Don’t Get Angry, Get a Gin & Tonic

I’ve been greatly amused by the suggestions I’ve received so far for this week’s The Chain, not because of the records suggested (which, as usual, are of a very high standard) but for the unprecedented amount of comments which read along the lines of “No, wait! I thought of a better one!”

I know how you feel.

I can’t believe I’ve got through my many EU Referendum posts, without mentioning this:

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Kaiser Chiefs – The Angry Mob

I’m not quite sure which angry mob this best applies to: the Remainers for the injustice of it all, or the Leavers for either feeling duped into voting the way they did (anecdotal evidence continues to rise in this regard), or annoyed the Brexit process hasn’t started yet or (some, not all of them)  for there still being non-English people in the country.

There’s only one way to find out…FIGHHHHTTT – er, no, let’s not, eh?

(Props for whoever did that sleeve though, great isn’t it?)

More soon.

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Get Crazy with the Cheese-Whizz

Last night, I went to see Beck play at the Brixton Academy.

I had bought my ticket on a whim, on the day that Prince died, when I decided I needed cheering up. Last night’s gig was, therefore, perfectly timed.

Beck had played Glastonbury over the weekend, and I had vowed not watch his set, because whilst I knew he was renowned for rarely playing two sets the same, I wanted to ensure I experienced the real thrill you get at a gig of not knowing what will be next, rather than the expectancy of waiting for that one special song you love and know has been played live recently. Although with Beck there is no one special song, there’s a whole raft of them.

I had a checklist- not an actual, physical list, you understand, that would be way to nerdy even for me (it was more of a cerebral I-Spy book) – of songs I hoped he’d play, and while there was also an awful lot that was unfamiliar to me (as I sat on the Vicky Line tube home I found myself vowing to revisit each of his albums, cursing myself for not having done so more fervently before the gig), I managed to check pretty much all of them off.

Chief among them was today’s song, delivered three songs in, the song that started it for me and I suspect for many others, and one that I once included on a mix-tape I had compiled for a couple of friends of mine, Daints and Louise, as a thank you for being kind enough to allow me to sofa-surf at their flat when I first moved back to Cardiff, circa 1993.

I stayed there for a couple of weeks (I think, maybe more, maybe less), and those were two really fun weeks that I didn’t want to end, evenings spent alternating between going to the pub, sitting up playing Smiths records and eating Stilton cheese, or on Friday night going to the indie disco at GWs, where we would get drunk and I would do my very poor Morrissey impression.

This song cropped up, if memory serves, as side one track one of the mix-tape which I’d entitled “Getting Crazy with the Cheese-Whizz!”, and last night, when I returned home and wrote my latest/last EU/Football rant, the words sprung to mind again, as I realised how many times I seem to have backed the wrong horse recently:

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Beck – Loser

More soon.

P.S. In case I’ve not made it clear, Beck was fricking awesome.

Omnishambles Un-United

*Sighs*

Oh, where to start?

I think I’ve banged on enough about the EU Referendum, for now at least.

But, before I stop…here’s an “at the time of writing” overview of the present situation:

On Sunday, Ian Duncan Smith appeared on the Andrew Marr show, and claimed that the Leave campaign had “never said” that the oft-cited £350 million a week the UK would save by leaving the EU would be given to the NHS

Coincidentally, the official Leave campaign has now wiped almost its entire website from the internet in an effort to stop any more of these pesky lies, which they definitely didn’t make, being uncovered.

Thing is, they forgot one teensy thing:

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Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies

Because over the weekend, this picture became one of the most shared images on social media platforms:

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Mmm-hmm. So, no. Course they didn’t promise that at all, did they?

Chancellor George Osbourne has announced that taxes will need to be raised and public services cut – still further – as a result of the Referendum result. I’ll start clearing my desk.

Boris Johnson, surely the most high profile champion of the Leave campaign, couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the House of Commons for the first meeting of Parliament since the result.

Despite this, Rupert Murdoch has announced that Boris Johnson would be his preference for the new leader of the Conservative Party/Prime Minister, which is no surprise, given this pre-referendum quote from the Evening Standard:

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Meanwhile, reported incidents of racist abuse in the UK have increased by 57% since Friday. Which is good, because that finally puts to bed the myth that there were any racist elements involved in some – not all – people’s pro-Leave vote (sense the tone).

The Conservative Party is in utter disarray, divided on what to do next in the Brexit process, as Cameron stands down and the in-house fighting about who will succeed him starts. Ordinarily, this would normally make me very happy indeed, a silver lining to the dark clouds that seem to hovering over the UK at the moment, like they think we’re Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories.

Time for strong, effective opposition then. Nuh-huh. For mere days after the result, the Labour Party decided to press the self-destruct button, firstly with a whole raft of high profile resignations  and the occasional sacking from the Shadow Cabinet, followed by an overwhelming vote of no confidence against leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour MPs. Labour have decided that instead of seizing the moment, they’d rather implode instead.

Harold Wilson was right, it seems: a week really is a long time in politics.

The main thrust, as far as I can see, for this uprising is that Labour MPs felt that Corbyn wasn’t high-profile enough in his backing of the Remain campaign, and to an extent, they have a point. But when the whole of the British media pretty much ignored him, preferring to focus on the likes of Cameron, Johnson and Farage instead, who lie better give much ‘better’ soundbites, what was he supposed to do?

Earlier this month, Angela Eagle, Labour MP – now one of the dissenting MPs arguing Corbyn should go for exactly the reasons I’ve just cited – said this:

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I knew what his position was – that he thought there EU was far from perfect, but felt the best way to work for change was from within, not outside, of it – and it seems to me that such a position would have resonated with a great many voters, had the media actually taken the time to report it. Which they didn’t because it wasn’t in their interests to do so.

But that’s all a smokescreen: Labour MPs have been dissatisfied with Corbyn from the moment he was voted in by the swelling ranks of the Labour Party not 12 months ago. They think that having a left-wing leader is a step away from the more central/right politics implemented by Tony Blair and his ilk which brought them to power in 1997.

They seem to have missed the point that many Labour Party members voted for Corbyn for precisely the reason that he doesn’t play the game, that he doesn’t bow to the press, that he offers an ideological alternative to the other main parties. And whilst I have seen quite a few high-profile Labour voters, with admittedly heavy hearts, say that in the face of such opposition from within his own party, perhaps it is time for him to stand down, I’m not sure it’s that straight-forwards. I saw one poll earlier which indicated that if there was to be another Labour leadership vote, then Corbyn would still get 68% of the vote. Which would leave us, and him, almost exactly where he is now: in a totally unworkable position.

When the last Labour leadership vote happened, I made the point on these very pages that whilst I broadly backed him as a candidate, I worried that Corbyn might turn out to be another Michael Foot, who led the Labour Party from 1980 – 1983, just after Thatcher swept to power, a man much admired for his left-wing principles and rhetoric, but a man who was consistently derided by the media, and who turned out to be utterly unelectable. Which seems to be exactly where we are now. I hate being right sometimes (that’s right with a small ‘r’, as in correct, as opposed to with a capital ‘R’, which isn’t).

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Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere

In a little under two weeks, the Chilcot Report, which for years has been investigating whether or not Blair took us into an illegal war in Iraq – a political rhetorical question if ever there was one – is due to be published. One has to wonder about the wisdom of attempting to realign the party with Blair’s ideals right now.

Enough, already. No more. This is doing nothing for my blood pressure.

Luckily, I have something else to be pissed off about.

On Monday night, I, like many other English football fans, settled down to watch England play Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, currently being held in France.

I hadn’t expected England to win the tournament. I hadn’t expected them to progress any further than the quarter finals, if they even managed to get that far.

But I really hadn’t expected what happened on Monday night to take place.

Whilst nobody thought the game was going to be easy, I, and many others, thought that on paper, England should progress: they have a team packed with young, fast, highly talented, highly paid players from what is supposedly the best league in the world, compared with Iceland, a team of part-timers and, with the odd exception, lower league players, from a country with a population roughly the same as Croyden, playing in a tournament for the very first time.

But we all know that saying about the game not being played on paper, right?

After 4 minutes, England took a 1-0 lead, and the nation seemed finally to be about to have something to collectively smile about.

Needless to say, it didn’t last long.

After 6 minutes, it was 1-1. After 18 minutes, it was 1-2. And so it stayed for the rest of the game, with the England players abjectly failing to play as if they’d ever met before, let alone having worked, played and trained together for the past month. It was a spineless, humiliating exit.

Iceland deserved to win. They played better, fought harder, wanted it more, had a system the players understood and knew how to implement – dammit, had a system! The opposite of the England team, in other words.

You have to question not just the tactical naivety of England Manager Roy Hodgson, but also his selection. It was apparent that with our full backs not managing to get up the pitch, that we had no width. Look to the bench for a winger to bring on then – ooops! None there.

Before the tournament, Hodgson had insisted that his squad selections would be based on who was in form: those who were, would be in, those who weren’t, would not. Which makes his decision – and I say this not because one is a former Spurs player and the other is a current Arsenal player – to leave winger Andros Townsend (on fire for Newcastle at the end of the season, despite them ultimately getting relegated) at home, and take Jack Wilshere, who had played just 141 minutes of competitive football all season, all the more inexplicable. And then to bring Wilshere on for the second half instead of, say, Adam Lallana, who’d been one of England’s best players up until then….grrrrrrrrr!!!

(I appreciate that one of the things that makes football such a beautiful game is that every fan has an opinion. Whilst we may not agree about the EU – although I know very many who visit here do, and thank you for all of your kind messages, by the way – I bet there’s very little I’ve just written that any England fan disagrees with.)

Moments after the final whistle, England manager Roy Hodgson resigned. Although…since his contract expired at the end of England’s involvement in Euro 2016, I’m not sure it can technically be called a resignation – he was already out of the job.

In his remarkably quickly written ‘resignation’ speech – it seems the only tactic he was sure of was that he would be getting his coat after the final match – Hodgson said the team had been “fantastic” and had “done everything that was asked of them”. Which begs the question – what were they asked to do??

I wasn’t going to write about this. But then I had a text from my Dad, suggesting a song, which I couldn’t resist. The irony of it being by a Welsh woman is not lost on me:

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Bonnie Tyler – Lost in France

Cheers, Dad.

I hope I’m not jinxing them, but good luck to Wales this Friday. You have my full support, and we all know how well that usually works out, right?

Hopefully, I won’t be posting “It’s a Heartache” come Friday night/Saturday morning.

More soon.

The Chain #10

I need to think of a new way to open these posts other than saying “So I left you last week with *insert name here* record and asked you to suggest songs that linked to it”.

But until I do, you’ll have to make do with this:

So, I  left you last week with “The River” by Bruce Springsteen and asked you to suggest songs that linked to it. This week, I’m simply going to post them in the order that I received them.

So, as with most weeks, first out of the traps was George who said:

“The Springsteen album The River has a track called Fade Away. And Buddy Holly wrote and sang Not Fade Away.”

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Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away

Next up, The Swede, with a typically classy link:

“I was born (and spent the first 15 years of my life) in Walthamstow. When I was a young lad, Dad would often take me for a Sunday afternoon stroll along the nearby River Lea. In my memory it was always a glorious adventure, but a few recently rediscovered photos taken at the time tell a different story – the river and the old buildings along the bank were in a pretty sorry state back then, though I believe there has been a massive regeneration of the area in recent years.

But I digress. I’d like to go from ‘The River’ to the River Lea to Jim Lea and ‘When the Lights Are Out’ from ‘Old New Borrowed and Blue’, which was his first ever lead vocal on a Slade track.”

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Slade – When The Lights Are Out

I don’t know about you, but I can no longer hear a Slade tune without thinking of this:

Slade in Flame, indeed.

Next up, Charity Chic:

“Not sure I can top the Swede but The River to River Deep Mountain High to the Mountain by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band to Duke of Earl by Darts to Darts of Pleasure by Franz Ferdinand.”

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Franz Ferdinand – Darts of Pleasure

I can’t really ignore the mention of “River Deep Mountain High”, now can I? But since I very much enjoyed watching Ronnie Spector’s set at Glastonbury over the weekend (if you have access to the BBC iPlayer, seek it out), I’m going to plump for the Phil Spector produced version by Ike & Tina Turner:

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Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High

Which leads me rather nicely on to a suggestion I received that wasn’t via the Comments at the bottom of last week’s post. My boss, Kay, was talking to me at the start of the week, and suggested something called “Rolling on the River”, by which it transpires she meant this (although I think she wanted the Tina Turner version):

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Proud Mary

Which, it turns out is a double link, referencing not just the river, but also Mary.

Final suggestion time, and this week, it’s from The Great Gog, who also goes with name of the heroine in Springsteen’s track as the link:

“‘The River’ was released in 1980 and mentions a girl called Mary. Another song released in 1980, mentioning someone of that name is Robert Palmer’s ‘Johnny And Mary’.”

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Robert Palmer – Johnny & Mary

Which just leaves my choice, and, since you know I have no shame, I’m going to post a song which references both a river, and Mary, who, it would seem comes to a somewhat stickier end than any of the other Marys mentioned so far. Oh, and there’s also the fact that the story told takes place in Nebraska, which was of course the name of a Springsteen album.

You might ask: What’s so shameless about that?

Well, my suggestion this week is by Richard Marx:

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Richard Marx – Hazard

(Go on, admit it. That’s alright really, isn’t it?)

Oh, and great though all of the other suggestions were this week, I win, with an unprecedented triple link choice.

And so to the admin task of posting the song that BBC Radio 2 listeners suggested to link to Springsteen’s song, and I imagine many of you will know what the link between the two songs was:

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The Rembrandts – I’ll Be There For You

(And if you don’t know the link between Springsteen and The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You”, there’s a bit of a clue in that picture).

So, as usual, your suggestions please for what we can play next week that links to The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You”; you can either leave them in the Comments below, or just shout across the desk at work.

More soon.

**NEWS JUST IN**

It’s not often (okay, it’s the first time) I get a late submission, but this just came through from Marie who said:

“I probably have this game all wrong, but “The River” led me to “One More River To Cross” by The Soul Stirrers (featuring Sam Cooke.)”

Well, you have the game pretty much right, just a week late. But since it’s a ladies prerogative to be late (and since it would be churlish of me to decline the chance to post some sweet, sweet Sam Cooke) I’ll let it slide:

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Sam Cooke with The Soul Stirrers – One More River to Cross

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Today, another song I found out about courtesy of the Evan Dando gig I went to last year.

Dave Dudley  has the least rock’n’roll name in history, especially if you say it in the way that people from Dudley, Birmingham, would.

He was an American country singer best known for his truck-driving country anthems of the 1960s and 1970s, and today’s selection is perhaps – no, not perhaps, definitely – his best known song:

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Dave Dudley – Six Days on the Road

That was released in 1963, and there’s more than a hint of Elvis about some of the lyrical delivery, isn’t there?

That’s the original version, where he refers to “…taking little white pills…”, a reference to the stimulants some truckers used to keep driving when they needed sleep. Some re-recordings of the song replace these words with a reference to looking at the white lines on the road.

I’m not sure White Lines is quite the safe reference the censors were hoping for; 20 years later, this came out:

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Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)

That’s your actual country/hip-hop linkeage, right there. Happy to report, it’s that standard of links (actually, better than that, if I’m honest) that y’all keep suggesting for my The Chain thread that makes that particular thread such a pleasure to do. Check in later to see what’s been suggested today. If you like. No pressure.

Nope, it’s no good. I can’t mention that without also mentioning “Shaun of the Dead”, surely the best rom-zom-com film ever:

I always remember Hel and I dancing to that at the first of the two Southport Weekenders that we went to, both singing along to it like it was 1983 again. I, of course, being the (slightly) bassier of the two took the “Baby” line, which left me with little to do but cut a mean carpet for the rest of the time.

(Disclaimer: I do not cut a mean carpet)

Anyway: Dave Dudley. Tune, right?

And yes, that Evan Dando gig was one hell of a gig. I haven’t finished with referencing it yet, by the way.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

A few years ago, a friend of mine was having a really rough time. I’ll not go into details about who or why, but they were down, depressed, and it broke my heart to see them that way.

So I did the only thing I could think of to help, and what I did will come as no surprise to you: I made them a mix CD of songs that I hoped would cheer them up.

Tonight’s song was the first track on there.

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R.E.M. – Why Not Smile (Oxford American Version)

After the events of the past few days, I figured I should take my own advice. It’s either that, or cry, or give myself a heart attack getting angry. Of the three, smiling’s the best option, right?

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Unlike the Leave campaigners, I have to be honest. I don’t really feel like doing this today.

I’m not a bad loser. I’m really good at it. I’m a left wing, Spurs fan: I’ve had plenty of practice over the years.

The country has spoken, and I accept and acknowledge what they’ve said. Such is democracy.

Doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it though.

Especially when you hear things like this:

It’s less than 24 hours since the Leave campaign won, In that time, the following has happened:

  • The pound has hit its lowest point in 30 years;
  • Scotland has said it is likely to demand a new Independence Referendum;
  • Some Irish politicians have indicated they think that’s a pretty good idea, and may want one too;
  • Spain’s acting foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, said the leave vote had brought the prospect of a Spanish flag flying on the rock of Gibraltar closer;
  • Farage’s victory speech claimed it had been won “without a bullet being fired”, which I’m sure the family of Jo Cox were delighted to hear;
  • Boris Johnson has said there is “no haste to start the EU process”;
  • Unfortunately, the EU leaders disagree, and have called for the UK to leave “as soon as possible, however painful that process may be”. Which sounds promising;
  • Donald Trump has hailed the result as “a great thing”. And he’s a thoroughly sensible and creditable person that you want to have agreeing with you;
  • Hamid Aboutalebi, a senior political aide to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said: “The leaving of England from the EU is a historic opportunity for Iran and we should make the most out of this new opportunity.” Uh oh. Time to sex-up some more documents!;
  • David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister (so, not all bad then, until you consider who’s waiting in the wings…);
  • Farage has admitted the Leave claim that “£350 million a week will go to the NHS” was “a mistake” (read: lie)

Do you think they can get the money back that they paid to have that “mistake” plastered all over their buses? Or for the advertising campaign that repeatedly – even after it had been called out – got aired?

You can’t help but think that many have swallowed the lies mistakes that the Leave campaign pedalled. Wales, for example. I love Wales. As many of you will know, I lived there for 20 years, and although I moved away almost 10 years ago, if you asked me today where I considered to be home, I’d say “Cardiff” in a heartbeat. (Still love ya though, London!). But the majority of Wales voted to leave…despite them getting the most EU funding of any UK area. What other explanation other than being duped is there for that?

And Birmingham! One of the most gloriously multi-cultural cities we have, voted to Leave. How did that happen???

As a result of this vote, the UK will probably lose its Triple A credit status. The one we endured austerity for the past few years to keep. I work in the public sector, for my local council. Local authorities have felt the austerity pinch like no other, which has a trickle down effect on to you and I. And that’s now going to get worse. Local authorities will be faced with a choice: either provide fewer services – or the same services but at a lower standard – or increase your Council Tax.

From a purely selfish point of view: I will probably get laid off. I won’t be able to afford to stay in the flat I so happily rent. Chances are, I will become unemployed, and homeless. Spare me some change, won’t you, Brexiters?

And in case you think this is scare-mongering or pity-seeking or worst case scenario thinking on my part, check out the Comments on my “Minds Made Up” post, specifically the one from Dirk (sexyloser), who lives in Germany, one of those EU countries that we’ve just told to “do one”:

“Got very clear instructions from my boss this morning and thus spent the last three hours stopping all deliveries into the UK for clients paying in GBP with immediate effect. Accepting fresh orders is forbidden, too. Next thing is trying to persuade them to pay in Euros, 1 : 1.35 in comparison to yesterday…”

This is Day One. That’s one company. The process to extract the UK is estimated to take up to two years. Imagine how many other European companies will follow suit in that time.

But it’s okay. No need to worry. Just over a month ago, on the 17th May 2016, to be precise, Nigel Farage said that in the event that Remain won on a 52 – 48 basis, he’d consider that too close to call and would want a second referendum as there would be “unfinished business”. And we all know Nigel is a man of his word, don’t we? So since Leave won on an even smaller margin (51.9% Leave to 48.1% Remain), the same applies, right, Nigel? Nigel….??? Sorry, forgot. Pubs are open. (But only till 23:00, because we don’t want those pesky continental drinking hours anymore, do we?)

The bad people have won. The people we’ve all scoffed at, mocked for their insular, backwards, 1970s way of looking at the world. Them.

I stayed up through the whole thing, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will confirm (@jezbionic in case you’re interested), and you won’t be surprised to learn that a few songs of relevance occurred to me throughout the night. Some got posted, some didn’t. And that’s what you’re getting tonight.

You’ll forgive me if tonight’s post isn’t exactly bursting with the usual happiness, enthusiasm, fun or joie de vivre (if you’ll excuse my French, irony intended). I am fucking angry. There will be no commenting in between songs. No funnies. Cos funny is not how I feel.

This ten song sequence is without doubt the best thing to have come out of the EU Referendum. Every cloud, eh?

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306. Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God

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 307. Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time

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308. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

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309. Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels

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310. Buzzcocks – Something’s Gone Wrong Again

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311. R.E.M – Bad Day

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312. The Streets – Has It Come To This?

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313. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – What A Waste

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314. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Who’s Gonna Take The Blame

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315. Dobie Gray – The ‘In’ Crowd

More soon.