Taking Sides: Pink Flag vs. Chairs Missing vs. 154

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I apologize if we've done this one before... sure it's kind of an obvious one, but I have a hunch it says a lot about a person's tastes. Me, I can't decide between Chairs Missing and 154; I thought CM for a while, but I listened to 154 again the other night and I was completely floored--moreso than I've ever been by that album. So, fire away.

Clarke B., Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Good thread. Hmmm - hard to decide, but I think Chairs Missing is it.

Dave225, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

154, then the other two second equal. Reasons later.

mark s, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Depends what you're looking for. Chairs Missing is the best Wire album; Pink Flag is the best album by anyone ever.

(Also, there are few joys greater than being with a friend who wants advice on what albums to buy and who's never heard Wire, and telling them to get one or the other, depending on their tastes, and then getting a call later that day saying "holy GOSH this is good.")

154 certainly has its pleasures ("On Returning" = heartstopping), but it's also flawed in a way the other two aren't. (Does anybody want to wave the flag for "A Touching Display"?)

Someday I must tell you all the story of how I learned about Pink Flag.

Douglas, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

PF

Tom, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

PF = Pinefox?

I would have to say Chairs Missing.

Nicole, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

as an album, straight through...PINK FLAG. It's just perfect.

Gage-o, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

'Chairs Missing'. For 'Outdoor Miner' above all else (esp. the alb version w/out the pointless piano interlude.) Pink Flag is possibly underrated tho' - 20 songs! Now that's what I call punk... I also like the 'Behind The Curtain' rarities etc. comp.

154 HAS got the sublime 'Map Ref' ("chorus!") on it, but is overall a bit too gloomy industrial-gothy-prog for me.

Am I alone in finding post-154 Wire almost utterly w/out merit?

Andrew L, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

All 3 obv. classic, but I'd go for Pink Flag and 154 as jointly ahead of CM. At gunpoint I'd go for PF.

Dr. C, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm with the doctor--Pink Flag, then 154, then Chairs Missing. All three are as good as anything from the era.

dan, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Today, it's a three-way tie for first.

After 154, there are some good moments -- "Ahead" being the favorite by a country mile.

Andy K., Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"A Touching Display" is easily my favourite Wire song and one of my favourite rock songs ever. More perfect than "Heroin." I usually feel like the album has reached its conclusion with the song and don't need to play the rest. What's to dislike? I haven't heard Chairs Missing and I didn't really get Pink Flag but 154 is magnificent.

I bought a ticket you took a walk so much to say we're unable to talk, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

154 -- *and* I like "A Touching Display," thanks very much. The first two albums are equally great, mind you, but 154 seems to exist on this abstract plane all its own.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Pink Flag, then 154, then Chairs Missing. And yes, I like The Ideal Copy a-okay too, and parts of A Bell is a Cup..., though it's true that neither is up to the same standard as the original trilogy. It's really a case of being judged by your own high water mark--the first two or three post-reunion albums blow away the vast majority of the other material being released at the same time.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Pink flag, followed closely by chairs missing. great cover art on those two.

fritz, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

20 songs! Now that's what I call punk

What I call punk is Document/Eyewitness. Best/Worst live album ever made.

Dave225, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The single immediately after 154 = "Our Swimmer" is poss.better even than anything on 154 (and therefore by logic the first two also).

mark s, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"Chairs Missing". It's the wussy choice for those of us who can't bear to ditch either "Pink Flag" or "154"..

Mary's a Dyke, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Pink Flag = "Oh, wow!" (uttered after first 3 songs)

Chairs Missing = "HOLY SHIT!" (realized about the time "Mercy" finishes)

154 = "Hmm...interesting..." (thought while stroking chin during the course of entire album, excepting a brief HOLY WOW SHIT during "Map Ref.")

1985-1990: The A-Sides = "Hey, they DIDN'T suck after 154! Nice!"

David Raposa, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I vote for chairs missing, poss one of the best ever rekords (IMO) Pink Phlag surely cannot be thee ultimate punk rekkid, 'cuz it has a member ov GRYPHON doing BVs on 1 track (TRUE!!!!)

Norman Phay, Wednesday, 9 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

4got 2 mention: It's a four-way tie not a twee-way tie when you throw Colin Newman's A-Z into the deb8. (Re Tape edits/loops during "I've Waited Ages: Martin Swope, eat yr heart out.)

Andy K., Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

So let us say that one has these 3 Wire albums, and would care to explore the misunderstood recordings that followed such masterful work - would you recommend A-Z as a good place to go? (I know this used CD place nearby that probably has a copy; I swore not to shop there ever again, but if A-Z is it, then I'll bite my pride and go.)

David Raposa, Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

If you don't go out right now and get A-Z then I'll specifically berate you vociferously in February.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Ned and Buffalo Bill agree with me hurrah!

Andy K., Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Time to put the lotion on David's skin.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

DEAR GOD, STOP THAT! If anyone types a sentence anywhere close to that horrible phrase uttered by BB when he's giving his mangina a test-drive, I swear I will actually scream.

OK, then. Off to that stupid selling-promo-CDs-at-full-price ass store right about now.

David Raposa, Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

DEAR GOD, STOP THAT!

I'm keeping this in mind for the future, you realize.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The typical line is that Pink Flag is the punk rawk record, and that from there on out they get increasingly "difficult." I think though that PF is probably *more* difficult in a sense than CM or (esp.) 154. Perhaps I haven't given it enough time or attention, but half the time when it's on I don't even notice it's there, or the songs just fly by (it having songs < 1 min doesn't help I'm sure). It feels like more of an exercise--"let's make the absolute most minimalist punk imaginable"--than say 154, which to my ears is far more texturally interesting, musically varied, and in a sense beautiful.

Clarke B., Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Actually that's a really good point. The whole line about short = instantly lovable sort of becomes a bit shaky when dealing with the songs on Pink Flag - I found I had to play them twice as much just to get a feel for them.

As to the question at hand: Chairs Missing is my sentimental favourite because I bought it during my first post- punk affair and it had a huge effect. Of the other two, I can't automatically say which I prefer, but I tend pull out 154 a bit more than Pink Flag, probably for the same reasons as Clarke suggests.

Tim, Friday, 11 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

five years pass...

Chairs Missing

chaki, Thursday, 30 August 2007 01:19 (thirteen years ago) link

154

Steve Shasta, Thursday, 30 August 2007 01:25 (thirteen years ago) link

154 for the unstoppable one-two punch of "The 15th" and "Two People in a Room". I'd go with the slight consensus above and put 154 and PF just above CM. All three great though.

Z S, Thursday, 30 August 2007 01:30 (thirteen years ago) link

154 is unspeakably boring and unintentionally funny in spots (the fussy grammar in "I Should Have Known Better" is worthy of an Evelyn Waugh character). I'll take the C-90 I once made of it, and its two predecessors.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 30 August 2007 01:52 (thirteen years ago) link

I find I cherry-pick songs from Wire albums all over the place. I dont know if Ive ever played anything but 154 all the way thru more than once. But it is a great album.

Trayce, Thursday, 30 August 2007 02:15 (thirteen years ago) link

Actually, the collection "On Returning (1977-1979)" did a decent job summing up things, about as well as a single-disc could do, at least.

1 1.2.X.U. (1:56)
2 It's So Obvious (0:52)
3 Mr Suit (1:25)
4 Three Girl Rhumba (1:24)
5 Ex-Lion Tamer (2:18)
6 Lowdown (2:27)
7 Straight Line (0:46)
8 106 Beats That (1:13)
9 Strange (3:58)
10 Reuters (3:02)
11 Field Day For The Sundays (0:29)
12 Champs (1:47)
13 Feeling Called Love (1:22)
14 I Am The Fly (3:07)
15 Dot Dash (2:24)
16 Practise Makes Perfect (4:06)
17 French Film Blurred (2:35)
18 Another The Letter (1:08)
19 I Feel Mysterious Today (1:56)
20 Men 2nd (1:42)
21 Marooned (2:20)
22 Sand In My Joints (1:51)
23 Outdoor Miner (2:51)
24 A Question Of Degree (3:11)
25 I Should Have Known Better (3:50)
26 Two People In A Room (2:09)
27 Blessed State (3:28)
28 The Other Window (2:09)
29 40 Versions (3:28)
30 A Touching Display (6:55)
31 On Returning (2:06)

Z S, Thursday, 30 August 2007 02:39 (thirteen years ago) link

Wait...it's missing The 15th. Worthless collection, obviously. It's also missing Map Ref, but I've always thought that song was a little overrated, myself.

Z S, Thursday, 30 August 2007 02:40 (thirteen years ago) link

154 - although this thread caused me to put on Chairs Missing just now and... yeah.

Are people into that Send/Read and Burn business? I've never quite been able to get into the groove with those, but perhaps I'm missing out.

Davey D, Thursday, 30 August 2007 06:59 (thirteen years ago) link

Personally/subjectively it's a toss-up between Pink Flag and 154, though Chairs Missing is probably the best album of the three.

latebloomer, Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:06 (thirteen years ago) link

THAT DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE

chaki, Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:16 (thirteen years ago) link

Why not? I like Pink flag and 154 more, but Chairs Missing is the more cohesive, "objectively" better album of the three.

latebloomer, Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:33 (thirteen years ago) link

i guess the thing is it's hard to choose between them all so i'm trying to have my cake and eat it too

latebloomer, Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:35 (thirteen years ago) link

we might need to take this one to the polls

poortheatre, Thursday, 30 August 2007 09:36 (thirteen years ago) link

That "On Returning" is fine. If the listener wants more, there are more jewels to be found. (Mannequin and Map Ref and the 15th and so on)

Mark G, Thursday, 30 August 2007 09:44 (thirteen years ago) link

Missing those 3 songs off On Returning was kind of WTF. I like the live version of 12XU though - basically the only reason I still own the CD, having bought the albums separately since I got it.

Colonel Poo, Thursday, 30 August 2007 09:58 (thirteen years ago) link

a Wire collection without "The 15th" is like a Britney comp without "Toxic."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 30 August 2007 11:00 (thirteen years ago) link

"154" for me although "Chairs Missing" is great too. "Pink Flag" is the obvious loser here, for me anyway.

Geir Hongro, Friday, 31 August 2007 08:03 (thirteen years ago) link

I have that other compilation, "The A List", which was based somehow on votes from journalists I think? It also omits "the 15th" (in fact to my shame, I discovered that song by the cover by Fischerspooner pls dont kill me). But it does have "Ahead", "Queen of Ur and the King of Um" and "Serious of Snakes", all of which I love.

Trayce, Friday, 31 August 2007 08:10 (thirteen years ago) link

That comp is basically all the "Mute" label stuff, so it wouldn't be on there.

Mark G, Friday, 31 August 2007 08:34 (thirteen years ago) link

The Wire song I keep playing all the time is "Sand In My Joints"! It crept up on me that one! After many years.

Tom D., Friday, 31 August 2007 08:38 (thirteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...

the answer is Chairs Missing. Chaki was right all along and we chased him away ;_;

Roberto Spiralli, Saturday, 9 August 2008 05:42 (twelve years ago) link

Mother fucking Chairs Missing is the goddamn answer and I still don't have it on my iPod yet. I shall correct this RIGHT NOW.

Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You, Saturday, 9 August 2008 05:54 (twelve years ago) link

two months pass...

Chairs Missing is an absolutely brilliant record, as I am discovering thru repeat listens. I need the other two, like, now.

OMG it's so good. "I Am The Fly!"

Also the version of Outdoor Miner with the "pointless" piano interlude is, like, squee etc

100 tons of hardrofl beyond zings (Just got offed), Monday, 20 October 2008 21:46 (twelve years ago) link

anyone?

100 tons of hardrofl beyond zings (Just got offed), Monday, 20 October 2008 22:07 (twelve years ago) link

Pink Flag might be a little too punk for you.

Tom D OTM about Sand In My Joints. Love that one.

I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO (Colonel Poo), Monday, 20 October 2008 22:14 (twelve years ago) link

I actually think "French Film Blurred" is probably the best track, and one of the best songs of the era that I've heard.

100 tons of hardrofl beyond zings (Just got offed), Monday, 20 October 2008 22:17 (twelve years ago) link

154 is one of my very favourite albums ever - LJ i think you'd prefer it to CM

jabba hands, Monday, 20 October 2008 22:27 (twelve years ago) link

I've only heard very, very good things.

100 tons of hardrofl beyond zings (Just got offed), Monday, 20 October 2008 22:30 (twelve years ago) link

chairs missing was the first wire album I ever heard and still my favorite of these three.

akm, Monday, 20 October 2008 23:33 (twelve years ago) link

CM was the first one i got into as well & i think it's the most immediate of the 3 (not as weird as 154 and not as stark & conceptual as PF, altho they all have great hooky songs obv) but omg 154 is just next level shit, so focused & intense & pop all at the same time. it's also hilarious (not unintentionally as suggested upthread - the screaming at the end of Indirect Enquiries is total comedy schlock). and i find it emotional and moving, secretly think it's a break-up album in fact, full of all these attempts to approach the raw fact of an ending relationship from various brainy articulate perspectives with the intensity coming from the fact that they realise they can't think their way out of pain. and i guess it was a break-up album in a way, marking the end of one phase of the band, so it doesn't just have to be about romantic relationships, altho i think a lot of the lyrics hit hard in that context too.

plus so many of the guitar sounds are just siiiiiick.

jabba hands, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 01:27 (twelve years ago) link

Still think 154 is difficult in an unrewarding way.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 01:41 (twelve years ago) link

i find it easier to listen to than either of the others! more variation in colour & tone, or something.

jabba hands, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 01:44 (twelve years ago) link

and i guess it was a break-up album in a way, marking the end of one phase of the band,

Newman's solo album A-Z was released the year after 154 and originally intended as the fourth Wire album. I believe everybody except Lewis is on it as well, so not really.

Anyway, I 154 is great, with perhaps higher highs than Chairs Missing. It also has a couple of sour moments, so slightly less stellar overall.

milling through the grinder, grinding through the mill (S-), Tuesday, 21 October 2008 01:51 (twelve years ago) link

yeah, i don't get how 154 is difficult. though it depends on what you are used to, i suppose. i find that whole album so beautiful. and dramatic. it sweeps me up. i think that album acually makes me a better person when i'm listening to it. or at the very least it fools me into thinking that i could be someone very cool someday.

scott seward, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 01:51 (twelve years ago) link

i love A-Z so much too! listening to that is like mainlining some friggin' perfect postpunk bassline heaven. i'm still looking for my soulmate who loves commercial suicide as much as i do. okay, maybe not a soulmate, but it's one of my favorite albums of the 80's and i don't know too many people who love it. or anyone, really. (i even love It Seems, the one that came after commercial suicide.)

scott seward, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 01:55 (twelve years ago) link

yeah, i don't get how 154 is difficult. though it depends on what you are used to, i suppose. i find that whole album so beautiful. and dramatic.

"On Returning" and "The 15th" conjure that feeling -- something so awesomely, impassively cool-as-in-collected and cool-as-in-chic kinda way. Stuff like "A Touching Display" and "Once is Enough" are more histrionic than dramatic. Every time I approach this album, I'm repelled. I try to describe that suspicion here.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 02:00 (twelve years ago) link

I have never been able to appreciate 154 as much as the first two, and Chairs is definitely my fave.

sleeve, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 03:26 (twelve years ago) link

re: the band break-up, point taken. i'm probably reading too much into the account of the fractious 154 sessions in this (pretty interesting) essay by mike thorne that i read a few years ago: http://www.stereosociety.com/154.html

jabba hands, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 03:33 (twelve years ago) link

All three are untouchable Godlike works of unbelievable genius.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 03:49 (twelve years ago) link

i'm still looking for my soulmate who loves commercial suicide as much as i do. okay, maybe not a soulmate, but it's one of my favorite albums of the 80's and i don't know too many people who love it. or anyone, really.

Errrrrrrrrr, me.

Ich Ber ein Binliner (Tom D.), Tuesday, 21 October 2008 08:55 (twelve years ago) link

Yay!

scott seward, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 09:18 (twelve years ago) link

(i even love It Seems, the one that came after commercial suicide.)

All together now...

"An imprrrrrrressive beginning and a move towards China
Implicit and duplicit, particle and meta particle!"

Ich Ber ein Binliner (Tom D.), Tuesday, 21 October 2008 09:22 (twelve years ago) link

Is it weird that my favorite song on 154 is "A Blessed State"?

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 13:46 (twelve years ago) link

No

Ich Ber ein Binliner (Tom D.), Tuesday, 21 October 2008 13:47 (twelve years ago) link

It would be weird if your favorite was The Other Window, or A Touching Display.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 21:24 (twelve years ago) link

chairs missing
tie for 2nd

that stereosociety link was most informative, gave me new appreciation for how they got some of those sounds

6335, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 22:58 (twelve years ago) link

love all three

I'm glad the chihuahua beat it this wkend (latebloomer), Tuesday, 21 October 2008 23:02 (twelve years ago) link

Off the nut I have to say Chairs Missing but now I have to go back and listen to them all again to really decide.

"French Film Blurred" = my favourite Wire song, usually.

staggerlee, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 00:42 (twelve years ago) link

154 beats Pink Flag by just a hair. Their my #23 and #26 favorites of all time. Chairs Missing is #194. Certainly not bad, but I always felt like it was a transitional album.

Fastnbulbous, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 05:22 (twelve years ago) link

they're, not their. I'm going senile. And what am I saying, my top 200 of all time is more than not bad, they're all awesome. Ever have a beer when you're almost over a cold and feel like crap again?

Fastnbulbous, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 05:24 (twelve years ago) link

1) pink flag
2) 154
3) chairs missing

I love pink flag cuz it plays like a compilation. there are so many moves on it that bunches of punk/indie/pop bands would pull over the next decade, except wire probably did them better and what's more all at once in '77.

my favorite song on 154 *is* "a touching display". I guess that makes me weird? that guitar at the end! it eats the universe.

honestly I have a hard time listening to chairs missing all the way through. I get bored and turn it off.

Edward III, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 05:59 (twelve years ago) link

three years pass...
six years pass...

I'm getting that new deluxe Chairs Missing w book (not bookLET) etc in mail today. Can't wait to see/hear it. PF should be here tomorrow. And next payday i will order 154. I love them all really but 154 contains the only dud out of all three afaiac and that is I Should've Known Better. Whew! That thing sounds so off putting (the awful speaking parts) and it starts the fucking record, it put me off 154 for literally years. A Touching Display is awesome however. Also got the cd/dvd of Wire On The Box which is also amazing and highly recommended to fans.

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:21 (two years ago) link

Took me years to accept Lewis' vocals.

I like queer. You like queer, senator? (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 13:28 (two years ago) link

Yeah, he can sound very pretentious. Hi, Alfred!

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:35 (two years ago) link

hi!

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 13:36 (two years ago) link

And yes I like queer too. And i used to like beer but i haven't drank in years.

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:37 (two years ago) link

"I Should Have Known Better" is great, the real dud is "Once Is Enough".

Zach Same (Tom D.), Friday, 5 October 2018 13:38 (two years ago) link

"Ambitious" recorded years later has a laughable part too

ARE YOU HOT
ARE YOU HOT
ARE YOU HOT
ARE YOU HOT
ARE YOU HOT
I FEEEEL AAAAABITTIOUUSSSSSS

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 13:39 (two years ago) link

my last post is gonna look awfully funny when yr screen name changes. Lol!!

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:40 (two years ago) link

Lol alfred that does sound funny. Don't know that one at all.

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:41 (two years ago) link

On the On The Box dvd the version of Once Is Enough smokes!

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:43 (two years ago) link

I Should've Known Better wouldn't smoke if it was on fire!

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Friday, 5 October 2018 13:44 (two years ago) link

I Should've Known Better is fantastic. You pepole are insane. The turkey of all turkeys is The Other Window.

kornrulez6969, Friday, 5 October 2018 14:15 (two years ago) link

154 contains the only dud out of all three afaiac and that is I Should've Known Better

this is probably the wrongest thing posted to ILX in 2018

imago, Friday, 5 October 2018 14:22 (two years ago) link

but hey, opinions!

imago, Friday, 5 October 2018 14:22 (two years ago) link

at least we agree Graham Lewis' doomy doggerel and funeral camp were duds!

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 14:22 (two years ago) link

I don't! Go and listen to 23 Years Too Late until you recant

imago, Friday, 5 October 2018 14:25 (two years ago) link

Unless I'm wrong, Lewis sings Sand In My Joints which has always been among my very favorite Wire songs.

kornrulez6969, Friday, 5 October 2018 14:31 (two years ago) link

I like it too.

I should point out, for fairness' sake, that Lewis was for many years the hottie in the band.

You like queer? I like queer. Still like queer. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 14:31 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

chairs, missing

adam, Thursday, 19 November 2020 23:28 (two weeks ago) link

A-Z won, 'f I've four.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 20 November 2020 16:26 (one week ago) link


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