CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 20th July

yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Kaiser Chiefs favourites to win Mercury Music Prize
- Lil Kim sues Mafia members over DVD
- Ashanti faces a lawsuit from her first music producer
- More Doherty nonsense
- Lack considers Smellie replacement at SonyBMG
- I came, I saw, iPod, what next? Not mobiles
- Album review: Michael Jackson - The Essential
- Bestival main stage line up confirmed
- Nelly signs up for shoes
- Clor prepare for second album
- Ms Dynamite gets back to work
- Rolling Stones new studio album
- Pacha issue two now online
- Test Icicles disaster catalogue
- Rogue Russian download site moves West
- Single review: Martin Solveig - Everybody
- Coke expand music platform
- Harvey out of hospital
- Madonna loves English country life
- Robbie regrets tattoos, apparently
- Subways two get engaged

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KAISER CHIEFS FAVOURITES TO WIN MERCURY MUSIC PRIZE
The great thing about the Mercury Music Prize shortlist is that there is always a couple of artists in there to which the vast majority of the music industry can only respond, "erm, who?".

Of course, none of these 'outsiders' has ever been the overall winner in the Prize's fourteen year history, but presumably jazz outfit Polar Bear and Devon based folk-rock singer songwriter Seth Lakeman won't be too depressed by their respective outsider ratings - merely being shortlisted will provide a considerable boost to their careers, in the short term at least. Let's hope so, especially for Lakeman who told the BBC yesterday: "I'm skint. I spent my last £177 on the entry fee for this award. I didn't think I stood a chance in hell".

The rest of the shortlist is a little more predictable. Well, I say that, we predicted four correctly (Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, MIA, KT Tunstall), but none of the others come as a great surprise except, perhaps, the choice of Coldplay as the 'token mainstream nominee' (since when has this been the Nationwide Mediocre Music Prize?). As for who will be the overall winner on 6 Sep, well that is anyone's guess, because Mercury Music Prize judges have a tendency of surprising everyone at the last minute (though, not by picking the complete outsiders).

I'm going with MIA, but the bookies reckon Kaiser Chiefs are the favourites, with William Hill offering 4/1 odds on them winning. Bloc Party, KT Tunstall and Coldplay are equal second place, all with 6/1 odds on winning.

Commenting on their status as bookies' favourites, Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson told reporters yesterday: "Being the favourites is exciting, although it doesn't mean we're going to win it. But we want to win it. People say, 'oh, it's just great to be nominated, we don't mind whether or not we win'. They're lying to themselves. Everybody wants to win."

The full shortlist is as follows, press info from Mercury Music Prize press office on 020 8964 9964:

Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Coldplay - X&Y
The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike
Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV
KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers
Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger
MIA - Arular
Polar Bear - Held on the Tips of Fingers
Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay

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LIL KIM SUES MAFIA MEMBERS OVER DVD
Lil Kim is obviously keen to get back into the courts, despite being found guilty of perjury back in Mar. She has begun legal proceedings against James 'Lil' Cease' Lloyd, a member of her former backing posse Junior Mafia, over a DVD which will give the lowdown on the rapper's perjury trial.

The DVD in question, to be called 'The Chronicles of Junior Mafia Part II: Reloaded', will feature interviews with those Junior Mafia members who testified against Kim in the perjury trial. Lloyd himself was among the witnesses who confirmed that Kim had been with both Damion Butler and Suif Jackson when a shoot out occurred between Kim's entourage and a rival hip hop group outside a New York radio station back in 2001 - Kim had earlier told a grand jury investigation into the shooting that neither Butler nor Jackson has been involved.

Commenting on the DVD when it was first announced, Lloyd told Allhiphop.com: "We're giving it to y'all real raw, real uncensored, straight to DVD. It's about the whole Kim case, all the mixed words going out about [how] we told [on her] and this and that".

Exactly on what legal grounds Kim is objecting to the DVD is not clear, but both Lloyd and Ground Zero Entertainment are reportedly named in the lawsuit, which is looking to seek $6 million in damages for the rapper. Presumably by the time the case comes to court Kim will be in prison (her one year jail sentence for the perjury conviction kicks off in Sep) so any court hearing should, if nothing else, prove a nice day out of the slammer.

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ASHANTI FACES A LAWSUIT FROM HER FIRST MUSIC PRODUCER
Grammy award winning R&B star Ashanti faces a lawsuit from her first music producer, Genard Parker, who claims the singer owes him millions of dollars in royalties for work he did for her when she was just 16.

Parker's lawyer, Jasmine Khalili, told a New York court on Monday that while her client was an established music producer when Ashanti Douglas approached him back in 1996, she was "just another teenage girl with a nice voice". Parker claims he helped Ashanti in his Bronx studio for eight months before allowing her to sign with Jive Records on the understanding that he could produce two songs on her debut album and receive a $50,000 advance plus royalties. That agreement, Parker claims, was never honoured.

Even a small cut of Ashanti's royalties could, presumably, be quite a lot of money, given that her first two albums sold more than six million copies, though Khalili was keen to add that this case wasn't just about the money: "She has never paid him and, just as importantly, she has never thanked him."

Needless to say, Ashanti, now 24, denies Parker had played an instrumental role in her career, dismissing praise she'd once given him on a 1997 videotape as "a little bit of hype". On those previous comments the singer says: "I was excited. I thought I was getting a record deal."

Of course, this is not the first lawsuit Ashanti has faced regarding the start of her career. Last Oct TEAM Entertainment, a Georgian based entertainment company, sued her and her mother for $4 million over breach of contracts she signed with them, again when she was 16.

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MORE DOHERTY NONSENSE
More Doherty news anyone? Well, we hear that Mr Babyshambles is hoping to star in a film all about - erm, himself. Yep, Doherty has told Sky he hoping to make and star in a movie about his life so that he can "reconnect to his audience" and "dispel his junkie image". Can't wait.

Elsewhere in Doherty news, and it seems simple delays on recording that debut album might not, in fact, be the reason for the postponement of the upcoming Babyshambles tour. Gossipers now say the 'Fuck Forever' tour had to be canned after Doherty randomly sacked the rest of his bandmates.

Whether or not that is true we're not yet sure, though if it is the case surely those gig dates could still go ahead - Doherty is more than capable of making a tit of himself on stage without a band to back him and that, after all, is what everyone goes to see at a Babyshambles gig, isn't it?

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LACK CONSIDERS SMELLIE REPLACEMENT AT SONYBMG
Corporate gossip now, and following the announcement that SonyBMG Chief Operating Officer Michael Smellie will step down at the end of the year, word has it SonyBMG boss Andrew Lack is currently considering BMG US boss Charles Goldstuck and former Warner Music boss Roger Ames for the post. The former would be good for placating the BMG faithful within the still merging major - Smellie being their man on the SonyBMG board. However the Sony side of the business will be lobbying for another of their execs to get the prestigious role, so appointing an outsider like Ames might be a good way to avoid fuelling ongoing Sony / BMG tensions.

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I CAME, I SAW, IPOD, WHAT NEXT? NOT MOBILES
The future may be bright for digital music, but the future of digital music is not Orange. Nor T Mobile, Vodaphone, O2 or 3. Well, not if the panel at last night's MusicTank Think Tank event in London are anything to go by. Posed with the question as to what music technology might stop the seemingly unstoppable rise of the iPod, the consensus seemed to be that while the mobile phone was currently the hottest contender, it was unlikely to succeed.

Columnist Charles Arthur set out why. "Mobile phones face a number of problems if they want to compete in download space. Think about what questions customers are going to ask. Can I store my whole album collection on my mobile phone? No. Can I access my music in three clicks? No. Can I download tracks quickly and easily? No. Yes, the mobile companies do win on payment - people are used to buying ringtones on their mobile and having that charged to their phone bill - the same system can work for downloads. But on everything else they perform badly. And while the technology might catch up eventually, they are running out of time because Apple are also moving forward. A wireless iPod is increasingly likely. A video iPod too. I don't see the mobiles winning this one."

MusicAlly's Steve Mayall, while recognising the weaknesses of the mobile firms' music offerings, felt compelled to defend the phone companies' music ambitions, pointing out that the reach of the mobile industry is immense compared to any of the download music platforms. Not only that, but the major players in the mobile industry - France Telecom and Deutsch Telecom in particular - both own mobile networks and internet service providers which, together, would have customer reach vastly bigger than anything iTunes, Napster et al could ever dream of. Despite the limitations, the mobile networks, perhaps in partnership with their ISP sister companies, have an existing audience that gives them a real advantage in the digital music race.

But the University Of Sussex's Michael Bull remained cynical about the mobile sector's chances. "Different technologies suit different ideas. An iPod is an iPod. A phone is a phone. Consumers interact with them in different ways. Phones can play music, but it doesn't mean people will want to listen to music on them. And there is little I can see the mobile firms doing just now to change that."

Of course the mobile firms may yet prove the experts wrong because, as the whole panel agreed, the future of digital music has little to do with technology and everything to do with marketing. Barney Wagg of Universal's eLabs pointed out, "If there's one thing Apple showed us, it's that technology isn't the important thing here. Apple have succeeded because of style and consumer experience. Neither the iPod nor iTunes are particularly leading edge, in fact they have chosen to not use the latest DRM technology because doing so makes it less user friendly. The thing about iTunes is it works, it is easy to use and it is presented in a nice way. That's why it's been a hit".

All of which means that, despite the general damnation, perhaps there is a positive message for all the mobile firms out there in all this. Wagg continued: "The mobile music platforms I've seen remind me of the online download space in 1997. The technology is almost there, but the customer experience is rubbish. Don't forget, everything else is irrelevant." The message? Find yourself a Steve Jobs type figure who can look beyond the technology and come up with that big idea that will genuinely appeal to the cash rich music fan. Easy.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Michael Jackson - The Essential (Sony/Epic)
When the child abuse trial came to its dramatic conclusion and we pondered over Michael Jackson's financial affairs, we pointed out that Jacko was unlikely to take care of his overdraft by reselling back catalogue, even if the music buying public was willing to put the abuse allegations behind them, because, after all, surely everyone who wanted a Michel Jackson and / or Jackson 5 hits album already owned one. But it was only when I first received a press release for this hits package that I realised, I, for one, did not. And with my copies of 'Thriller', 'Bad' and 'Dangerous' on not-so-good-old cassette, the thought of owning the whole lot on one, well, OK, two CDs seemed quite appealing. Because, after all, whatever you say or think about Michael Jackson as a person, you can't deny that he has made some outstanding music over the years, and pretty much every track you could care to own is included on this album - from the early Jackson 5 days onwards. But, given the quality of the music on offer, and the ability of most music fans to separate Jackson's music from their opinions of his private life, the question of how well this album will sell takes us back to the original point - how many people are there out there that don't already have a sufficient amount of Jacko in their record collection to satisfy their appetite? I guess we'll find out the answer to that question when this week's sales figures are released. Of course, given the size of his reported debts, even if this album does top the charts, things still look uncertain for the Jacko franchise. The fact that, quality wise, things peak in the middle of this chronological run through Jackson's back catalogue suggests a new album would need a considerable return to form to match the sales of those eighties albums. One CMU colleague suggested disk two, which kicks off with Bad-era Jackson, was totally redundant - personally I still rate Jackson through to 'Black & White' - it's only around 'Heal The World' that I start to lose patience. But either way, the latter tracks on here are pretty poor when compared to those that fill disk one, which shouldn't stop you buying this compilation (the good outnumber the bad by at least two to one), but does pose Mr Jackson with a real challenge if he wants to solve his current financial woes through new music. CC
Release date: 18 Jul
Press contact: PPR [CP, RP, NP], Sony IH [CR, RR, NR]

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BESTIVAL MAIN STAGE LINE UP CONFIRMED
Organisers of the wonderful Bestival have announced the full line up for the main stage this year, which will be hosted by the Cuban Brothers and other guests. It looks just a little bit like this:

Friday: The Magic Numbers, Mylo, Dreadzone, Grand National, The Dub Pistols Featuring Terry Hall (The Specials), Two Lone Swordsmen, The Earlies, Sebastien Tellier

Saturday: Röyksopp, 2manydjs, Soulwax, Saint Etienne, Ulrich Schnauss, The Cuban Brothers, Hot Chip, Tom Vek, Husky Rescue

Sunday: Super Furry Animals, The Go! Team, Lee Scratch Perry, The Egg, Emiliana Torrini, Fat Freddy's Drop, VHS or Beta, Piney Gir, The Broken Family Band

Lots of other artists and happenings have also been confirmed - full details on it all at http://www.bestival.net - press info from Get Involved.

PS: Talking of festivals we love - our Glade review was meant to be in today's Daily. We loved it so much we're still struggling to get our list of the good bits down to something less than a short novel. We'll have it sorted by tomorrow, promise.

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NELLY SIGNS UP FOR SHOES
Nelly is to team up with sportswear giant Reebok and bring out a signature collection of footwear, clothing and accessories. The rap star, who likes his trainers, said "I've always been into sneakers and throughout my career I've always wanted to have a signature pair of sneakers that truly reflect my personal style. It made the most sense for me to partner with Reebok because they fully understand and respect the culture of sports, music and entertainment."

To promote the new line Nelly who will appear in commercials as part of Reebok's 'I Am What I Am' campaign. He's not the first rapper to go into partnership with Reebok - Jay-Z and 50 Cent did it too.

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CLOR PREPARE FOR SECOND ALBUM
Much fussed over electro indie darlings Clor haven't yet released their debut album, due out on 25 Jul, but are already keen to get started on its follow-up. Guitarist Luke Smith told Gigwise: "It's really exciting now the first album is done and it's getting released soon. We were discussing today the next album which we're going to start pretty much as soon as possible. We'll definitely be more mature (on the album) and change direction."

Frontman Barry Dobbin explains: "We've got too many ideas. Nothing's concrete at the moment, there's probably about 50 projects on the computer that we're working on, which we still haven't resolved yet." I suggest using a spreadsheet.

Clor continue with their current less mature sound tonight in Nottingham, continuing it on 28 Jul at Brighton Audio, and on 1 Aug in London.

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MS DYNAMITE GETS BACK TO WORK
Fresh from that Live 8 appearance and thoroughly rested after a nice long break, Ms Dynamite is to finally follow up her 2002 Mercury Music Prize winning debut this autumn with the release of a Double A-side single and her second album.

The single 'Judgement Day/Father' will be released on 26 Sep and will be followed by the album 'Judgement Days' on 3 Oct. On returning to some hard graft, she said: "I'm ready for it. I can't wait to get out there doing some more gigs. I've enjoyed my space behind the scenes and spending time with my family but it's time to get back to work now."

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ROLLING STONES NEW STUDIO ALBUM
The Rolling Stones are gearing up for the release of their first studio album since 'Bridges Of Babylon' in 1997 and a coinciding world tour. According to BreakingNews their new album 'Neo-con' sees a more political direction, the title supposedly critical of President Bush. I can think of more obvious words with which to criticise the American leader. 'War-Mongering Idiot', for example?

Anyway, the album was apparently recorded in France over 2004 and 2005, and is due for release on 5 Sep to coincide with their tour. So good news for all you Stones fans out there.

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PACHA ISSUE TWO NOW ONLINE
The second 2005 edition of Pacha magazine is now out in Ibiza, available in bars, hotels, shops and restaurants all over the island. As previously reported, Pacha magazine is a free lifestyle title filled with music, fashion and Ibiza style shenanigans and, as also previously reported, those of you not currently residing on the White Isle can download a copy off the net. Both this and last month's editions can be found at: http://www.pacha.com/pachamagazine.html

Commenting on his aims for the magazine, Pacha publisher Ben Turner, told CMU: "Our initial aim is to improve the image of Ibiza, to reflect the emergence of new style bars and boutique and rural hotels, but all to an underlying theme of electronic music which is the tempo of the island. And I believe that placing DJs such as Erick Morillo and Ricardo Villalobos next to Dolce & Gabbana and Paz Vega, has more impact for the dance scene than 180-pages of interviews with musicians and DJs. Our long-term aims are to develop a global lifestyle publication, as there are over 30 Pacha clubs around the world, and it's a brand we all believe travels well as a lifestyle concept."

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TEST ICICLES DISASTER CATALOGUE
According to NME, buzz band Test Icicles may win the prize for most accident prone group of the year, if such an award exists. Their last London show was cut short when the band's keyboardist Dev Hynes cut off half his toe on a broken bottle and passed out over his keyboard. Weeks later at the same venue band member Sam Mehran was pushed downstairs by an irate security guard, whilst third member Rory Atwell broke his nose whilst the band were on tour with Death From Above 1979 when he stage-dived into the crowd and they failed to catch him. I was planning to try and get along to a gig at some point, but I've decided against it. I'm scared a light might fall on my head.

Meanwhile, Test Icicles have donated a track to warchildmusic.com the proceeds of which, as I'm sure you all know by now, will be donated to the Warchild charity.

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ROGUE RUSSIAN DOWNLOAD SITE MOVES WEST
Russian music website AllofMP3.com, which has angered Western record labels because of its cut price downloads, continues to grow, now launching an offshoot service for the Czechoslovakian market.

As previously reported, AllofMP3.com offers music at considerably cheaper rates than its Western rivals, recently adopting a very different pricing structure where music is sold at a rate per MB, meaning the cost of a track or album depends on its length and the quality of the music file being sold. That said, the going rate is just 2 cents a MB so even long albums sold at a high quality would seem cheap compared to Western prices - Coldplay's 'X&Y', for example, can be downloaded for $1.17.

AllofMP3 claim to be a legitimate company operating within Russian copyright laws and royalty systems. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry is not convinced, but has found little support within the Russian government or Moscow courts to support their legal case against the download firm.

It remains to be seen if AllofMP3's expansion into the European Union will offer the IFPI a new legal route to tackle the company. The trade organisation's lawyers will certainly hope so because as the cut price download platform moves West its negative impact on the digital music space can only increase.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Martin Solveig - Everybody (Defected)
Stylish Parisian house producers are as ubiquitous as baloney R&B stars, but 28-year Martin Solveig is frequently top of the class. Already a well-known name in his native country (effectively the personal address of house music), Solveig like many of his contemporaries, displays his aptitude for the model crossover hit. Following top-40 success and downright cracker 'Rocking Music', 'Everybody' is as fun and undemanding as it is utterly forgettable; a clear-cut kick and hi-hat line the bottom while the (wait for it) fuzzy electric-guitar chords thrash the bluesy filling. Yes I know guitars and dance music is as derivative as those bloody R&B pests, but there's life in the old dog yet. The track's best feature is most likely the raucous, gravelly voice of 65-year old Elmer 'Lee' Fields, whose suitably soulful dynamic vocals screech and bark in a James Brown homage; although I'm not going to pretend I know who he is. Overall, it's regrettably nowhere near as good as its predecessor (I heart the Dub), but a summery radio-friendly party-starter nonetheless. OG
Release date: 26 Jul
Press contact: Phuturetrax [all]

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COKE EXPAND MUSIC PLATFORM
Talking of download platforms expanding - Coke are taking their Loudeye powered mycokemusic platform into new countries in Europe. The platform, which already operates in Switzerland and Austria as well as here in the lovely United Kingdom, will launch in both Italy and Ireland.

Commenting on the expansion, Brid Drohan, Media & Activation Manager at Coca-Cola Ireland took time off activating to tell reporters: "When the mycokemusic site opened in the UK in January last year, it was heralded as the first time a consumer goods brand moved into the digital music sector. The launch of mycokemusic.com in Ireland demonstrates a long-term commitment by Coca-Cola to offer consumers new and progressive ways to experience music."

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HARVEY OUT OF HOSPITAL
Brian Harvey has been released from hospital, seven weeks after that freakish incident in which he got crushed under the wheels of his own car. His girlfriend, model Emma B, has spoken about the former East 17 star's recovery in OK magazine. Harvey will need physio to help him walk again, after suffering severe injuries which included damage to his stomach, lungs, and legs and involved several broken bones.

Emma B said: "He can't walk because he broke his pelvis in seven places. He has a metal crossbar that sticks out of his pelvis which he's got to have on for 12 weeks. The ribs he broke are still quite sore but all the other injuries have mainly healed. Doctors told him that 99% of people with his injuries would have died, so it's a miracle he came through."

As previously reported, Harvey was previously suffering from depression, and there were rumours of the singer's suicide attempts, but his girlfriend says that's the last thing on his mind. Emma B continued: "Right now I wouldn't say he was suffering with depression. He feels lucky to be alive - he wants to live and be with me."

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MADONNA LOVES ENGLISH COUNTRY LIFE
Madonna has told American Vogue that she has fallen in love with English country life, and says that she sees England as her home now, not the US. She also says she is very different from the overtly sexual image she has portrayed over the years.

On her marriage to Guy Ritchie, she told the magazine: "The last thing I thought I would do is marry some laddish, shooting, pub going nature lover. And the last thing he thought he was going to do was marry some cheeky girl from the Midwest who doesn't take no for an answer. But now I love England and want to be here and not in America. I see England as my home."

She also described how the pair fell in love with their 1,000-acre estate, Ashcombe, on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, and says that she wears sensible shoes around the estate (well, it would only be sensible) whilst taking care of her flock of chickens. She also goes hunting (hang on, isn't that illegal?), fishing and riding. "To me, Ashcombe is a reflection of me and my husband in many ways, because it reflects our willingness to make a commitment." she said.

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ROBBIE REGRETS TATTOOS, APPARENTLY
Robbie Williams regrets covering his body with tattoos and thinks it would be a good idea to get them removed. IOL.com reports the following confession: "I do like getting them done but I wish it was like an Etch-a-Sketch where I can wipe them all out and start again. It would be nice to have a pure, clean body again."

Which may require more than just the removal of the tattoos, love.

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SUBWAYS TWO GET ENGAGED
Ah, young love! And it's really young love. They really are just kids. Anyway, no small amount of feverish speculation was put to rest earlier this week when The Subways frontman Billy Lunn announced his engagement to bassist Charlotte Cooper on stage. Rumours of wedding bells have abounded after Cooper was spotted sporting a ring on her finger at recent gigs. Lunn revealed she really is his Rock & Roll queen during a gig at the Camden Barfly, dedicating the song 'Somewhere' to Cooper with the words: "This one's for my fiancée."

The Subways, if you didn't know this, are a trio, two of whom are brothers, and two of whom are now engaged to each other. Call me cynical, but isn't that a recipe for disaster?

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