between the buttons and the dandelion, we love you!

Estimated reading time is 22 minutes.

GREAT SINGLES IN 1967 by established artists that should have been BIG hits but weren’t were common. For example, Buffalo Springfield’s Mr. Soul, the Byrds’ Lady Friend, and the Hollies’ King Midas In Reverse (and I could go on but that’s grist for another mill). But perhaps the biggest disappointment was the Rolling Stones second single of the year, We Love You / Dandelion. These are two sides of one of the great singles of 1967, which remain under-appreciated more than forty years later. 

Now, at the time of the release of We Love You / Dandelion, I was 15 years old. I did not buy the record when it came out, as I loathed the Stones—especially Mick Jagger’s voice. During the Christmas season of 1967, I heard the Stones’ new album, THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST.

It was at Susie Corgan’s 16th birthday party, where I was more a wallflower than a participant in the boy/girl games that were played. (This is where those who know me now think, “No way!”)

Both my best friend Donnie Corby—also attending the party, also a wee bit on the shy side—and I had an epiphany of sorts upon hearing the first track on the first side’s opening lines: “Why don’t we sing this song altogether, open our heads let the pictures come. And if we close all our eyes together, then we will see where we all come from.” 

From that moment on, I was converted! I bought the album the next day and then went after the earlier single, We Love You / Dandelion, which I found at the local McCrory’s for 79¢—and it even included the great (and now rather rare) picture sleeve. But before the Stones’ foray into psychedelia, there were other excursions . . .

 

RRR Stones 1967 header

Paint it black, you devil

In early 1966, the Stones completed the recordings intended for their fourth long-playing album (it would be their sixth in the US). Released in the UK in April, AFTERMATH was a brilliant realization of black rhythm & blues melded with contemporary white rock and pop music. The album contained fourteen tracks and was more than fifty-three minutes long, an enormous amount of music crammed onto LP for the mid-’60s.

It was followed in April by their new single, the crème de la crème of the sessions, Paint It Black. The stand-alone single would top the charts in both the UK and the US and elsewhere in the world, becoming on the group’s signature songs.

In June, AFTERMATH was finally released in the US, but in a decidedly different format: instead of fourteen tracks, there were eleven. The original British version of the album opened with Mother’s Little Helper; on this American version, that track was dropped and replaced by the single, Paint It Black.

 

By 1966, the term ‘rock’ referred to a more inclusive, eclectic form of rock & roll.

 

Three other tracks were left off and its running time was held back to just under forty-four minutes. Still, without the British Decca album to compare it with, the American London album was just fine, thank you.

Rock & roll was becoming an almost meaningless term by 1966, with rock referring to a more inclusive, eclectic form with at the very least pretensions towards a music for adults with an IQ above 90. Especially the kind of electric pop/rock exploding around the world.

In this case, some relatively esoteric instruments were worked into the arrangements by Brian Jones, including sitar, marimbas, and dulcimer. Nonetheless, AFTERMATH was rooted firmly in black American blues idioms, the last Stones album for two years to make that claim.

 

AftermathDecca

The UK version of AFTERMATH on Decca had fourteen tracks that ran 53 minutes, an extraordinary length at the time! It opened with Mother’s Little Helper, but featured no hit single. In the ’60s, few American record-buyers knew of these facts, let alone ever saw a “British import,” which did not make a dent in the US market until the early ’70s, and then only in small “mom and pop” shops.

 

AftermathLondon

The US version on London had only eleven tracks that ran a “mere” 42 minutes. It opened with the hit single Paint It Black, while Mother’s Little Helper was pulled as the next American single. Despite this being as drastic a butchering job by London of the Stones’ intended album as anything the Beatles received at the hands of Capitol, it can be argued that the London version of the album is more concise and better programmed and therefore a stronger album. Different cover art was also used by London, again arguably stronger than the Decca cover.

Something happened to me yesterday

In the latter part of 1966, the Stones recorded their fifth studio LP album, BETWEEN THE BUTTONS. While there was a sense of black blues-based music in some of the tracks, by this time Jagger and Richards were heavily influenced by Bob Dylan and Ray Davies’ growing fascination with the sounds of the old English music halls. (Like, who wasn’t?) Oddly, nothing on the album shows any influence from the Beatles’ REVOLVER album, released just as the earliest BUTTONS sessions commenced.

BETWEEN THE BUTTONS was damn near pure pop for the now people of then. There was nothing remotely psychedelic about the album—despite the belief of many that Something Happened To Me Yesterday may be an allusion to someone’s first trip: the song’s arrangement is old-timey music hall (‘vaudeville’ to us Yanks) and could be about any kind of first encounter (as some have imagined a gay fling).

One can make an argument for the wet, out-of-focus cover photo for acknowledging that the times they were a-changing, but that’s about as trippy as the album gets!

Released during the first weeks of 1967, BETWEEN THE BUTTONS was completely unexpected by fans. Due to several factors—notably the less than overwhelmingly favorable response that it received and that the large pressing runs made the album a staple of cut-out bins nationwide. Alas, BUTTONS suffered for years with a questionable reputation.

Oddly, for me, it was the second Stones album to capture my fancy, and even then an entire year after its release. It seemed like I went through the whole of the ’70s without anyone else rating the album among his or her favorites. 1

I say “amazed” because I was hardly much of a fan of EJ, then and now. If I remember correctly, 30 of his fave 50 would have been on my fave 50 list. It included a high placing for BETWEEN THE BUTTONS, which stood out at the time for being a rather daring choice for such a list.

He also ranked PET SOUNDS high, not a popular selection at the time. (I have spent more than a few minutes on my search engine attempting to find this article, to no avail.)

 

Buttons London

The alterations of the UK version of BETWEEN THE BUTTONS by London was nowhere near as severe this time around: of the twelve tracks on the Decca record, two were replaced by the current hit single Ruby Tuesday / Let’s Spend The Night Together, again making the American album a stronger record. The same cover art was used on both. 2

America’s most common cut-out

In 1968, virtually every American record company ceased producing new titles in both mono and stereo; millions of deleted mono LPs were dumped into cut-out bins around the country. They could be had for as little as 99¢ (stereo cut-outs appeared later and were usually $1.99). Few titles were as prevalent as a cut-out than the mono BETWEEN THE BUTTONS (although the Who’s HAPPY JACK was a close second).

So, aside from the many copies of BUTTONS that I bought during those first post-high school years and traded to friends who didn’t haunt remainder racks, I knew of no one who rated the Stones’ fifth studio LP as highly as me!

And there was a reason—during the early months of 1967, the radio and the market were forever changed! Shortly after the release of BETWEEN THE BUTTONS and its attendant single, Let’s Spend The Night Together / Ruby Tuesday, the Byrds and Beatles signaled the dawning of the what some would call the Age of Aquarius with their new singles, So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star (January) and Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane (February), respectively.

In April, the Doors’ Light My Fire and Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody To Love announced their psychedelic presence with authority and turned more than a few heads (and turning some listeners into heads). After which, it might be said that all hell broke loose!

By June 1 and the release of SGT. PEPPER, the Stones’ latest records sounded dated, like yesterday’s papers! (Excepting the haunting, out-of-character Ruby Tuesday.) They needed a new bag—and they needed it right quickly! 

 

RollingStones 1967b copy

Breaking stones on wheels 

The first half of 1967 was a difficult one for the Rolling Stones: Mick, Keith, and especially Brian had been busted for possession of whatever the hell England called “controlled substances.” The charges were nonsensical—clearly an attempt to attract attention by arresting celebrities for offenses that would have never attracted the police had a normal stiff done the same deed.

The subsequent court trial and absurd sentencing of Jagger and Richards—Mick received three months in prison for possession of four (4!) amphetamine pills he had obtained legally on the continent while Keith got twelve months for allowing his house to be used by others for smoking cannabis!

The harshness of the sentences so appalled The Times that they criticized it with an editorial famously titled “Who Breaks A Butterfly Upon A Wheel?”—served as the inspiration for the group’s next single, the astounding We Love You.

Wikipedia’s summation of the record leaves much to be desired. They state that We Love You was “an ironic, tongue in cheek slap in the faces of the police harassing them and the Stones’ true feelings about it, putting on a coöperative and friendly face while inside they were seething with anger and indignation (as is represented by Brian Jones’ surreal Mellotron in the background).”

I agree with the irony but I see nothing remotely tongue-in-cheek about the recording. I also have never related the sound of the Mellotron with harsh feelings, nor have I heard of anyone else who shares that observation. (That does not make me correct and them incorrect, but it would seem to make their conclusion less than universal.)

 

RollingStones 1967bb

Lock the doors around we

The Wikipedians continue: “We Love You is a psychedelic collage of jail sounds, Nicky Hopkins’ foreboding piano riff, and otherworldly tape-delayed vocal effects, featuring a visiting John Lennon and Paul McCartney on high harmonies.”

This ignores Jagger’s extraordinary lead vocal that veers about, flirting with lewdness, anger, humor, and even a dose of Summer of Love-ness, all of which leaves an ironic aftertaste. It also ignores the key to the whole arrangement and performance: Charlie Watts explosive pounding on his kit!

At a time when many were acknowledging the idiosyncratic complexity of Keith Moon’s drumming and the soon-to-be revered simplicity of Ginger Baker, Charlie blows every rock drummer in the world off the stage with this recording!

And Bill Wyman’s brilliant, swooping, dive-bombing bass line was mixed upfront so that it essentially replaces the missing lead and rhythm guitar parts.

As Paul Williams first pointed out in an early issue of Crawdaddy magazine, the best rock records can deliver an incredible intellectual/emotional message to seemingly countless listeners. To over-intellectualize the lyrics—which, admittedly, was all the rage in the ’60s and has not ever really quieted down—can neuter the effect of a great rock/pop’s record’s gestalt.

While the lyrics to songs such as this and the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations are almost void of narrative content, the impact (I prefer “the wallop”) of the record should be indisputable to even non-fans.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klTw94kTstg

Accurate lyrics to We Love You

These may be the most accurate lyrics that you can find on the Internet—at least if you use the first page of Google for your sources. Each of the sites that I checked out there got at least two major sections of two lines incorrect. As for the layout of the lines and the punctuation, that may be a matter of interpretation.

But, if you use the lyrics as I have set them below and follow along on the record (both the mono single and stereo LP versions of the record can be heard on the Internet), I believe you will find mine accurate.

The video above is the promotional film made for the release of the single in 1967. The easiest way to determine the accuracy of my transcription below would be to open this blog in two windows, one with the video playing, the other with the lyrics below so that you can follow along. Needless to say, there is no bouncing ball!

We don’t care if you only love we.
We don’t care if you only love we.
We love you. We love you.
And we hope that you will love we, too.

We love they. We love they.
And we want you to love they, too.

We don’t care if you hound we and lock the doors around we.

Love can’t get our minds off—we love you (we love you).
You will never win we—your uniforms don’t fit we.
We forget the place we’re in
 ’cause we love you.
We love you. (Of course, we do.)

I love you. I love you.
And I hope that you will love them, too.

We love you (we do).
We love you (we do) . . .

We Love You has been interpreted as a genuine attempt by the Stones to connect with the ‘flower power’ generation which fails because, well, Stones will be Stones and a bit of testiness will always out in the end.

It has also been interpreted as a jaded view of the whole hipness that was emanating from San Francisco outwards and making inroads into cities around the world, notably London.

Some have even interpreted it as a sarcastic retort to the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love—including John Lennon.

 

RollingStones 1967c

Mick, Keith, Marianne, and Oscar

As the Beatles do, so do the Stones: following the critical and popular success of the Beatles’ promotional films for Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, the Stones had a short film made for their new single. The film included footage from the single’s recording sessions with segments of a ‘play’ that re-enacted the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde (for homosexuality) starring Jagger and Richards with Marianne Faithfull. It was considered controversial for the times and the BBC pop show Top Of The Pops refused to play it!

The flip-side of London 45-905 was the equally viable Dandelion. It was first attempted during the BETWEEN THE BUTTONS sessions in June 1966, although the released version was recorded in August and September of 1967 along with the A-side.

Unless one wishes to include earlier tracks like Paint It Black and Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby (Standing In The Shadows) as psychedelic—which I do not, although I would certainly argue them as precursors—then We Love You / Dandelion qualify as the Stones’ first excursion into psychedelic pop music. Like their previous single, Let’s Spend The Night Together / Ruby Tuesday, two potential chart-topping sides were paired as one great single.

Finally, Dandelion only qualifies as psychedelic because of the arrangement and production: the lyrics deal with aging and the tendency people have to blow the puffy dandelion seedlings into the air. And, as the dandelion is a weed it hardly qualifies as a nod towards ‘flower power,’ so one not be incorrect to assume a certain irony also pervades this song.

 

WeLoveYou 45a

WeLoveYou 45b

London used different pressing plants, each of which dressed the labels differently.

On the American charts

Also like the previous single, due to issues that have never really been explained, We Love You was frowned upon by Top 40 stations across the US. While it did receive some airplay, it failed to crack any major survey: it peaked at #50 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and reached a similarly disappointing #54 on the Cash Box Top 100. 

While We Love You was recorded and released as the A-side in the UK on August 18, it was immediately controversial. This no doubt affected the group’s US representative, London. They issued the single as a double-A-sided record two weeks later. Both sides debuted on Cash Box’s Top 100 on September 9: Dandelion at #51 and We Love You trailing at #66 indicating that from the get-go London was pushing the Stones’ intended B-side over their choice of A-side.

The former peaked at #6 (four weeks in the Top 10) while the latter never entered the Top 50! On Billboard’s Hot 100, Dandelion only reached #14—which is almost always referred to by 21st-century writers as the record’s peak position—while We Love You did n fact make it to #50! I heard Dandelion on the radio all the time but don’t remember hearing We Love You until I bought the record months later!

While We Love You did reach the Top 10 in England—which, given the group’s expectations of another #1, was quite a bringdown—Dandelion was all but ignored in the Stones’ homeland.

 

TheirSatanic

Their satanic majesties request and require 

Following the lack of the success expected of the single, the group nonetheless plunged completely into psychedelia with their next album, THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST, ready for the Christmas market of 1967. While this album spent years being maligned by countless critics, it was the record that turned me into a Stones fanatic!

Like so many other albums, I play editor and programmer, making logical changes that would enhance the album as a listening and intellectual experience. For instance, had they edited the rambling Sing This All Together (See What Happens) down from its 8:33 of playing time, they could have easily fit in Dandelion, which would have made a much stronger ending to the first side—especially if they retained the piece of We Love You that served as a tag-on coda for the single version of the track.

Similarly, had they removed the last track, the music hall or vaudevillian (and mostly pointless) On With The Show and replaced it with We Love You, the whole album would have ended on a much stronger note. It would also have made the entire album seem more ‘serious’—whereas On With The Show implied that it had all been a bit of a lark, that none of it mattered—when, in fact, it did matter.

This was a far cry indeed from the closing of SGT. PEPPER there, A Day In The Life made apparent that everything was serious, everything mattered, and that every moment could be the final moment.

The inclusion of We Love You and Dandelion on THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST would have made it both a stronger record—and it might have escaped decades of derision from rockwriters who, admittedly, should have known better—and a more commercial record—although the album sold phenomenally upon release, reaching #3 on Billboard’s best-selling LP survey, a fact that the album’s critics always leave unmentioned.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_US2

The Avid Record Collector

According to my old friend the Avid Record Collector, a copy of the UK record of We Love You / Dandelion (Decca F-12654) or the US record (London 45-905) in NM condition is worth approximately $15-20. But the US picture sleeve (also London 45-905) is quite another story: it is one of the rarest of Stones sleeves. Determining a NM value is difficult: without thinking, I guessed $300.

A little research on Popsike shows an array of prices paid; below are six “recent” examples, listed chronologically: 

•   in 2007, a sleeve graded VG+ fetched $460
•   in 2008, a sleeve graded VG+ fetched $300;
•   in 2010, a sleeve graded M- but with “slight creases” (making it VG+) fetched $273;
•   in 2011, a copy graded VG+ sold for $500;
•   in 2012, a sleeve graded NM fetched $335; and
•   in 2015, a sleeve graded VG+ but looks VG sold for $276.

Using these (and without having feedback from established dealers), I would not be uncomfortable listing them in a price guide with a suggested NM value of $400-500. 3

The NM value is, perhaps, a little on the high end, given the lack of recent sales. But the very lack of documented sales on Popsike speaks clearly of the sleeve’s rarity in premium condition.

 

Dandelion 45b

Dandelion 45a

London used different pressing plants, each of which dressed the labels differently.

A gallery of picture sleeves

Here find a selection of every picture sleeve that I could find on the Internet for We Love You / Dandelion. Only the front side is shown, as most backsides are redundant or print information. Exceptions below include the Italian and Japanese sleeve. As I have no standing in valuing non-US releases, there are no values assigned to these sleeves; they are merely for your edification. Sleeves are listed alphabetically by country.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Belgium

Belgium used a black and white photo from the BETWEEN THE BUTTONS photo sessions and designed this effectively haunting sleeve. In my opinion, one of the best Stones sleeves ever!

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Denmark2

Denmark also gave us a black and white sleeve, this time from the AFTERMATH era. Nice sleeve, in line with the tasteful images that many of their record graphics presented at the same time their personas of wild boys were being played upon by management and media.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_France

France used a more recent color photo but in a decidedly mundane manner. Unexceptional sleeve.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_German

Germany (West Germany) used a color photo of the flower-powered boys against an odd choice of bright blue and dull green fields.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Iran

Iran gave their record buyers a WE LOVE YOU extended-play album with a couple of older tracks that were out of place next to the psychedelia of the newer recordings. The sleeve is a nice black and white version of that found on the HIGH TIDE & GREEN GRASS but with a light sepia-like tint.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_ItalyAA

WeLoveYou PS ItalyB

Italy lifted the cover art for the US compilation album FLOWERS but with a garish (not psychedelic) orange background. The back cover has a black and white photo for the Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby period.

 

WeLoveYou PS Japan

WeLoveYou_PS_Japan2

Japan used a BUTTONS photo on the front cover and an earlier 1965 photo for the back. Both in color, both sides as elegant as one expects from Japanese record companies of this time.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Netherlands

The Netherlands opted to boldly go where no other record company had gone before in 1967 and gave us an Op Art picture sleeve! A standout in the Stones catalog, regardless of one’s taste in art.

 

WeLoveYou PS Norway2

Norway used a color photo of the group on television from ’64. These graphics were also used for Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows and She’s A Rainbow.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Portugal

Portugal presented one of the least interesting of the sleeves associated with this record, using a black and white BUTTONS photo too heavily cropped for my taste with a boring border at the top.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_SAfrica

South Africa, hardly noted for its progressivism, went with this very conservative red-on-white title sleeve. But it works.

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Spain

Spain also gave us the London FLOWERS album as a front cover, and as I have always liked that cover—even back in early ’67 when I positively loathed anything and everything Rolling Stones—and I like it here!

 

WeLoveYou_PS_Sweden

Sweden issued a sleeve that borders on the absurd: a 1964 photo with handwritten titles that give the sleeve a bootleg look. But it is interesting.

As we play the dandelion game

Several years later, at another show, Lloyd approached me and offered his hand. I asked why we were shaking and he told me how pissed he had been at me for getting the $55 out of him. But, since then, he has not seen or heard of a copy for sale remotely as nice as the one he claimed as his!

All of the other picture sleeve collectors he knew envied him the sleeve and offered him far more than $55 to sell it.

By this time, I had published my first book, the Rock & Roll Record Albums Price Guide (O’ Sullivan Woodside, 1985). So, I had a little spending money and I offered to buy the sleeve back from him at whatever reasonable price he asked—I was thinking $220.

Needless to say, he refused to sell his We Love You / Dandelion for four times what he paid for it!

So, Lloyd, if you ever read this, two things: first, Hi! Hullo! How are you? (Well, I hope you’re doing fine.)

Second, I hope that you still have the We Love You / Dandelion that I sold you and that you NEVER sell it to anyone—except to me, and only when and if you absolutely have to.

 

WeLoveYou PS German1976

Alas, do not hold your breath waiting for your local oldies radio show to play either We Love You or Dandelion. Most such stations have a playlist of 5-10 Stones records, and these two are NEVER among them. If you don’t have We Love You / Dandelion or THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST, give them a listen and maybe add them to your collection. And that means buy the vinyl, not the digital crap found on so many CD reissues or downloads!!!

Germany issued a new sleeve (above, and technically a ‘title sleeve’ in record collector nomenclature) in the mid-’70s with Dandelion as the featured hit side. Italy’s new sleeve (below, and issued around the same time) focused on the indisputable star of the group and focused on We Love You.

I am not aware of any other sleeves for this record; should you know of one that I have missed—even a bootleg—please contact me and let’s get it up here!

 

WeLoveYou PS Italy1976

Relocating from the east coast to the west

In 1978, I drove from Pennsylvania to northern California and the Bay Area, where I remained into 1982. During that time, I was a regular attendant at many of the regular record swaps throughout the state—almost always as a dealer with at least one table for my inventory.

This included the oh-so casual monthly get-together at the Castro Valley Boys Club and the Capitol swap in Los Angeles. Both were held outdoors in parking lots—but, of course, you could do that year-round in California.

The big one in the northern part of California was the indoor event at the Holiday Inn in Emeryville, just off of Interstate 80. For a variety of reasons—including confusion caused by competing shows—southern California had a difficult go of making an indoor event gel in the wake of the collapse of the Capitol swap. 

(And if no one has ever written an article on the legendary Capitol swap—from its origins in the Capitol Tower parking lot to its demise under the abusive hand of the fascist, female cop-wannabe who ran it into the ground years later—someone should!)

At one of the Emeryville shows, both Lloyd Davis and I had tables as dealers. Lloyd was well known, first as a premier picture sleeve collector, and also as the author of the Collectors Price Guide To 45 RPM Picture Sleeves, published in 1977 and the first of its kind.

At the show, I was separating myself from my personal collection to have more spendable cash to buy more records to sell at the shows. One item that I grudgingly displayed was the closest to mint (M) copy of the We Love You / Dandelion picture sleeve that I had ever seen. 

My asking price—from which I had NO intention of budging (unless to raise it)—was $55. And that was almost three times what Lloyd had in his book!

Needless to say, Lloyd had a copy of the sleeve in his collection but, like most copies of We Love You / Dandelion, it was in merely very-good (VG) condition. He wanted mine—but not at that price. I suggested that he think it over and come back before someone else bought it.

While I had a lot of gawkers and question-askers about the Stones sleeve, no one was interested in giving me my price. Finally, Lloyd came over later in the day and, having sold enough at his table, reluctantly parted with the $55 and walked away with the mint-minus (M-) We Love You / Dandelion sleeve.

I have regretted selling that beauty ever since! 4

 

RollingStones 1967 GeredMankowitz 1000

FEATURED IMAGE The photo at the top of this page is “an outtake from the Between the Buttons sleeve shoot taken very early one morning after an all-night recording session” according to the photographer by Gered Mankowitz.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   The mono London pressings were dumped on the market in 1968, selling for as little as 99¢ in the few discount sections in stores in Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. Along with another personal fave from the time, the Who’s HAPPY JACK, it was a staple of those bargain bins for years, helping to establish the cut-out market so prevalent in the ’70s and ’80s in the States.

2   I found a like-minded critic in the queerest of places: in the early ’70s, Elton John was still on the ascent and in magazine contributed an article to a magazine on his record collection. It included a list of his top 100 favorite albums and I was amazed to see how much it resembled my list (if I had ever made such a list).

3   A truly mint sleeve sold by well established dealers with a reputation for accurate grading could sell for a lot more . . .

4  This article (“between buttons and dandelions, we love you!”) is a reprint of “from buttons to dandelions – the rolling stones embrace dylan and davies and then turn on tune in and drop out” that was originally posted on November 19, 2013. I have made minor editorial corrections but added all of the images, thereby changing the article significantly.

 

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