melody flows in a rhythm that takes your mind and soul away from everything that is bad in this world into a world of beautiful peace and warm solace...
'living for the city'is the album's most powerful harshest cut that is about urban decay.this powerful true to life cut is about a young black lad who is from hard time mississippi travels to new york city on a bus in which he exhorts in excitement:'wow!new york!just like i pictured it!skyscrappers and everythang!'in of which he is trying to pursue a better life only 2 stumble upon police brutality and is then thrown into the slammer by an injust system.wonder delivers his most harshest vocal near the song's conclusion 2 sum up the situation:'THIS PLACE IS CRUEL!/NO WHERE COULD BE MUCH COLDER/IF WE DON'T CHANGE,THE WORLD WILL SOON BE OVER!!! the song is still relevant today regarding these issues that still plague black america.the romantic 'golden lady'(which was written a few years before) features clarence bell on organ,ralph hammer on acoustic guitar,larry latimer on congas and stevie himself on the moog bass,fender rhodes piano,drums.the original origins of 'golden lady'of which wonder stated in a 1995 interview on video soul with donnie simpson,wonder originally called the song 'old little lady'but wonder said:'obviously it's not gonna be 'old little lady'so i came up with something really good:'golden lady!'that's it!'golden lady!'/and from there wonder created another classic romantic ballad:'to know the love and the beauty never known before,i'll leave it up to you to show it...golden lady,golden lady i'd like to go there...take me right away.../'golden lady'is one of wonder's most beautiful of ballads.his opening piano chords from this cut is pure genius.
'higher ground'finds wonder back again with the one man band attack of which he plays all instruments on the track.despite the song's funky groove,the song is about social events in the world that make the world go 'round and references about reaching a higher spiritual ground and reincarnation of which stevie mentions one of the key quotes from the song:'i'm so glad that he let me try it again...cause my last time on earth i lived a whole world of sin..i'm so glad that i know more than i knew then...gonna keep on tryin'til i reach the highest ground.../'higher ground' was a very special song 2 him.he very well remembered the date.wonder wrote the song on may 11,1973.he did the lyrics,music in a span of three hours.stevie mentioned that was the first time that he had ever recorded a track so swiftly.the very spiritual 'jesus children of america'(of which wonder again plays all instruments)is the second gospel song of his new era alongside that of 'evil'(from "music of my mind"-1972).'jesus children of america'is a powerful song with spiritual emotion honoring jesus,mother mary,and spiritual upliftment.but the song also speaks about the holy roller,the junkie who sticks a needle in his veins to straighten up and get right-a spiritual foundation.when wonder speaks of 'transcendental meditation'in the song because it gives us peace of mind in moments of stress.this song is a great spiritual healer.it is also a shame that black gospel radio stations do not pick up on this one.shame on them!!!
the beautiful heartbreak 'all in love is fair'finds our maestro in all of his painful emotion when regarding heartbreak and the mysteries that lies ahead after a love affair that sadly ends.very beautiful piano playing on this piece.'don't you worry 'bout a thing'has a latin salsa flavor to it of which wonder intones a line in the song of speaking fluent spanish of which he does before singing in english.the song features yusuf roahman on the shaker,and sheila wilkerson on the bongos&latin gourd.one of the song's key lines speaks of when everybody needs a change 2 check out new things in life that is there for you...the final cut on this classic album 'he's misstra know-it-all'is a moderate attack on the then so-called devil president richard'TRICKY DICK'nixon.and this will not be the only time that wonder would blast 'tricky dick'nixon.he would blast him again a year later with 'you haven't done nothin'(from the album 'fulfillingness first finale'-1974)also there was another artist around this time in 1973 along with wonder's 'he's misstra know-it-all'is then former motown writer and artist lamont dozier who blasted 'tricky dick'with 'fish ain't bitin'.both of these artists songs just blew this devil out of the water.(these songs were released around the time of tricky dick's watergate scandal)
on 'he's misstra know-it-all'wonder delivers these in your face lyrics about 'tricky dick'nixon:'makes a deal with a smile,knowin'all the time that his lie's a mile'/'if we had less of him don't you know we'd have a better land'...wonder concludes this legendary album on a moderate harsh note about hypocritical politicians who mean you no good,and are just out 4 greed and evil.../when stevie recorded "innervisions" in 1973,he also had an uncomfortable feeling when doing the legendary album.just three days after the release of "innervisions" stevie was involved in a horrific road accident of which he was on the passenger side of the car.john harris who is stevie's cousin was driving.they were on route 2 do a concert in durham,south carolina.stevie's cousin tried to drive around the swirving truck that was filled with wooden logs,but by that time one of the logs fell loose from the truck came crashing through stevie's side of the windshield and it damaged stevie's skull.
(i don't ever recall remembering this accident that happened 2 stevie when i was a child,i learned about it about a year later as a 10 year old.)stevie remained unconscious in the hospital for a week.after wonder was released from the coma,an old friend of stevie's by the name of ira tucker brought one of stevie's instruments 2 the hospital.and 4 a moment wonder would not touch the keyboard-because of the fear that he may not be able 2 play again; and when he did touch the instrument and began to play there was an expression of joy all over his face.after the accident,'higher ground'was released as a single and many of his following assumed that the track was written about the accident,but it wasn't.it was written before the accident.it also gave stevie a more new spiritual awareness about life as he recovered,and he came back with a vengeance in the following months and years as he won grammies from the songs from "talking book" and "innervisions" won two grammies for best engineered record and album of the year in 1973.
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