posted on August 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

during the early nineties

a guy from emi gave me a demo tape that knocked my sox off

it was some unknown from melbourne called margot smith

i rushed home n played it to my then girlfriend karin jansson

who was also similarly blown away

here at last was true talent

an incredible tuneful mellifluous voice

the only voice comparable was kate bush

the same power n glory

the same sweeping range operatic mastery

the lyrics n melodies were fucking brilliant

my fave lyric was from a song called dream

the song started with these incredible (to me) words

“everytime you say you want to die

i cant remember what you said”

and contained in those words n the way she sang em

is a world of ambiguity sadness denial and fantasy

did i want to produce her?

fuck yes!

i had my studio at surry hills then i guess this was 91

unfortunately i was going down that sad bad road with the “white lady”

although i guess you could say i was still in the honeymoon phase

margot turned up n we kinda hit it off i guess

she was precocious irreverent curious n amazingly naive

she was kinda annoying too

but any fool could see she was a Major talent

one of those rare individuals who could not sing a wrong note

her voice swooped soared roared crooned cruised and bruised but always with perfect pitch

she never faltered once

and she never sang a song the same way twice neither

she constantly changed the words n melodies

she did not see a song as a fixed idea

she just let it happen everytime n her muse never deserted her

she just made lyrics up on the spot too a la grant mclennan

words flew into her head outta thin air

i recorded half the album with her

eddie rayner from split enz did the other half

we co wrote a bunch of songs together too

“adored ” is margot having a pot shot at me

oh yes you are adored by a multitude of whores

selling their story at the door

oh i’d love to be adored as you are and you are”

she saw me battling the gear

she was just starting her long battle with the bottle too

so we were quite a pair

the engineer demanded a thousand bucks off emi as a ganja budget

and got it!

its a bloody great record

i wrote some good music for it

margot herself n her then boyfriend michael came up with the goods too

the torch song was my music n margots words about a brief affair i had had

she’d seen it happening n captured it all so succinctly

lifetime was another co write

listen to that voice n those words

“and if life could take you in his arms n hold you

and if time would let you sleep with him enfold you”

and  margots “bellyman ” which she wrote on her own

“here i come , i’m the bellyman come to fill you up when you cant get full”

and of course that fabulous song dream the one that sold me on her

orchestral swelling guitars and margots wonderful singing

“you will be, i will be open wide, you n i know why”

god it still gives me gooseflesh

the first album was very ornate very elizabethan very grand in its scope

due to a number of bungles n mistakes it came out n did nothing

absolutely nothing

it sank without a trace n margot lost her deal

it was inexplicable

in another time n place she woulda been a superstar

tori amos would have loved to have written some of those songs

the second album would be the opposite of all that

michael was gone

margot was on her own and still battling the booze

i had lost the  battle with the gear n i was a full on reclusive fucked up wreck

still we got together at the new karmic hit in rozelle

opposite my house in mansfield street

me n margot n tim p n peter k

we were her band

i would knock out something real rough

and we’d play it like crazy horse

2 n 3 chord songs

listen to creature

its the antithesis of the melodrama of the first record

its lowdown mean n nasty

the whole record is quite something

loaded with real pain n guts no more artifice

its one of those classic messed up albums full of visceral ache

simple music

simple bleak sketches

simple sad words

the sounds of talented people falling apart

some tracks are just me on guitar n margots voice

“stretches” for example

“what stretches before me always comes back to get me”

tim n peter contribute the minimalistic expertise just so right

totalled is like,  totalled, dude

totalled like me n margot were by then

wow it hurts just to listen to some it still

seek these records out

2 completely different beasts both incredible

the sad news is margot is now gravely ill

i’m gonna go round n see her as soon as she can receive a visitor or 2

she doesnt expect to be on this mortal plane for that much longer

she really did deserve success

she really did deserve recognition

those who have heard her are believers

she n i had our squabbles n fights

it was painful to watch each other succumb to our poisons

i miraculously got out

she wasnt so lucky

margot i always always believed in you

you should be bestriding the big stages of this world

cos you were one of the best i ever heard

peter koppes thinks the same

he took time out to play in her shortlived live band

margot you are beautiful

and your small devoted bunch of fans ADORE you

i’m crying as i write these words

i hear margots got one last record up her sleeve

i hope someone gets to hear it

i hope she can defy her grim medical prognosis

and get better n enjoy a little success

margot despite all my harsh words n stuff

i love you

i really do

you were a star that just burnt too bright for your own good

and the whole thing is just so unfair

people see if you can beg borrow or burn” sleeping with the lion”

or “taste”

you wont be disappointed

sk august 1 2010

selected songs

64 Responses to “margot smith : unbearably gifted”

  1. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen | 1 August 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    Phew…How to respond to a blog like this? I don’t know. It breaks my heart. My sister’s a recovering alcoholic. She’s been sober for 2 years. Very proud of her. But…

  2. avatar
    DavidP | 1 August 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    steve, sorry to hear this sad news about your old friend margot
    hopefully things can turn around for her
    a bug hug from you will lift her spirits no doubt

  3. avatar
    pernath | 1 August 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Steve, i’m playing Taste for weeks now. The fiery-flame-y sexy side of The Refo: with a female lead singer. And god what a fucking gorgeous album. You almost hear the friction between the main actors. There is so much hidden in there. Actually, Taste is one of my favourite albums. I love the many layers of her voice, the shades and nuances, the sudden harshness, then again sweet honey halos. What makes her superior to Tori (and even to Kate) is that you never get the impression of “vocal theatre n drama”. While Tori n Kate put on masks, Margot morphs her face. It’s sad to hear this story (I kept following after Taste, sent a mail every few year…a site was up..then down…). n at the same time I am so glad about how you won this battle. Thank you SK for the magic frame of Margot’s pictures.

    • avatar
      thetimebeing | 1 August 2010 at 8:23 pm #

      pernath coming from you thats quite a compliment
      i’ll read this to margot over the phone
      she needs some vindication
      i’m glad youre one of the elite band of believers

      • avatar
        Belfrank | 2 August 2010 at 2:05 am #

        I’m with Pernath on the uniqueness, magic and sad beauty of Taste. To this day it is testament to Margot’s talent that it remains one of the most incredible works that you, TP and PK have ever had a hand in. I recall hearing it for the first time at your place in Stockholm in 98. I will always play it often and have a great fondness for Margot’s great talent. Please pass on my love and encouragement.

  4. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen | 1 August 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    “What makes her superior to Tori (and even to Kate) is that you never get the impression of “vocal theatre n drama”. While Tori n Kate put on masks, Margot morphs her face.”

    Pernath, this alone entices me to seek out “Taste”. I could never get into Kate and Tori beacuse of the “vocal theatre and drama”, but if Margot is that much more real, I need to listen to her. Great comment!

    • avatar
      pernath | 2 August 2010 at 7:01 pm #

      Thomsen, go for it! I’m serious, and even kept my eulogy as short as possible.

      “Taste” is a cornucopia of mostly very brief songs, while “Sleeping…” is The Big Lush Pop Album (lightyears ahead of the Bohemia girl), still drenched in a certain vitriolic but sweet bitterness, if that makes any sense. I prefer Taste, just like, in art galleries, I prefer the sketches and drawings to the bigge oil paintings!

    • avatar
      eekie | 3 August 2010 at 7:18 am #

      I have to agree with you Thomas on never quite being able to get into Kate Bush or Tori Amos, even though theoretically I should love both. I’ll also seek out more from Margot.

  5. avatar
    Peter McNaughton | 1 August 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    I’ve had both CDs since their release, what wonderful music, and what a sad story … here’s hoping so much, for some kind of miracle.

  6. avatar
    hellbound heart | 1 August 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    christ, what heartache…..

    love always…..

  7. avatar
    Anonymous | 1 August 2010 at 9:59 pm #

  8. avatar
    One of the Lonely Spirits | 1 August 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Beautiful – thank you Steve. Margot is fighting so hard – I’m so proud of her, and of you.

  9. avatar
    Jeff Westover | 1 August 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    “Everything” performed live w/ PK and TimEbandit recorded from Australian TV.


  10. avatar
    Freddie | 1 August 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    I don’t know what to say upon hearing this terrible news
    but I do know that I am going to find her work and give it a good listen.
    Sorry about your friend.

  11. avatar
    lily was here | 1 August 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    Steve… thank you for writing about M. I read it out to her over the phone (you know her difficulties). Was so hard to do, to read it between the tears. And when i got to the bit about Adored she started to laugh (always a beautiful sound coming from her) – she realized you knew. I love you so much more xo If you’re reading this Ben and PK, hugs xo

    ps strange day here, the power’s going on and off all day (hence writing so late) but while searching through some old photos for Elise today I found the 2 laminated passes to Margot’s Taste album launch that have been oddly missing for years – dated 4th March 1998 – was it that long ago?

  12. avatar
    SLJ | 1 August 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    Never heard of your friend Margot before you wrote so beautifully and evocatively about her but I’ve found some of her music to listen to and will definitely have to find more. I’m sorry to hear that your friend and yourself are going through this sadness. I hope you can both find some peace.

  13. avatar
    plumlady | 1 August 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    Thanks for the tip of a good female record; I will check Margot out! It’s always so sad when such talent passes on; I’ve just come from a memorial jam for my recently passed drummer friend who had “led the life also”. They’ve replaced him in the band….which was kind of sad to see, but I know he would have wanted the rest of them to carry on. The new guy even resembles a younger version of Bobby; not sure if they meant to do so intentionally. A post from yesterday regarding watching your child replace you has really made me think this morning. As I have watched my own grow for 30 years now and that sure makes you realize just how much time has passed in your life and about the day when your time of dying comes about…and who has replaced you. Steve, you’ve got quite the odd situation with two sets of twins plus a single to replace you..and all female. You often write with a female point of view and your girls often seem to be your muses as well. I know that you will never be forgotten and those children will carry on for you, and then theirs, for eternity.

  14. avatar
    randompan | 2 August 2010 at 12:34 am #

    margot smith was a revelation upon first hearing your collaborations.
    of course, that feeling intensifies dramatically over time. i do hope
    you spend some time with her and pass along all the strong vibes for her found here at the time being.

    richard mc.

  15. avatar
    kevinN | 2 August 2010 at 12:55 am #

    Very sad to hear this. I absolutely love Taste. It was stolen from me once, and took me years to get it back (a certain Mr PK gifted me a copy while in Budapest). I listened to it many times since. I was always waiting for her to do something new. I guess some know she provided brilliant vocals on PK’s last solo album. Thats the last I heard of her. I need to track down the first album, thats sure. What a special artist…unique, inspiring, and truly unforgettable for those who got to listen to her.
    Best Wishes to you SK. Fancy new site you have here 🙂

  16. avatar
    Boydie | 2 August 2010 at 4:24 am #


    Steve’s right – you are beautiful and the records you made are fucking brilliant. When I came to oz in 97 on my first night I came down to see you play at the Harbourside and PK was in your band. I was mesmerised by your presence, your voice and your magical music. I am devestated to hear of your plight and send you much peace and love.


  17. avatar
    Ron Bonham | 2 August 2010 at 4:44 am #

    Thanks for those recomendations SK, will try and track them down, the one w/the Refo: sounds like a treat. And darn, it’s already August and it’s fading fast now…

  18. avatar
    Andreas | 2 August 2010 at 7:08 am #

    This is very, very sad. I had tried to keep ears up for any news about hter, I saw websites going up and down, I tried to follw her on MySpace, I ended up on You Tube and saw filmed live performances with PK, but nothing new. Now I understand… I have those two records, grabbed them somewhere down the line, and I also remember of a short lived project with JLK, Us, which yielded one of the most haunting songs I recall, We All Fall… strangely actual now. It’s been a long time since I listened to her, and now there’s nothing else I can do for her but play those records again on my MP3 and send out my warmest vibes to her. She is brilliant, and I am a believer… She sends shivers down the spine with that voice. How many acts I have come to know thanks to their association with the Church! And she’s among the very very best. I really don’t know what to do, but I wish I could do something. This is so sad.

  19. avatar
    Ryan | 2 August 2010 at 7:20 am #

    Beautifully written Steve. Fuck, it’s so sad to hear stuff like this. Taste is an incredible album. I first learned of it through some Church site because of your involvement, and I loved it from first listen. Vocals that soar and then drop down soft and clear, layered songs, an incredible achievement. It’s a fucking shame more people haven’t heard this record. So sorry to hear this news.

  20. avatar
    DavidR | 2 August 2010 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks for sharing those thoughts, loved both albums and also managed to catch Margot live with her band, i was so exited to get ‘taste’ autographed after the show by Margot – What a talent Margot Smith is preying for a miracle so we may yet manage to hear that beautiful voice of hers again


  21. avatar
    Richard | 2 August 2010 at 9:43 am #

    it’s mystifying isn’t it?
    the struck match between obscurity and recognition
    what better evidence than in the youtube link to ‘everything’ above
    great song
    charismatic performer
    impeccable live performance
    and the next song the host cuts to is by Hanson….

  22. avatar
    lily was here | 2 August 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Steve I always imagined your sister was M. You two are like one – musically, gifted genius twins. M’s music is so pure. There’s no bullshit, there are no lies, no shade, just dark and light. Sleeping With The Lion is utterly beautiful but TASTE with just you guys, Koppes, Powles etc – one of the most dynamic albums ever recorded. Now when I hear her sing An Arrangement, the lyrics in my head change to “if you think you’re sick of yourself, just try being somebody else” 🙁
    A travesty that she’s been forgotten by the music industry, an absolute travesty.

    To listen to Margot, go to her iLike space or – Adored, Profit, The Torch Song, Stretches, Righteous, Desperate to Pack and Fight It Out In Heaven are playing there. Steve, would love to hear anymore stories about her songs

  23. avatar
    princey | 2 August 2010 at 10:11 am #

    I’m so sorry to hear about Margot being so sick, it’s so sad. I remember seeing her support you at The Continental here in Melby years ago, her voice was so beautiful, everyone in the room mesmerised. I’m sure when she reads what you’ve written here sk, it’lll put a smile on her face.
    love Amanda
    P.S. Good idea putting up the player to hear some of Margot’s music.
    How do I get a pic into that box?????

    • avatar
      Andreas | 2 August 2010 at 5:23 pm #

      Hi Amanda, top right of this page, click “register” tab in the member section, that will bring you to a page where among other things you can upload an avatar, it’s important to register to prevent that somebody uses your nick to post comments, it has happened to someone here already, cheers Andreas

  24. avatar
    Donna | 2 August 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Steve – what sad news. I too, hope that she is able to defy her grim prognosis. I listened to “Dream” and the other 2 songs…if you didn’t tell me this was Margot singing, I would have guessed it was Kate Bush. Lovely song. Lovely tribute. God bless you both.

  25. avatar
    Donna | 2 August 2010 at 10:41 am #

    P.S. Just listened to Dream – again. No, not Kate Bush’s voice. But the song does remind me of Kate Bush. Pretty.

  26. avatar
    Jasperina | 2 August 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Steve, I felt a tingling shivver move through me as I read your thoughts about Margot. “Dreams” is so hauntingly beautiful and reminded me of the Kate’s Under The Ivy . We have a special kind of community here. Can I speak for us all in sending radiant light and love to your dear friend.

  27. avatar
    Anne Marie | 2 August 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Very sorry to hear that Margot is ill. I hope the prognosis is not as grave as it sounds and hope for a miraculous turnaround.

  28. avatar
    Name | 2 August 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    (you are) luckier, I guess, your’s was smack from what I gather; liquor seems quicker (no judgment, just thought). from the music I remember (I’ll go find it in the basement), she was beautiful… I didn’t ever know who she was other than an artist who sang beautifully (didn’t even know you guys were part of her life/recordings… never that much into reading the credits, just like listening) Wow!

    I hope she has lots of friends around her, as yourself, so she’ll know they care and will love her forever.

  29. avatar
    guitartist | 2 August 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Dear Steve,

    I have been reading the Timebeing every day for about 4 years and it is the only blog I read. I am writing to you from Indiana. I saw you play at the Music Mill and in NYC and Minnesota. I am 48 a painter, poet and guitarist/songwriter. You are so inspiring!!! Everything you have ever recorded is transcendent beauty. Your words
    are so important feelingwise… just to know that somsbody else on planet earth feels the same way that I do. I have decided to get a website, my own blog, record/release my music live a fulfilled life…I would love to share my paintings w/ you. Never underestimate your talent mate as your voice brings me peace, your lyrics intelligent and fun, your bass playing original and musically where the Beatles were headed. As James Taylor wrote you have a friend in me, a kindred spirit… stay in your flow… free to just be.
    I send you lasting peace and love.

  30. avatar
    Steven Krut | 2 August 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    That’s a sad story about Margot. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with her, but I listened to those songs you put up and I’m impressed. I will track down her albums and I will be thinking about her.

  31. avatar
    Andreas | 2 August 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Hi Steve, seems my comments for today are still awaiting moderation but there’s newer posts approved, perhaps there’s a computer mixup, can you see them? In case I’ll post again, cheers Andreas

  32. avatar
    SAW | 2 August 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    I want to say something, but I’m not sure what to say… upon listening to Margot today, I found her songs deep, fresh & inspiring as ever. Her tracks, are again, on heavy roation. In reading your blog entry, it was nice for you to shed light on her spirit.

  33. avatar
    Jasperina | 2 August 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    Hi Steve, seeking the magic carpet ride to a better place.

  34. avatar
    hellbound heart | 2 August 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    gorgeous music, a gorgeous soul… and thoughts with you….

    love always….

  35. avatar
    ethereal butterfly | 2 August 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    I wonder if she is the same woman who sings on Karmic Hits? I’ve been checking her out on Youtube – God, what a voice! I love Kate but God, Margot’s voice is out of this world & I’m disappointed that I’ve only just learnt of her. I’m hoping she can overcome this battle of spirit and defy the prognosis, as some, no, many people do. I’m going to send her some positive energy by buying an album or 2.
    Thinking of her and you for your beautiful empathy Sk.

  36. avatar
    big jake | 2 August 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    listened to the three songs you posted. No offense to everyone raving about Margot, but seriously, not that great. Sounds like all the rest of the 80’s drivel and not that great of songs to boot. Nice voice, granted, but come on you sycophants. If Steve told you that he liked bananarama you would all start commenting on their virtues. Give me a break.

  37. avatar
    DavidP | 2 August 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    its situations like these that bring our mortality into focus
    makes me think about what advice my current self would give to my younger self if I could go back in time
    makes me think about what advice would my future self give my current self if in the future I could come back in time to now
    good thing about that last one is you can take action on it now whilst there is still time, so I think its a very worthwhile exercise to do

    very best wishes to Margot from me, a complete stranger who only just heard about her and just heard a few of her songs

  38. avatar
    redgrevillea | 2 August 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    my god, a gorgeous girl with a gorgeous voice…looking at her photos and hearing her .. I really like her….hadn’t heard of her until now…. she was precocious irreverent curious n amazingly naive?? o man, that’s just gorgeous….just my kind…i really like her..

    …i really can’t stand what booze does to people, just breaks me….it shatters the body and psyche and the splinters are carried by loved ones forever….

    God bless her

  39. avatar
    redgrevillea | 2 August 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    god those songs just hook you in!!!!

  40. avatar
    isolde | 2 August 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    if you wrote her a song tell her now
    if you wrote about her tell her how
    something she said goes round in my head
    if you wrote her a song tell her now

  41. avatar
    BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 3 August 2010 at 3:12 am #

    An apology at this time or any time, is never to late. we have all acted or behaved the fool during this existence. a perfect gentleman knows no end to his adoration. you have such heartfelt feelings for this incredible songbird and lady. i am very proud of u as a human being to correct past behavior, it is never to late. Creature is an amazing song !!! Thank you so much for this gift today, I really enjoyed it, and another monumental accomplishment on guitar for Peter. He is spellbinding.

    As always,
    Darrin K.

  42. avatar
    Ellen | 3 August 2010 at 6:12 am #

    Oh, Steve, I’m so sorry to hear this tragic news. sigh…

    God only knows how many have ultimately succumbed to the bottle. I hope she’s got some strength remaining to make more music before she departs from this plane.

  43. avatar
    Tony Pucci | 3 August 2010 at 7:38 am #

    Margot is a very kind lady, and really bought into the spirit of helping me out on the “Songs for Jenny” charity CD with our track, called “Song for Jenny”. I dare say she was even more enthused than I was! I believe in you, Margot, as you sang. Love you. Will call you soon. Thanks for this blog, SK, Peace.

  44. avatar
    Doc | 3 August 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Wow. Simply beautiful stuff.

  45. avatar
    eekie | 3 August 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Beautiful post. Margot is obviously a very special person and I hope she is able to feel all the strength and love being sent to her. And through her music she will live forever.

  46. avatar
    txrok | 3 August 2010 at 8:54 am #

    I enjoy intense and sincere lyrics vs. bubblegum (I love you yeah yeah yea type stuff) … and yes, I do like the Beatles. Those bubblegum lyrics made ’em a lot of bucks, but the lyrics are shallow. They say good guys finish last, and sometimes I believe that to be true.

    I, too, can’t stand so-called-entertainers who put on their plastic face and go thru the plastic moves and vocals, trying to be like everyone else – just trying to look cool. You can spot a true artist a mile away, and I believe Margo to be one of them. They are becoming more far and few between.

    I wish the best for Margot, even tho I don’t know her. Being a good friend is important to having a good friend. Sometimes I forget that myself – and will go call my troubled friend soon.

    I’m sure that she appreciates you very much. God bless her and her family and friends that they may have strength …

    and thank God for you.


  47. avatar
    captain mission | 3 August 2010 at 10:58 am #

    some things there are no words for. just tears. beautiful moving writing.

  48. avatar
    Christopher | 3 August 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    An ex and even bigger Church fan than me (is that possible?!) turned me on to Margot after “Taste” was released. It’s always been in rotation here, and her music has never failed to beguile and transport me.
    “Success” is a loaded concept, and shouldn’t be measured in $ and fame, but in the sincerity and authenticity of one’s creative output, as far as this listener half a world away is concerned.
    My thoughts are with her and all who love her.

  49. avatar
    jeanz | 3 August 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    the songs from ‘taste’ are absoletly fantastic. I can’t believe i never got these albums. It was her that covered Comedown right?

    • avatar
      anon | 5 August 2010 at 8:34 pm #

      yes she covered it, it was never released

  50. avatar
    timetunnel | 4 August 2010 at 7:34 am #

    I actually can’t add very much to all these nice and beautiful things you, Steve, and everybody else wrote here about Margot and her art already. It’s a very touching blog post.

    Both of Margot’s albums are wonderful, and especially “Taste” will always be one of my favourite albums of all time. The mix and production of the album leaves more than enough room for her voice to unfold properly and shows what she is capable of. Out all the songs from this album, “Stretches” stands out. I remember a time a couple of years ago when I kind of “rediscovered” this song and I played it lots and lots of times. I was sitting there, listening, stunned, realizing that her singing on this song is simply 100% perfect.

    I’m sure her next record will be as good as her first two albums. I’m also sure I’ll always love her music.


  51. avatar
    Nick Peters | 11 August 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Very sad to hear about how ill Margot is. Hadn’t heard Creature before but really love that stoned-yet-wired Crazy Horse sound.

  52. avatar
    PINK CHURCH FLOYD | 15 November 2010 at 7:11 am #

    Sad to hear about your friend Margot, Kilbs.
    Life sux sometimes,and boy do we wish sometimes that this life would go on forever, but other times it can be unbelievably joyous.
    You’re reflecting on the joyous times that you and Margot had together.
    She’d like that
    Ange xo

  53. avatar
    Brian Ison | 18 April 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    love the music. Love the insight to the songs

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