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Classic album covers minus deceased band members

Over the weekend, when the sad news spread about the passing of Tommy Ramone, a really touching image circulated online, showing the Ramones debut LP, then the same cover with Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee Photoshopped out, and then, at last, Tommy removed as well. Dangerous Minds even shared it on our Facebook page.

The middle image, of Tommy standing alone in front of that iconic brick wall, seems to have come from a Tumblr called “Live! (I See Dead People),” which is devoted entirely to skillfully removing deceased musicians from their LP covers—sort of like “Garfield Minus Garfield,” but with a more serious intent. The subjects range from cult figures like Nick Drake to canonical rock stars like Nirvana and The Doors, and the results are often quite poignant. The blog hasn’t been updated in almost three years, so it seems unlikely the artists behind this project, Jean-Marie Delbes and Hatim El Hihi, will re-do that Ramones cover. Indeed, their Morrison Hotel still features Ray Manzarek, who passed on a little over a year ago.

New York Dolls, s/t

Ol Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers

Nick Drake, Bryter Layter

The Who, Odds & Sods

Johnny Thunders, So Alone

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass

Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit

Jeff Buckley, Grace

The Doors, Morrison Hotel

John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy

The Clash, s/t

Elvis Presley, s/t

Hat-tip to Derf for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Classic rock conspiracy theory: ‘Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon,’ the dark heart of the hippie dream

The standard modus operandi of a work of “conspiracy theory” is fairly straightforward. The author/researcher takes some commonly accepted historical narrative, and lavishes scepticism upon it, while simultaneously maintaining an alternative understanding of what “really” happened, one that ostensibly better fits the considered facts.

While Dave McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon : Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream, indubitably follows this approach, its focus is utterly unique. Not to put too fine a point on it, the book is no less than the Official Classic Rock Conspiracy Theory, with individual chapters tackling the unlikely subjects of Frank Zappa, the Doors, Love, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Gram Parsons and more, the careers of which are scrutinized for the fingerprints of the secret state.

What you make of McGowan’s criteria in and of itself (which ranges fairly widely, and at times wildly, from a “tell-tale” preoccupation with the occult to heavy military-industrial family ties), to my mind the virtue of Weird Scenes dwells in the ensuing atmosphere of incredible fairy-tale strangeness—not unlike Joan Didion’s own famous look at California in the late sixties, The White Album. On almost every page, movie-star mansions, knitted with secret passages, spontaneously combust; murders, suicides and overdoses spread through the celebrity populace; cults spring up peopled with mobsters and spies… and all the while, this timeless, intriguing music keeps on geysering away. I contacted McGowan about his bizarre book earlier this week…

Thomas McGrath: Hi Dave. Could you begin please by telling us something about your previous work?

David McGowan: My work as a political/social critic began around 1997, when I began to see signs that the political landscape in this country was about to change in rather profound ways. That was also the time that I first ventured onto the internet, which opened up a wealth of new research possibilities. I put up my first website circa 1998, and an adaptation of that became my first book, Derailing Democracy, in 2000. That first book, now out of print, was a warning to the American people that all the changes we have seen since the events of September 11, 2001 – the attacks on civil rights, privacy rights, and due process rights; the militarization of the nation’s police forces; the waging of multiple wars; the rise of surveillance technology and data mining, etc. – were already in the works and just waiting for a provocation to justify their implementation. My second book, Understanding the F-Word, was a review of twentieth-century US history that attempted to answer the question: “if this is in fact where we’re headed, then how did we get here?” Since 9-11, I’ve spent a good deal of time researching the events of that day and looked into a wide range of other topics. My third book, Programmed to Kill, was a look at the reality and mythology of what exactly a serial killer is. For the past six years, I have spent most of my time digging into the 1960s and 1970s Laurel Canyon counterculture scene, which has now become my fourth book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon.

Thomas McGrath:  Am I right in presuming that you take it as a given fact that power networks are essentially infected by occultism? Are these cults essentially Satanic, or what?

David McGowan: Yes, I do believe that what you refer to as power networks, otherwise known as secret societies, are occult in nature. The symbolism can be seen everywhere, if you choose not to maneuver your way through the world deaf, dumb and blind. And I believe that it has been that way for a very long time. As for them being Satanic, I suppose it depends upon how you define Satanic. I personally don’t believe the teachings of either Satanism or Christianity, which are really just opposite sides of the same coin. I don’t believe that there is a God or a devil, and I don’t believe that those on the upper rungs of the ladder on either side believe so either. These are belief systems that are used to manipulate the minds of impressionable followers. In the case of Satanism, it is, to me, a way to covertly sell a fascist mindset, which is the direction the country, and the rest of the world, is moving. Those embracing the teachings think they are rebelling against the system, but they are in reality reinforcing it. Just as the hippies did. And just as so-called Patriots and Anarchists are. I don’t believe there has been a legitimate resistance movement in this country for a very long time.

Thomas McGrath: Tell us about Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon. What is this new book’s central thesis?

David McGowan: To the extent that it has a central thesis, I would say that it is that the music and counterculture scene that sprung to life in the 1960s was not the organic, grassroots resistance movement that it is generally perceived to be, but rather a movement that was essentially manufactured and steered. And a corollary to that would be that for a scene that was supposed to be all about peace, love and understanding, there was a very dark, violent underbelly that this book attempts to expose.

Thomas McGrath: How convinced are you by it and why?

David McGowan: Very convinced. It’s been a long journey and virtually everything I have discovered – including the military/intelligence family backgrounds of so many of those on the scene, both among the musicians and among their actor counterparts; the existence of a covert military facility right in the heart of the canyon; the prior connections among many of the most prominent stars; the fact that some of the guiding lights behind both the Rand Corporation and the Project for a New American Century were hanging out there at the time, as were the future governor and lieutenant governor of California, and, by some reports, J. Edgar Hoover and various other unnamed politicos and law enforcement personnel; and the uncanny number of violent deaths connected to the scene – all tend to indicate that the 1960s counterculture was an intelligence operation.

Thomas McGrath: You propose that hippie culture was established to neutralise the anti-war movement. But I also interpreted your book as suggesting that, as far as you’re concerned, there’s also some resonance between what you term “psychedelic occultism” (the hippie counterculture) and the “elite” philosophy/theology? You think this was a second reason for its dissemination?

David McGowan: Yes, I do. Hippie culture is now viewed as synonymous with the anti-war movement, but as the book points out, that wasn’t always the case. A thriving anti-war movement existed before the first hippie emerged on the scene, along with a women’s rights movement, a black empowerment/Black Panther movement, and various other movements aimed at bringing about major changes in society. All of that was eclipsed by and subsumed by the hippies and flower children, who put a face on those movements that was offensive to mainstream America and easy to demonize. And as you mentioned, a second purpose was served as well – indoctrinating the young and impressionable into a belief system that serves the agenda of the powers that be.

Thomas McGrath: One thing your book does very convincingly, I think, is argue that many if not most of the main movers in the sixties counterculture were, not to put too fine a point on it, horrendous, cynical degenerates. However, one might argue that a predilection for drugs, alcohol, and even things like violence and child abuse, does not make you a member of a government cult. You disagree?

David McGowan:  No. I’ve known a lot of people throughout my life with a predilection for drugs and alcohol, none of whom were involved in any cults, government or otherwise. And I don’t believe that a predilection for drugs makes one a degenerate. The focus on drug use in the book is to illustrate the point that none of the scene’s movers and shakers ever suffered any legal consequences for their rampant and very open use of, and sometimes trafficking of, illicit drugs. The question posed is why, if these people were really challenging the status quo, did the state not use its law enforcement powers to silence troublemakers? I do have zero tolerance for violence towards and abuse of children, which some people in this story were guilty of. But that again doesn’t make someone a member of a cult – though it does make them seriously morally challenged.

Thomas McGrath: You say in the book that you were always a fan of sixties music and culture. Weirdly, I found that, even while reading Weird Scenes, I was almost constantly listening to the artists you were denouncing. I mean, I found albums like Pet Sounds, Forever Changes, Return of the Grievous Angel,et al sounded especially weird in the context, but I still couldn’t resist sticking them on. I was wondering if you still listen to these records yourself?

David McGowan: Yes, I do. The very first rock concert I ever attended was Three Dog Night circa 1973 – a Laurel Canyon band, though I did not know that until about five years ago. To my mind, the greatest guitarist who ever lived was Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin was arguably the finest female vocalist – in terms of raw power and emotion – to ever take the stage. I don’t know that it is accurate to describe my book as “denouncing” various artists. Brian Wilson, who composed Pet Sounds, is described as the finest and most admired composer of his generation. The guys from Love, architects of Forever Changes, are presented as among the most talented musicians of the era. Frank Zappa is acknowledged as an immensely talented musician, composer and arranger. And so on. It is true that I believe that some of the most famed artists to emerge from Laurel Canyon are vastly overrated, with Jim Morrison and David Crosby quickly coming to mind. And it’s true that on some of the most loved albums that came out of the canyon, the musicians who interpreted the songs weren’t the ones on the album covers. And it’s also true that, unlike other books that have covered the Laurel Canyon scene, Weird Scenes doesn’t sugarcoat things. But the undeniable talent and artistry of many of the canyon’s luminaries is acknowledged. And the book also shines a little bit of light on some of the tragically forgotten figures from that era, like Judee Sill and David Blue, which could lead to readers rediscovering some of those artists and the talents that they had to offer.
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream is available now in special pre-release hardback only from Headpress. The paperback is out next month, and should be available from all strange bookshops.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Beyond the Doors: Conspiracy theories about the deaths of Jimi, Janis and Jim

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
A Door closes: Ray Manzarek dead at 74
02:07 pm


The Doors
Ray Manzarek

Sad to hear this.

Via The Doors’ Facebook page:

Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, passed away today at 12:31PM PT at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany after a lengthy battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74. At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his wife Dorothy Manzarek, and his brothers Rick and James Manczarek.

Manzarek is best known for his work with The Doors who formed in 1965 when Manzarek had a chance encounter on Venice Beach with poet Jim Morrison. The Doors went on to become one of the most controversial rock acts of the 1960s, selling more than 100-million albums worldwide, and receiving 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and five multi-Platinum albums in the U.S. alone. “L.A.Woman,” “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “The End,” “Hello, I Love You,” and “Light My Fire” were just some of the band’s iconic and ground-breaking songs. After Morrison’s death in 1971, Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. In 2002, he revitalized his touring career with Doors’ guitarist and long-time collaborator, Robby Krieger.

“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said Krieger. “I’m just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.”

Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy, brothers Rick and James Manczarek, son Pablo Manzarek, Pablo’s wife Sharmin and their three children Noah, Apollo and Camille. Funeral arrangements are pending. The family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please make a memoriam donation in Ray Manzarek’s name at

Below, a post-Jim Morrison Doors do “Love Me Two Times” on Germany’s Beat Club TV show, with Manzarek taking over the vocal duties:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Oliver Stone’s epic re-imagining of ‘JFK’ and ‘The Doors’: ‘Break On Through With JFK’
11:08 am


The Doors
Oliver Stone
Dana Gould

I hated Oliver Stone’s The Doors but found JFK quite thrilling. So this radical new concept from Stone could only be an improvement on his woeful take on Jim Morrison.

When will this be available on Blu-ray? I can hardly wait. Could a mash-up of Platoon and Natural Born Killers be in the pipeline? Mickey and Mallory go to My Lai.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Light My Fire’: Is the very best Doors cover, ever, by Shirley Bassey?
03:10 pm


The Doors
Shirley Bassey

Well, I think it is.

When my wife and I got together and our record collections were merged, I was pleased to see that I was marrying a fellow Shirley Bassey fan. We were in firm agreement on the Welsh songbird’s cover of The Doors’ “Light My Fire” from her 1970 comeback album, Shirly Bassey is Really Something. Both of us had used it DJing. I don’t know about Tara, but it was something I played all the time. As in every time I DJ’d. Every single time.

Shirly Bassey is Really Something was, and still is, an album that you can find for between 25 cents and a dollar in virtually any used record store. It’s amazing, an A+ album, in my opinion. Considering that nearly all of the songs are cover versions—albeit skillfully selected ones—it’s a pretty cohesive listening experience. Aside from “Light My Fire,” she does the best version of George Harrison’s “Something” this side of Frank Sinatra, as well as incredible takes on “Easy to Be Hard” (from the musical Hair), Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” and what is probably the definite performance of Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life,” one of the most powerful love songs ever written, and made all the better with that amazing voice of hers. (The only other version that’s anywhere near as good as Bassey’s comes from a similarly powerful “belter,” Scott Walker).

“Easy to Be Hard”:

Below, Shirley Bassey performs “Light My Fire,” backed by a large orchestra, on her 1973 All About Shirley TV special and just kills it:

More Shirley Bassey after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘First Love’: Jim Morrison’s UCLA film from 1964

In 1964, Jim Morrison made the short film First Love as part of his UCLA Film course. This version has been re-cut to The Doors track “The Spy” by Nuno Monteiro, which fits rather well.

Bonus - alternative version of Morrison’s film after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Doors performing ‘Stairway To Heaven’
09:14 pm


The Doors
Stairway To Heaven

Okay I lied. Morrison was dead months before “Stairway To Heaven” was released. What we have here is The Australian Doors in a highly entertaining video that manages to take the piss out on both bands.

This performance appeared on Australian TV show The Money Or The Gun, which ran for one season (1989-90) and each week featured a guest performer doing a version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven,” over 25 in all.

I’ve picked three “Stairway” covers I like: Elvis, The Doors and The Beatles.

More “stairways” after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rarely seen footage of The Doors during ‘L.A. Woman’ recording session
12:04 pm


The Doors
L.A. Woman

The Doors perform “Crawling King Snake” in the Elektra Records studios in 1970 as part of a promo for the soon-to-be released album L.A Woman. Morrison would be dead less than a year after this film was shot.

This footage was produced by ABC Australia for TV program “Getting To Know.”

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Skating around Los Angeles

I loathe The Doors, but their song “L.A. Woman” works nicely in this skate video featuring Kenny Anderson, Alex Olson, Braydon Szafranski, as well as Doors members Robbie Krieger and John Densmore.

It’s very... El Lay.


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Doors: Soundstage Performances 1967-69

A little something for a Sunday, 3 excellent showcases from The Doors recorded in Toronto, Denmark and New York between 1967 and 1969. With introductions and interviews with Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger.

Track listing:

Toronto 1967
01. “The End”
Performance Europe 1968 - Denmark TV
02. “Whiskey Bar”
03. “Back Door Man”
04. “Love Me Two Times”
05. “When The Music´s Over
06. “Unknown Soldier”
New York 1968 PBS ‘Critique’ 1969
07. “Follow Me Down”
08. “Whiskey Bar”
09. “Back Door Man”
10. “Wishful Sinful”
11. “Build Me A Woman”
Critique  interview with The Doors
12. “The Soft Parade”

Now let’s all have a good week!


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Listen to newly discovered Doors track: ‘She Smells So Nice’
11:35 am


The Doors

When producer Bruce Botnick was putting together the new 40th anniversary edition of the Doors classic L.A. Woman, he discovered the tape of an unreleased song recorded during those sessions titled “She Smells So Nice.”

Considering how many times this album has been released and re-released over four decades (the 5.1 surround mix in the Perception box set that came out in 2006 is the one I listen to, it’s great) and that this is probably the final time it’ll come out on any kind of disc media, it’s about time they gave the public a lil’ something new.

Pre-order the new 40th anniversary edition of L.A. Woman at Amazon.

  She Smells So Nice by The Doors Official

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Doors unreleased Christmas album
10:04 pm


The Doors

Light My Christmas.

Available now for the first time… The lost recordings of one of rock and roll’s most mysterious bands… In rare Yuletide spirit, The Doors… Light my Christmas...

This puts me in a festive spirit.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection: Greil Marcus’s ‘The Doors’
09:15 pm


The Doors
Greil Marcus

Listening to The Doors’ second album, Strange Days, while peaking on half a tab of Purple Owsley was one of those mindbending events that alter the course of a young man’s life forever. I was 16 years old, living in the suburbs of Virginia and, with the exception of a couple of freak friends, was pretty much alone in the world. There weren’t a lot of support systems during the Summer Of Love in the American South for a kid who wanted to explore his spiritual side. Organized religion had more than failed me, it terrified me. Catholicism spooked me so bad that even the sight of a nun or priest would send me rushing in a cold sweat in the direction of the nearest mental exit sign.

Getting LSD was the easy part. Knowing the best way to navigate the experience was the challenge. You just took the trip and put your faith in the loving hands of the cosmos. At least that’s what I did. Jim Morrison and his band mates were the dark guides on my solitary psychedelic journey.

Well the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end!

The Doors’ apocalyptic rock might seem like an entry way to a bad trip, but for me their music echoed and expanded upon an interior shadow world I had always been drawn to and their anti-authoritarianism played into my distrust of bully gods and their black-robed hitmen. LSD gave me a glimpse into the spiraling DNA that contained everything I needed to know about the Universe and all I had to do was crack the code.The Doors provided the soundtrack in my search for the key. A search that continues to this day. Breaking through to the other side turned out to be harder than I imagined.

Jim Morrison was the first rock star that tapped into the same rich vein of poetic dreaming that had lured me into the web of the French surrealists and the American counter-culture. Here was a young Navy brat, like myself, who drew inspiration from Rimbaud, Baudelaire, the Beats, The Living Theater and cinema. He took it all in and spun it back out into lyric-driven music that was familiar and strange at the same time. Intense and filled with mystery and sex, you couldn’t call it pop, but you could dance to it….or melt to it like a pillar of Biblical salt. In my rock and roll world, Morrison was the benign high priest who led me not so gently into a dark night of the soul shot through with glistening shards of seductive light.

Along with most of the rock groups I grew up with, I don’t listen to The Doors these days. The iconic songs of my youth are etched in my genes - musical scarification. I hear them whenever I want by tilting my head in the direction of the Akashic records that spin on turntables somewhere in the Bardo. Years of hearing “Light My Fire” and “When The Music’s Over” on classic rock radio has dulled some of the magic for me. Yet I still get excited when I see a new book on The Doors, particularly when it’s written by someone who was “there.” The thought that hidden secrets might be unlocked from old songs making them feel new again or that some lost piece of history has been unearthed like a rock and roll version of the Dead Sea Scrolls triggers little jolts of excitement along my spine as electric as a Nicolai Tesla neck massage. Yes, hope springs eternal for fools like me.

Greil Marcus’s new book The Doors: A Lifetime Of Listening To Five Mean Years teased me into thinking there might be something fresh to be said about The Doors. Marcus has a rep for knowing a thing or two about rock and roll and pop culture, so I assumed he’d bring something to the mix that lesser writers managed to overlook, you know, a different perspective. But Marcus fails in almost every respect to engage the reader. Even the most devout Doors’ fan will find this slim volume of overstuffed prose and wild tangents a numbing experience. The Marcus perspective consists of bloated descriptions of Doors’ songs and performances, descriptions that are so subjective and adjective heavy that at times it’s like reading Olympia Press fetish porn by someone named “Anonymous.”

The Doors is less a book about the band than it is the experience of being subjected to Marcus’s stream of consciousness vamps on Thomas Pynchon, cult flick Pump Up The Volume, Oliver Stone’s dreadful Doors movie, Val Kilmer’s post-Morrison career, 20th century pop art, Eduardo Paolozzi, the Manson Family and so on. None of which he connects in any compelling way to the subject at hand (the subject becoming less clear as the book lurches along). It’s as if Marcus put some of The Doors’ music on shuffle and started writing whatever popped into his head - a Jackson Pollock action painting connected to The Doors by the mere juxtaposition of sharing the same room as their music. There are threads of elegant symmetry in Marcus’s writing but the center wobbles like a bead of sweat on a brooding hipster’s brow.

Read The Doors to get inside of Greil Marcus’s head if that’s of interest to you. He’s a smart guy and the book gives him an opportunity to show it off. But as a book about one of the planet’s great rock bands, The Doors is a brainy wankfest in which little of any significance is actually said. No amount of pop culture name-dropping and metaphoric over-kill in describing The Doors’ art can obscure the fact that there’s a big hole where the soul of a book ought to be. Marcus claims to be a Doors’ fan and yet there’s little love for the band between the pages of this frustratingly irrelevant book. The Doors may have been a labor of love for Marcus, but for the reader it’s just labor.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the south of France, an overweight bearded poet is writing his autobiography about his early days as a rock star: The End by J.M.

Video: The Doors interviewed in New York in 1969 for public television.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Pissing on Jim Morrison’s grave

Ray Manzarek desperately attempts to resurrect the 40 year old corpse of Jim Morrison.
Yesterday, on the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger played a Doors gig after visiting Morrison’s grave site at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Fronted by one of the band’s endless series of faux Lizard Kings, Morrison look-a-like David Brock of Doors cover band Wild Child, Manzarek and Krieger did their best to remind anyone watching why their music careers have been utterly insignificant since Morrison died. John Densmore had the good taste and wisdom to not attend.

Advice to Manzarek: stop pissing on your legacy. I know your Muse - and cash cow- abandoned you when Jim checked out in that bathtub but your determination to milk every last drop out of the Doors’ legacy has been arrogant, pathetic and shameless. If you must perform, call up the former members of your Doors knock-off Nite City. They could probably use the work. And Ian Astbury has probably got some holes in his Cult tour schedule. Every time you drag out another version of The Doors, you remind us all of how utterly empty the band is without Jim’s voice and presence.

Last night in Paris, the “Doors” played “Riders On The Storm” with all of the conviction of a jaded lounge band eternally grinding it out in a Ramada Inn somewhere in Hell. May the wrath of the ghost of the Lizard King be upon them.

“When the music’s over
Turn out the lights”

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The performance that got The Doors banned from The Ed Sullivan Show

This is the infamous performance of “Light My Fire” by The Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show in September of 1967.

Jim Morrison and the band had been asked by the producer of the Sullivan show, Bob Precht, to alter the lyrics of the song so as to eliminate the phrase “we couldn’t get much higher.” Sullivan’s sponsors didn’t dig the idea that the song’s lyrics might suggest drug use. The band agreed to change the lyrics but come show time Morrison sang the lyrics as originally written. As a result, The Doors were banned from ever again appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. As if it really mattered. The Doors were unstoppable and nothing, certainly not a TV variety show, was going to get in their way.

While The Doors banishment by Sullivan is an oft told tale, the video footage of the performance has only been available on the Internet in low quality truncated form. Here’s a good quality clip of the performance in full.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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