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Pickled Priest Mixtape: 26 Killer Soul Slabs from the Amazing Catalog of Colemine Records

One of my favorite discoveries from the past decade has been the improbable existence of Colemine Records, a small family-owned label based in little Loveland, Ohio, a city with a population just under 15,000. The label’s namesake, Terry Cole, started the label to put out his own band’s records (The Jive Turkeys), but soon it turned into a full-time job centered around releasing new soul and funk records informed by the classic sounds of the 1960s and early-1970s. The only other label that could come close to challenging Colemine for the title of America’s greatest independent soul label might be Dap-Tone Records in New York, but they are far less prolific than this little Ohio label with the big heart and deep soul. It’s a remarkable story about foregoing the safe route (jobs with salaries, benefits, long-term security) in exchange for the opportunity to release music they love. And they’ve created a reliable brand in the process by paying attention to every detail along the way. Like many other addicts, I buy pretty much everything they put out before I even hear the music, mainly because these records sound 100% genuine. How many other labels these days have that same credibility? I can’t think of any right now. That’s how consistently fabulous their output has been. In the grand tradition of soul labels past, Colemine still puts out 45 singles, to date about 200 jukebox-worthy gems! These singles are quickly becoming collectors items, too. It should be said that these singles, while mining a classic retro sound are not approximations of that era, instead legitimate additions to the soul canon.

So, for those of you who don’t have the time, equipment, or gumption to collect and flip 45s every three minutes or so all day, I've put together a mixtape for you with 26 of my favorite Colemine tracks. Way too many have been left on the cutting room floor, so a second volume could be coming soon. To me, there are few things in this life better than discovering a new soul classic and you will not be disappointed by this mixtape of soul gold lovingly curated by yours truly, the Pickled Priest. I recommend you go to wherever you find music and seek out these tracks (best option: buy them!). Either way, give them time, give them volume, give them life. This is no time for AirPods and sound cubes. This ranks among my favorite mixtapes I've ever made. And I've made a shit ton of them over the years! So do the work and get busy.

Note: Colemine has done us the favor of compiling some of their greatest singles (and most of those on this tape) on four LP collections over the years. First, we got Soul Slabs, Vol. 1 and later Soul Slabs, Vol. 2. Soon to be released is Soul Slabs, Vol. 3 as well! In February of this year, they also dropped a “pandemic collection” called Brighter Days Ahead to sate their rabid fanbase, which includes several singles originally planned for 2020. If 45s ain't your bag, this is the perfect solution.


01 THE JIVE TURKEYS | "The Reggie"

It seems fitting to start the mixtape off with this early single from label owner Terry Cole's band, The Jive Turkeys. It's no stretch to say that if not for the Jive Turkeys, there might be no Colemine Records. The label was started to release his band's records, after all. While the Turkeys know how to funk it up convincingly, I'd bet Cole would be the first to admit that his group was soon eclipsed by his suddenly growing roster of talented artists. Which explains why this is the band's last single after appearing on six of the label's first 20 sides. But let's not assume these early Jive Turkeys tracks are a sonic letdown from the smoking singles to come. They more than hold their own. "The Reggie" is the perfect way to start off a cooking mixtape of smokin' soul slabs. It begins with the ambient sounds of a diner, then someone ordering "The Reggie" from the breakfast menu of the renowned Pine State Biscuits*. A waitress is heard calling in the order and soon a tight snare drum mimics the sound of hash browns sizzling on the griddle. While we wait for our order, the funk kicks in—shards of stray guitar licks and enough deep-fried organ to feed a booth full of hungry ears. It's a vintage soul instrumental amped up for a new generation. One thing I know for sure is that music sounds best with a full belly.

* "The Reggie" breakfast sandwich (a gravy-smothered biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, and cheese—lord, no need for heaven—and hash browns with even more gravy on the side) was such a local favorite in Portland, OR that Terry Cole not only named the song after it, he even put the restaurant's logo on the label of the record! Now that's my kind of advertising!

02 MONOPHONICS | "Bang Bang"

The next installment of the James Bond series will feature, in a genius move, a black woman (Lashana Lynch) as 007 and takes place five years after the retirement of the original 007 (last played by Daniel Craig). It seems disrespectful to let anyone use 007 again, but apparently M16 doesn't retire numbers like sports franchises even though James certainly has earned the honor. Anyway, Billie Eilish got the job for the No Time to Die theme and she turned in a pretty good title track, too. However, I can't help but think that Monophonics' cover of Sonny & Cher's (and later Nancy Sinatra's) simmering "Bang Bang" would've been a more appropriate choice for the movie. It sounds like it was plucked from a past film already, plus the Bond franchise has done well with more soulful themes over the years (Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Gladys Knight). I say it's high time for another. So why not go for something a little off the beaten track for once? "Bang Bang" is white soul at its finest, with Colemine MVS (Most Valuable Singer) Kelly Finnigan ripping through this nasty take on a song that has historically been done in more of a spaghetti western style over the years. You'll be hearing Finnigan's name a few times on this mix mainly because he's such a natural and versatile singer, with the ability to go full gut-bucket R&B one moment and then switch to a cooing bedroom falsetto the next. He's the real deal and he and his band Monophonics have been responsible for several absolute gems on Colemine over the years. Finnigan also has some great solo singles as well, which you will soon hear about. Get Barbara Broccoli on the phone, stat. It's not too late to bring some real soul to the British Secret Service!


In my humble soul-pinion, Black Market Brass is the crown jewel of the Colemine roster. I haven't heard a note from this Afrobeat-inspired Minneapolis (yes, Minneapolis) combo that hasn't absolutely lit up every receptor in my frontal lobe. Look no further, for this is the music that ignites my soul. "War Room" is the perfect example as to why. Of course, you're getting shit tons of wailing, skronking brass (which must be experienced to be believed), but make way for African rhythms out the ying yang, some tasty guitar licks, and the vision to make the whole familiar combination seem completely fresh and exciting. The band only seems to be getting better as they go (we'll revisit one of their more recent offerings later) and they are clearly not content to rest on their laurels. If this is what a "War Room" sounds like, count me in for the next battle.

04 MESTIZO BEAT | ""Featherbed Lane"

I hope Featherbed Lane is a real place for I want to live there. And I know what I'm talking about, too. I was once the proud owner of a beefy German featherbed (not the pale imitations you see these days—a real child smothering monster) and it provided me with such a cocoon of warmth, I fully expected to arise each morning with a fresh set of butterfly wings attached to my back. It was a good thing, too, because my "bedroom" was in the family basement, which operated at a resting 60 degrees in the summer and at least ten degrees cooler in the winter. You needed a "friend" to keep you warm in such conditions. This 45 would've also done the trick. It's a sizzling slab of psychedelic, Latin-influenced Afrofunk that positively radiates heat. It's this California combo's homage to Mongo Santamaria's Latin gem, but amped up for maximum danceability. If you've been waiting for a song to really give you a workout, you've just found it.

Flip Tip: Don't sleep on "Handcuffed to the Shovel" on the B-side, which in truth is another A-side in my opinion.

05 BUBAZA | "Ice Breaker"

Colemine Records might need to change their name to Goldmine Records if they keep kicking out so many killer singles. My favorite 45 from the label in 2020 was this one-off groovefest from Bubaza, a band made up of members of Jungle Fire and The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, two more ringers in the Colemine stable (both featured later on this tape). If I were you, I'd add this one to your life right about now. It's time to loosen up that tight booty of yours and shake it all about. Bubaza are doing something extra special on "Ice Breaker" by taking something classic and updating it with some cool modern production touches. It sounds positively electric when popping out of car speakers. Tried and tested in our four-wheeled sound lab, no less!

06 ORGŌNE | "Hound Dogs"

Orgōne (org-own) was an established band well before Colemine became a going concern, but their recent affiliation with the label has been a fruitful one. They've been one of the hottest funk and soul combos in the U.S. since they released The Killion Floor back in 2007 and they show no signs of letting up. Their stack of killer singles is impressive, but problematic—cherry-picking tracks is near impossible. How can one explain leaving "Bulletproof" (their collab with Ikebe Shakedown) on the cutting room floor? Or leaving "Don't Stop" behind? And passing on "Strike" begs for a head to be examined. Oh, and it's downright scandalous to pass over "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman," which features a guest vocal from Cyril Neville). While the band crushes it whenever they drop a new instrumental, they also have an uncanny ability to attract top-tier vocal talent as well. They are known for featuring great singers, from their time with the amazing Fanny Franklin ("Who Knows Who") back in the early days to their present day singer, the hurricane known as Adryon De Leon, they have reigned as one of the finest funk bands in the land. How good are they? "Hound Dogs" is actually the B-side to their 2019 single "Big Day," which is also predictably great. But there's something about this gritty B-side that appeals to me, perhaps because I'm a huge dog lover ("Walking the hound dogs / Lord have mercy on me!"). While A-sides dominate this mix, this song teaches us to not sleep on Colemine B-sides. There's even more gold on the flip and here's the proof.


There really shouldn't be any more room for another soul song about getting next to you, but it turns out there is and always will be. Deal with it—we want to get next to you, baby! Because that's what stokes the fires of love and that desire will never burn out. If there's one thing I love about Colemine it's that their singles are recorded old-style so you can't differentiate a track made in 2021 from one made in 1965. In other words, they can be sequenced on a mixtape of soul classics without anyone being the wiser. They also understand how to make a song that's built to last. While they've got plenty of artists pushing their sound into the future, Gene Washington isn't one of them. He's a throwback soul belter with a strong masculine voice, which only makes the lovey-dovey sentiment of this song all the more convincing. When he brings the chorus around the corner for the first time at exactly the one-minute mark or rides it home again for the final 85 blissful seconds, a modern day soul classic is born. This is not so much a throwback as it is a throwdown. The genius of a great soul single is how it can take a seemingly common sentiment or feeling and make it seem like a once-in-a-lifetime moment, never before experienced by mankind. This songs does just that.

Note: Also check out the Ironsides instrumental work sans Washington, especially "Sommer" which is as healing like a warm day in August.

08 ALAN EVANS TRIO | "Authoritay"

The Alan Evans Trio sounds like the band you might hire to play a Sunday brunch, but certainly not a hot sweaty funk club from the early 1970s. You can't judge a book by its cover, as they say. This little all-skate is just the rubberband we need to get us back to our grand purpose today. And that's to get our feet movin' and our ass shakin'. And they do so with the promised expertise as well, which is a bonus. Let me explain the nuance of the title. "Authority" is a low-level power vested in individuals to perform basic but important tasks (like issuing building permits, marriage licenses, shipping manifests, and returns without a receipt), but "Authori-TAY" is a whole other thing all together. You can't be given authori-TAY, you can only earn it. And you earn it by being one badass mother shut-your-mouth. And if that person happens to be covertly named Alan Evans, so fucking be it.

09 THE GREASE TRAPS | "Street Sweeper"

This is the reason crate-diggers exist. When record hunters crawl on hands and knees in dingy basements or dank attics, this is what they are looking for. Old soul singles once lost forever, now resurrected for posterity. It's gritty work, but worth it. But guess what, in this case there's no need for such a valiant effort! This shit is brand new! Which doesn't mean it still ain't nasty. It's fitting that this Oakland octet named themselves The Grease Traps because they ain't afraid to get down and dirty. Hell, this track even promises a little tidying up after the party ends, so what's the risk? And they do it with style, too, channeling the spirit of early 70s-era Booker T & the MGs instrumentals by featuring, you guessed it, copious amounts of Hammond organ, fatback drums, and some positively Cropper-esque guitar action as well. But where Stax legend Steve Cropper was renowned for his restraint, this "Street Sweeper" isn't afraid to bust out the turbo a little bit. Witness the absolutely wicked guitar solo buried on the back third, just when you thought you had the band figured out. This party ain't over until the "Street Sweeper" gets some clearly.

10 SOUL SCRATCH | "Pacified"

Soul music has always been great at moving asses out of chairs, but in the right hands it can also stimulate minds and demand action, too. That's the grand purpose of Southern California's Soul Scratch, a band with a floor full of wah wah pedals, a trunk full of horns, a lead singer with the zeal of a Baptist preacher, and, most importantly, an urgent message of equality for an admittedly weary congregation. This is a record that could've soundtracked the early moments of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and it is just as relevant today as we struggle to find a route to some semblance of social justice. The problem, as Soul Scratch see it, is a worn out populace all too willing to accept the status quo as if there's no other option anymore. People have been pacified, in other words. Soul Scratch blast away at this notion from within this sizzling soul sermon: "Pacified! Don't care what's goin' on / Got to open up our eyes / Cause this ain't normal, baby." Stirring to say the least, inspiring at best. It's great to hear modern soul carrying the torch of change and it doesn't hurt that is sounds smoking hot in the process.

11 KELLY FINNIGAN | "Since I Don't Have You Anymore"

It was only a matter of time until Monophonics lead singer Kelly Finnigan recorded as a solo artist. Earlier I referred to him as Colemine's MVS (Most Valuable Singer), but it turns out he's much more than that. He does it all: sings, writes, plays, and produces. This ballad demonstrates his keen ear for melody and phrasing, while also showing off his amazing falsetto. Like many great soul classics, this 45 finds just the right ingredients to make something in jeopardy of sounding stale sound tasty again. This song got under my skin one day and it has never left me since.


With the exception of the Black Pumas*, Durand Jones & the Indications have perhaps the most name recognition of any artist on the Colemine roster. The urgent "Make a Change" was one of the band's early singles and it's a raw affair that is not representative of their work as a whole for the label. This cut is not as polished as some of their later work and that's why I like it. I do love a well-crafted soul record as much as the next guy (and they made a good one a couple years ago with American Love Call and they have a new one coming out soon), but there's a message here that moves the soul: to make a change in your life, you've got to be the one to do it.

*The Pumas are technically not on Colemine, but Karma Chief, Records, a sister label started by Terry Cole, but still a part of the Colemine umbrella. The record, due to popular demand, was then distributed on ATO when they realized that a more substantial marketing push was needed to get the band over the top. It worked, obviously. That said, worthy Karma Chief artists like Neal Francis, Rudy De Anda, and the Ghost Funk Orchestra, et al, are not included on this mix. Perhaps I'll make them their own mixtape some day.


“Fo Sho” is right! Let’s get this straight: Booker T & the MGs are long gone and they ain’t comin’ back. So where can we go to get a new fix for our old addiction? Hammond B-3 organ maestro Delvon Lamarr and his Trio have your answer on their absolutely killer 45, "Fo Sho." It ranked on my elite singles list at the end of 2020 and in early 2021 we finally got a brand new album to go with it (I Told You So). If you love that Stax sound as much as I do, this is as tasty as a hot thigh from Gus’s Fried Chicken in Memphis.

Flip Tip: Don't miss the groovy rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" on the B-side. Real cool.


14 JUNGLE FIRE | "Comencemos (Let's Start)"

Let's start off side two of our tape with this lay-up of a single. If you're an Afrofunk band, and this L.A. collective is one of the best, it takes some serious balls to cover a Fela Kuti song, but miraculously Jungle Fire pull it off with aplomb (and with a little Latin flavor, too). Miraculously, they condense the whole cut to under three-minutes here, where Fela's original was, for him, a "short" eight-minutes in length (found on Fela with Ginger Baker Live! from 1971). Fela was known for allowing his band's insistent grooves to simmer all night, and not many of his songs pulled up shorter than ten-minutes on record (and live, all bets were off). So, this is a thrilling little distillation of his essence, one that not surprisingly ends way, way too soon. I would've put "Part 2" on the flipside for those not ready to let go after a paltry 144 seconds.

15 IKEBE SHAKEDOWN | "Hard Steppin'"

When it comes to funky soul, Colemine is the richest label in town. Add Brooklyn's all-white Afro-soul band (you heard right), Ikebe Shakedown, to the list of amazing bands on their roster. This one defies the odds. The band has been cranking out some killer singles for the label since the beginning and "Hard Steppin" was just the label's fourth 45 ever. Picking one of their singles is difficult. "Supermoon" could be here. So could "Assassin." Perhaps "Unqualified." All good, all worthy. But when in doubt go back to the beginning, when the band and label were just starting out. The more of this sound in the world, the better. It's as simple as that.

16 THE FLYING STARS OF BROOKLYN, NY | "My God Has a Telephone"

Aaron Frazer, singer for the Flying Stars of Brooklyn, NY, could turn into the next Kelly Finnigan if Colemine has their way. He's a busy man, too. He is one of two singers in Durand Jones & the Indications (for whom he also plays drums) and he's just released a solo album as well. Which doesn't bode well for the continuation of this particular group. No matter, they've already left us a classic gospel-soul record with "My God Has a Telephone" and that's a legacy all on its own. Soul and gospel have always been close, but estranged relatives and Colemine knows the line between the two is a fine one. Enter their "Devotional Series" which brings some amazing gospel singles into the label's fold. It's pretty clear we're not very religious here at Pickled Priest, but we do love us some gospel music. Maybe it's the comfort of knowing that this is one relationship that's not doomed to turn into heartbreak (or will it?). Here, good God is always willing to listen, sitting by the phone, patiently waiting for your call. And, no, he doesn't have caller ID, so he won't screen your call either. He's ready and waiting to chat all night like a middle school girl at a weekend sleepover. It's a comforting thought...for some. Fittingly, Aaron has an angelic falsetto, which seems wholesomely appropriate considering.

Note: Due to Aaron Frazer's burgeoning solo career, Colemine has since reissued this single under his name. Both are 2:55, but to me it's a little bit of a slight to the Flying Stars. Oh well. There's actually a better version to be found on Colemine's Soul Slabs Vol. 2 anthology, which adds 33 seconds back onto the song that were originally trimmed off for the single. I think the song works better the longer it goes, so seek out the compilation to maximize your religious experience.


The next installment in the Colemine "Devotional Series" is this gospel gem from the Harlem Gospel Travelers, a collective of young men from the five boroughs of New York City who have been mentored by none other than Eli "Paperboy" Reed, a retro soul singer of some renown. "He's on Time" sounds like a killer soul song because it is. That it's a religious song makes no difference to us; it's stirring like the best gospel records and it will make you wish you believed in a higher power. If you already do, all the better!

18 DURAND JONES & THE INDICATIONS | "Morning in America"

Durand Jones & The Indications are releasing a new record imminently and I'm dying to see where they take their sound next. On their last record, they smoothed things out a bit (thanks to the aforementioned Aaron Frazer), but "Morning in America" is a vehicle for Durand himself. Here, he taps "What's Going On"-era Marvin Gaye while calmly lamenting the state of our nation and black lives in particular: "It's morning in America / But I can't see the dawn." It's soul crushing, but in a melancholy way. Most of the singles on this list are rippers, but these sublime moments are also essential and no less powerful.

19 SOUL SCRATCH | "America"

The civic minded boys of Soul Scratch are back for a side two return and while we're in a social change frame of mind let's explore that theme a little longer. Here's another tale of two Americas, one for the privileged and one for the marginalized. Mixing compelling themes like that with incredibly catchy soul rhythms is not as easy as it sounds here, but it is undeniably powerful to listen to. Spike Lee, are you making a new movie any time soon?


The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble is from San Diego and can absolutely bring the funk. Here, on a masterful cover of Roy Ayers' "Aragon" (from the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film, Coffy, staring the great Pam Grier). It lives up to the original and it's a short taste of urban goodness from a band as tight as a 17th century corset. I recommend getting their full-length record too, also on Colemine, titled Build Bridges. Immerse yourself in a record that will someday gain the lofty status it deserves. While you're at it, also check out their collaboration with Kelly Finnigan on last year's supercharged "Impeach the President" single which pulls no punches, gives no quarter, and suffers no fools. In this case, one singular fool.

Note: You may have noticed by now that no two singles from Colemine look the same. That is by design. If you look around, you'll see that each 45 has some modification that makes it wholly unique, be it a font, design, color, graphic, etc. A nice touch of creativity that only adds to the mystique and collectability of the records. This one is my personal favorite of this bunch. It really fits with the freaky retro-funk contained therein.

21 THE DIP | "Sure Don't Miss You"

A bit of an outlier, this band of soulful white boys from Seattle, but the proof's in the grooves. It's all there. Soulful vocals, tight musicianship, great lyrics, and a dynamic performance. The hook will stay with you for days, too. Plus, I love it when a band sub-names their horn section. Here, the secret weapon is "The Honeynut Horns" who blaze away convincingly throughout. No wonder these guys are a sensation in the upper Northwest.


We couldn't leave without one more vamp from our favorite Colemine organist and "Concussion" promises a firm blow to your cranium and then delivers a knockout punch. Is there such a thing as getting enough of this sound? The answer should be obvious by now, I would imagine. A loud, hearty, unequivocal "NO."

23 ORGŌNE | "Do What You Came To Do"

I hemmed and hawed over my second Orgōne selection, but in the end I went with this slow burn indictment of a two-timing loverman featuring a perfect lead vocal from Adryon Leon (and some cool background vocals as well). She doesn't sound all that upset that she's getting dumped. In fact, it sounds like she's already moved on.

24 MONOPHONICS | "Promises"

"One of the best live soul bands I have ever seen."

-Al Bell, Stax Records

When Al Bell, who has been a part of Stax Records since the mid-60s, makes a statement like the one above, cue a double-take or, in this case, the ultra-rare triple-take. After all, he was a witness to the glory eras of Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, and countless other soul legends. In other words, he knows authentic soul when he hears it. I can't wait to see if he's right when tours start getting scheduled again. One thing I do know is that there are many sides to Monophonics. So much so, that it's cruel to limit them to just two cuts on this mixtape. By unintelligent design, I've left out some real gems, including the great wedding ballad "It's Only Us" which came out last year (I actually prefer the acoustic version released this year on Colemine's Brighter Days Ahead anthology). Or the strutting soul of "Like Yesterday"...or the simmering new single "Chances." They're all there for the taking, so I recommend investing aggressively. At the end of the day, I landed on "Promises" because there's such a strong bite to it. Broken promises, be they between friends, lovers, or, most commonly, politicians and their constituents, are tough to stomach and Kelly Finnigan brings just the perfect amount of grit and bitterness to the song, but without losing track of the groove in the process. When I look for new soul singles, this is what makes that continuing search worthwhile.

25 BLACK MARKET BRASS | " Chemical Plant Zone"

As Colemine approached, and has now passed, their 200th 45, there was a significant risk of getting into a stylistic rut. Especially when your stock in trade feeds off the tenets that made 60s soul and 70s funk so timeless in the first place. On the flipside of that notion, the singles could also get better and better as bands gain confidence and build a back catalog. Few artists set out to repeat themselves over and over (although I'm pretty content doing so myself) and some groups seem like they are only just getting started in exploring a world of future musical possibilities. Black Market Brass may be the best example of that on the Colemine roster. They seem poised to push the boundaries of their Afrobeat sound without losing what made them great in the first place. Poised is one thing, capable is another. And "Chemical Plant Zone" proves them more than able of doing just about anything and everything. Even the title of this single implies some lab experiments are underway and some new chemical reactions are on the horizon. This little explosion, from their new record I assume, bodes well for their future, and in turn, their label's continued vitality.

26 AJ & THE JIGGAWATTS | "It Is What It Is"

Some years ago, a friend of mine knew a guy who willingly drove around with a vanity license plate on his car that read CUZITIS. From me, until proven otherwise, he received instant douchebag status. We keep red flags around for a reason—to alert others of potential trouble ahead. Would you let your daughter crawl into a Z28 with a guy who willingly applied for that license plate? I bet you wouldn't. But, if you take a moment to think about it, the dubious sentiment does hold in its seven letters some practical wisdom. That philosophy of life, it can be argued, forms the foundation of the genre we affectionately refer to as funk. Funk doesn't want you worrying about the world or fretting about tomorrow. It wants you to free your mind so your ass can follow. It wants you to get up offa that thing. It wants you to let it whip. Funk teaches you to accept reality so you can allow yourself crucial moments of pure physical release in the now. "It Is What It Is," unfortunately too long for a license plate, follows that same philosophy. No, perhaps it isn't a funk masterpiece, but it is what it is and it ain't what it ain't. But I'll tell you one thing: it's one last funky blast before you go back to the coal mine of everyday life. It also acts as a not-so-subtle reminder that, as long as we've got great music to move our soul and funk up our bodies, we're all going to be okay.

With that, I will spend the rest of the day armchair quarterbacking our selections and lamenting those we left out. It's what we do. But it is what it is and that's fine with us.


The Priest


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