Monthly Archives: September 2002

Hmm. Twice in the last 24 hours, I’ve broken my rule of not buying any more music . Last night I picked up a couple of nice things at Kim’s, who were having a half-price sale. They figure the ‘lounge/incredibly strange music’ revival is long gone, clearly, since as well as what I picked up, I saw Henry Mancini’s Touch of Evil score, and a few Bruce Haack albums, all very cheap. I also just popped into Academy again. It is by some distance the best used CD store I’ve ever been too. I should stop going there.

Compilation - Harry Revel/Les Baxter: 'Music out of the Moon/Music for Peace of Mind/Perfume Set to Music' (CD; Request; 1954-1956)
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Compilation - Nancy Sinatra: 'Nancy & Friends' (CD; Marginal; 1966-1972)
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Cool - this doesn't seem entirely legal, but it does contain the whole of Nancy and Lee and Nancy and Lee Again. I've been trying to pick the latter up on vinyl for a few years. As a bonus, there's 'Things', sung with Dean Martin, and 'Feeling kinda Sunday' and 'Life's a trippy thing', sung with Frank Sinatra.

I haven't listened to this too much yet, but I particularly enjoyed 'Got it together', where Nancy and Lee have a conversation about how they're getting old. Also great are 'Big red balloon' and 'Down from Dover'.

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Hello. I’m really, really tired at this point. I hope I don’t get sick, as seems to be happening to everyone else. I enjoyed reading this Morrissey interview (incidentally, he talks about vegetarianism, not music).

Compilation: 'Ultra Lounge 17: Bongoland' (CD; Capitol; 1958-1966)
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I bought this used a couple of years ago, but had barely listened to it before today. It's really very enjoyable. On some tracks, the intensity of the bongos is a bit much, but many tracks have a very pleasing blend of exotic rhythms, vibes and bongos.

The compilation is helped by the quality of the material being performed, which includes standards like 'Taboo', 'Brazil', 'Caravan' and 'Miserlou', as well as a good Bond tune, 'Dr No's Fantasy'. For me, this is good music to have on CD; I have a few of the original albums (for example, Terry Snyder's Mister Percussion, but rarely listen to them. But in this context, they sound great. Also represented are Al Caiola, Dick Hyman, Les Baxter, Martin Denny and Jack Costanzo.

I've never been a huge fan of the kitschy presentation of the Ultra Lounge series, but I think the quality of the music really shines out on some of the volumes.

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I’ve taking to going to Academy records recently and not buying anything. Impressive, eh.

Compilation: 'The Mad, Mad World of Soundtracks' (CD; Motor; 1966-1972)
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Another superior soundtrack compilation. Put together by Frank Jastfelder and Stefan Kassel, this 1997 compilation also includes liner notes in English, with original cover art. The 20 tracks are all pretty fantastic. The compilers choose a mixture of original soundtrack cuts and cover versions of pieces from films. Both work very well, and there are some absolute classics on here, such as Henry Mancini's theme from The Party, complete with a rocking chorus, and Sid Ramin's original 'Stilletto' theme, which features an incredibly catchy and funky organ sound, together with a bare beat.

Particularly effective tracks that are not original versions include the two Chaquito (aka UK arranger John Gregory) cuts, 'The name of the game' and 'It takes a thief', and Maurice Pop's '77 Sunset Strip' (a bouncy version with wordless vocals, sounding completely different from the original). There's also a Paul Desmond version of Hugo Montenegro's 'Lady in Cement', while Montenegro himself takes on Lalo Schifrin's 'The fox', with superb 'Ba-ba' vocals.

There's also some soft-pop style material on here, including Harpers Bizarre ('Malibu U') and The Sandpipers ('beyond the valley of the dolls'). Also very enjoyable is Mark Lindsay's version of Burt Bacharach's 'Something Big'.

Compilation: 'Dig it! The sound of Phase 4 Stereo' (CD; Deram; 1965-1973)
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Compiled by The Karminsky Experience, who were responsible for better-known compilations like 'In-flight Entertainment' and 'Espresso Espresso', this UK-issue disc contains exclusively material from the London Phase 4 label. It makes for fun listening, with most tracks being brassy British easy listening takes on pop hits of the 60s.

Roland Shaw, Claude Denjean and John Keating are among the artists represented. Probably my favorite tracks are the two groovy Ted Heath tracks, 'don't cha hear me calling to ya' and 'spinning wheel', and Ronnie Aldrich's superb twin piano rendition of 'Soulful Strut'. Beyond that, this is pleasant without being outstanding.

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Remember, I only said slightly less morose. Still, it’s a stunningly beautiful day, and I guess things could be worse.

Compilation: 'Cocktail Mix Vol 4: Soundtracks With a Twist' (CD; Rhino; 1958-1968)
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I've had this compilation for over five years, and it still slays me every time. It's just a perfect distillation of almost everything I find cool and interesting about 60s soundtrack music. There are 15 tracks, and pretty much all the greats film composers are represented, including John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini, Quincy Jones, Michel Legrand, Burt Bacharach and Francis Lai.

Although Lai's most famous work—the exquisite wordless 'A man and a woman'—is here, most of the selections are anything but obvious. John Barry is represented by 'The Knack', a spooky and superbly atmospheric theme. The Ennio Morricone theme to 'Ad ogni costo' is a wild, catchy theme that I've only heard via this compilation. Mancini's excellent and rather rare 'Susan' is taken from 'A touch of evil'.

The other great thing about this compilation is the way it highlights the work of George Duning. Most famous for his score to Picnic, Duning also scored the witchcraft movie Bell, Book and Candle and The World of Suzie Wong. Three tracks from these (2 from 'Bell', one from 'Suzie') are included here, and all are excellent pieces of beatnik-style jazz with plenty of bongos and horns.

Pretty much every track is worthy of special mention, so here we go. Nelson Riddle's 'Lolita Ya Ya' is a nice change of pace - a slow, almost 50s-style number with girly (yes, little girly) vocals and great strings. Michel Legrand's 'The Boston Wrangler' from The Thomas Crown Affair is a pulsating track with a fantastic organ sound. Alex North's 'Misfits Theme' is a super-cool bouncy jazzy number with piano and wild horns. Quincy Jones's 'Happy Feet', from Walk, don't run, is a fun, laid-back track with whistling. Burt Bacharach's 'Stripping Really isn't sexy is it?' from What's New Pussycat is classic Bacharach, nice and jazzy with some surprising time signature changes. Herbie Hancock's 'Bring down the Birds' from Blow up will be familiar to most, since it was sampled to great effect by DeeeLite.

And I nearly forgot: Johnny Williams's 'Come live with me (with vocals by Tony Scotti) is a fantastic piece of croony pop with a cool jazzy piano backing.

There really isn't a bad track here, and if you need an education in 60s film music, I highly recommend starting here.

Compilation - Beach Boys: 'Endless Harmony' (CD; EMI; 1966-1980)
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Hmm. I'm going to have to put my neck out and say this really isn't such a great disc. It has enough in the way of outtakes and curiosities to satisfy a Beach Boys geek. And I'm nearly a Beach Boys geek. But not enough of one to really enjoy this. I think at the end of the day my problem with the disc is that it highlights the cheesier side of the band's work.

I bought this compilation shortly after it came out in order to hear the outtake of 'Til I die', one of my favorite Beach Boys tracks. It's interesting, to be sure; twice as long, with a vibraphone very high in the mix. Also interesting are alternate mixes of 'Surfer Girl', 'Kiss me, Baby' and 'California Girls', and rehearsal version of 'Good vibrations' and 'God only knows'.

Less enjoyable are the live tracks - 'Long promised road' has lost its studio magic, and tracks like 'Wonderful' and 'Darlin' were never really to my taste anyway.

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I seem to be slightly less morose this week. I bought myself a present today: a Japan national team football shirt. Paragon on Broadway just above Union Square finally got them in.

Compilation - Mina: 'Briciole Di Baci' (CD; Replay Music; 1966-1969)
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Mina is one of my favorite female singers - dramatic, passionate, and with a vast back catalogue that saw her attempt lots of different material, much of which I like very much. This compilation, released in 1992, is one of many Mina compilations on the Italian 'Replay Music' label. While these are often available quite cheaply, they generally contain no information about when the tracks are from, which is a little annoying.

There's some great material on here, but a lot of very different styles are mixed up. The opening track, 'Stringimi forte i polsi', is a pleasant bossa nova-styled number, but tracks like 'Renato' and 'Stessa spiaggia stesso mare' are more old style rock'n'roll. There are also some big-band style numbers with wild, goofy singing (like 'folle banderuola', 'Bum, ahi! Che colpo di luna', 'Briciole di baci').

The disc also includes a nice version of the classic 'Moliendo cafe' and an interesting Italian language version of Jobim's 'Dindi'. However, my favorite songs are probably the dramatic and atmospheric ballads like 'Improvvisamente', 'le tue mani' and 'piano'. In particular, the vocal performance on 'Piano', in which Mina starts to weep, is incredible.

All in all, this is a nice disc, but the slightly incoherent ordering of tracks means I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to get it.

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Nearly the weekend. Not quite yet though.

Compilation - Bertrand Burgalat: 'The genius of' (CD; Bungalow; 1993-2000)
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I would describe Bertrand Burgalat's production style as a lo-fi mixture of strings and Pet Shop Boys-style keyboards and synths, with a pleasant retro undercurrent.

This compilation is the Bungalow label's salute to his work, and mixes up a handful of things I know well with a lot that I had never heard before.

Burgalat's remix of Ladytron's 'he took her to a movie' illustrates his superb, Air-like production, with cool bouncy bass and synth sounds. Moderato's 'Him' is another exemplary illustration of how he appropriates some of the best features of Serge Gainsbourg's landmark Melody Nelson album--airy soundscapes, acoustic guitars--and modernizes them beautifully.

It was also through this compilation that I first discovered Cinnamon; the strings on Burgalat's production of 'maybe in the next life' are superb. It's a wonderfully catchy song, probably my favorite on this disc, with a great mix of compelling lyrics, great guitar playing, and wonderful production.

Not every track is a killer, but this is still a very nice disc to have. One track I already had that appears here is 'Sugar', from April March's Chrominence Decoder (while March's vocal here is in English, her delivery is in that cool faux-French style that she has perfected). female vocal. Also featured is 'Pink Elephants', the opening track on Mick Harvey's 2nd Gainsbourg tribute album of the same name. It's a beautiful, stringy instrumental, which I came to love long before I knew Burgalat's name.

Apparently Burgalat produced the latest Anita Lane record; I'm sure there's much more to come from him.

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Thanks to new musical taste member noisyspoon, I read this article in Stylus magazine on New Order. The bulk of the album consists of an album-by-album overview of the band’s career, with each album rated out of 10.

While I’m just as obsessive about the band as the article’s author, I have different ideas about which albums were best. Power, Corruption and Lies and Low Life were rated highest with 10 out of 10, while Movement and Brotherhood were considered only ‘6.8’. I don’t think any of these albums are perfect, but would probably give Power, Corruption and Lies and Low Life each 7, and Movement and Brotherhood 8. This is because while I love songs like ‘Age of Consent’ and ‘Love Vigilantes‘, I hate ‘Ultraviolence’ and ‘Face Up’.

I pretty much agree with the other ratings (Republic gets 5.1), but I don’t feel moved to celebrate Substance in the same way as the author does (10 out of 10 again). Yes, there’s some great stuff on here, but If I recall correctly, a few of the versions on Substance, such as ‘Temptation’, are not the original 12″ versions, but are inferior 1987 re-recordings. The original 45 version of ‘Temptation’ is in my opinion by far the best. What I’m saying is that my own compilation of ‘the best of New Order’ would be very specific to me, and there are certain tracks that I never want to hear again in my life!

This is all very dull if you don’t like New Order. Sorry about that.

Jorge Ben: 'Sacundin Ben Samba' (CD; Universal; 1963)
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I suspect that Jorge Ben's style is an acquired taste. His vocals are quite raw, and he seems to be very comfortable with going out of tune if the mood requires it. That said, I find him one of the most incredible composers in Brazil, I love the textures and moods of his 60s (and some of his 70s) recordings, and I've come to love his voice.

Sacundin Ben Samba beings with the out-of-tune vocals of 'Anjo Azul', accompanied by just a guitar. The track builds gradually with horns and percussion to a beautiful and explosive chorus. 'Nena Nanã' sounds like a rough draft for Ben's famous 'Mais Que Nada', with many of the same musical phrases thrown in.

The album continues with eleven quite similar tracks; all have a very cool pop feel to them, spiced up with jazzy piano and percussion. Highlights for me 'Capoeira', with the superb blanket of sound provided by Ben's voice and the piano and percussion, and the catchy chorus of vocals on 'Carnaval Triste'.

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Down in the dumps again today. Chemical imbalance? I’m reading a book called The Psychic Power of Running, which I bought from a thrift store at the weekend (I note with amusement that the amazon price before shipping is 20 cents less than I paid). It claims that running is the answer to all minor instances of depression. Actually, I am going running tonight. I was going anyway, though.

The best thing that has happened today is that I heard a car horn that played ‘Speak Softly Love’, the theme from the Godfather. I might have scoffed if it had been a cellphone ring, but the car horn seemed really cool somehow.

Compilation - Joyce: 'The Essential Joyce' (CD; Mr Bongo; 1970-1996)
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This compilation is a chronological overview of Joyce's career, with the first 4 tracks from 1970, continuing through the 70s and 80s, with the final track being from 1996. The early tracks are from a variety of famous composers, including Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso, but as time goes on, the material is all composed by Joyce herself. Her style is influenced by jazz and folk, while still sounding very much in the lineage of classic bossa nova.

The 1970 tracks are really a revelation. The compilation starts with an exuberant version of 'Caqui'; the guitar playing makes it sound like banjo! The effect of this and Joyce's charming vocal is reminiscent of Jorge Ben's 60s work. 'Nada Será Como Antes', a meditative vocal, starts simply enough, but when it gets going, many strange sound effects and percussion sounds give it an eerie feel. 'Adeus Maria Fulô' begins with an echo effect on the vocal and a doomy organ. Soon, a guitar comes in, and while the chords remain unusual and slightly dissonant, the mood gradually gets lighter, before the scary organ comes back again. 'The man from the avenue' begins with some moody strings, and has a desolate, lonely vocal. It actually sounds ahead of its time, and the mood reminds me of some of Everything but the Girl's early 80s material.

The next really hot period for Joyce seems to have been 1980, when she came out with the sublime 'aldeia de ogum', which is built around a repetitive guitar and scat vocal riff. Equally enchanting is the catchy 'Femina', with great guitar and vocal performances. Also worthy of mention is 'Fã Da Bahia', which features a reprise of the tune to 'Baia', and the same pleasant blend of vocals and guitar that makes Joyces's work so pleasant. At the end of 'Clareana', Joyce shows that she is partial to the same compulsion previously exhibited by Astrud Gilberto and Claudine Longet: having children sing on her records. It's just for a while at the end, though, and doesn't spoil the song.

Some of the mid 70s material is a bit 'samey', and fails to really set my world alert, and the one track here from the 90s, 'Rodando A Baiana' is not really to my taste, but overall, this is a great compilation to have.

Compilation - Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers: 'The Best of Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers' (CD; Prestige; 1967-1970)
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Although presented in an ugly package (Prestige/Fantasy's 'Legends of Acid Jazz' series), this is a nice compilation of tracks from Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers albums on Prestige in the late 60s: Jungle Fire!, Dateline, Shuckin' and Jivin', Heat and Big Stick.

Many of the tracks are simple, well-executed latin jazz jams with piano, horns and a lot of percussion. Some, like 'Psychedelic Pucho' and 'Heat,' remind me of the work on Ray Barretto's 'Acid' album, except without the vocals. Repetetive and long, these would make great party music.

Others, such as 'Swamp People,' and 'Swing Thing' get a bit more frenetic and jazzy. In contrast, there are also some slower, meditative pieces, like 'Return to me', a slow piece with piano, bongos and delicate horns.

Some standards are tackled: there's a great, vibrant Latin Jazz workout of 'Dearly Beloved', while 'Here's that rainy day', which I know mainly from Julie London and Astrud Gilberto's versions, is given a delicate treatment with piano, strings and vibes.

I like Pucho, but don't want to listen to him every day, and so this compilation suits me quite well.

Sutrasonic: 'Bollywood Breaks (sampler)' (CD; Outcaste; 2000)
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I bought this after a friend played me the version of 'Temptation' that it features: the same old 'temptation', but with a pulsating breakbeat behind it. It was catchy and repetitive, and the odd thing about it was that it didn't sound at all modern. For that reason, I thought that this was a compilation of the funkiest cuts on original Bollywood soundtracks. In fact, this isn't the case at all, as is clear when you read the tiny print on the inside of the digipak.

The compilers of 'Bollywood Funk' put this 8-track collection together as an example of how Bollywood cuts can be spliced together and distilled into some heavy dance music.

This doesn't sound altogether like something I would like, but in fact, it's great. The producers resist the temptation to lay on heavy modern beats, as so many remixers do. Instead they seem to use almost entirely original samples. They also manage to avoid the overtly repetitious jams that often come from the lazier sampling contingent. The result is an atmospheric delight, with strong rhythms, moody tablas, wandering flutes and dramatic strings. Most of the tracks are instrumental, with the exception of 'Lover's paradise' (which is pretty similar to the original track, from Laawaris) and 'Temptation'.

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I guess yesterday didn’t end up being that bad, and with the help of Ennio Morricone, today has been quite pleasant.

Compilation - Ennio Morricone: 'More Mondo Morricone' (CD; Colisseum; 1966-1977)
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This is a great follow-up to the original Mondo Morricone. I was also happy to note recently that there's a third volume coming out. It seems that they are also reissuing the first two volumes with extra tracks.

The mood of the compilation is quietly menacing. Even the most beautiful tracks, such as 'Alla Serenita', sound rather sad and delicate.

Almost every one of the 16 tracks here is a highlight; of particular note is the 9 minute 'Come Maddelena' suite, which is utterly stunning, mixing spare, jazzy drumming with church organs and wordless vocal choirs. Interestingly, I recently came across a disco version of this (with overlaid bass and drums) on the B-side of the early 80s UK 7" single of 'Chi Mai'.

'Amore come Dolore' (aka Ridebi) is another long (6 minutes plus) moody piece, and is quite exquisite, with classic Morricone instrumentation. 'Sospiri Da Una Radio Lontana' is notable for it's stereo wordless vocals and sex noises.

There are also more disturbing, discordant tracks, like 'Svegliati E Uccidi' and 'Citta Violenta', and pretty straight-up beat tracks like 'Svota Definitiva'.

However, it's beautiful pop/atmospheric material like 'L'Ultimo' and 'Um Bacio' that really slays me.

Compilation - Ennio Morricone: 'Belmondo Morricone Verneuil' (CD; Play-Time; 1971-1975)
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This a compilation of the soundtracks to Le Casse and Peur sur la ville. Le Casse will be immediately familiar to anyone who has the Canto Morricone Volume 3 compilation. Its superb themes were sung by both Astrud Gilberto and Mireille Mathieu on that compilation.

To me, much of Le Casse is classic Morricone - sweeping strings, simple, stabbing themes, and spooky sound effects. Other highlights of the score are Astrud Gilberto's bizarre Italian singing on 'Argomenti' and 'Una Donna Che Ti Ama'. 'Ma non troppo erotico' is slow and spooky with a sexy wordless vocal. It sounds like strip-club music, but cooler. 'Rodeo' is also great, starting out slow, bare and atmospheric, and then kicking in with some drums after about a minute.

Peur sur la ville is a very different sounding score - far more jerky and dissonant, and far less pop-oriented. While effective, most of it doesn't stand up so well outside the cinema. One notable exception is 'Défense De Stationner' (aka 'Sosta Vietata'), which is an incredibly beautiful instrumental - classic Morricone with strings, harpsichord and brass. 'Letellier Et Hélène' is similarly beautiful, and recalls some of the great work compiled on Mondo Morricone.

As a bonus, this disc includes 2 Mireille Mathieu versions of songs from Le Casse.

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Today is innately depressing. My team lost to their deadliest rivals. The weather is miserable. And lots more shit I’m not going to talk about here. However, I have music at least.

Compilation: 'Sound Spectrum' (CD; Castle; 1966-1973)
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It was this 1995 compilation that unleashed the glory of Roy Budd's Get Carter soundtrack on my previously ignorant ears. Four glorious tracks from that masterpiece open the Sound Spectrum, which remains one of my absolute favorite compilations. The tablas, harpsichord and sound effects on the main theme are so intoxicatingly atmospheric that I feel shivery listening to them even now.

Although the main Get Carter theme is repetitive, the other cuts chosen here are different - more soulful, with poppy lyrics. All of the cuts are dominated by Budd's bluesey organ soloing.

Other highlights (and there are many) include the City of Westminster String Band's takes on 'A touch of velvet' and 'Split Level', Chico Rey and the Jet Band's incredible bouncy take on the theme from 'Stiletto', Roy Budd's wonderful 'Hurry to me' (aka Ennio Morricone's 'Metti...' theme). Also making a couple of covert appearances is Angelo Badalamenti (aka Andy Badale) as Sister Goose & the Ducklings and Badder than Evil.

Finally, this is also where I first discovered the Cecil Holmes Soulful Sound version of the 2001 theme (from an LP I have called 'Black Motion Picture Experience'). This may have been inspired by Deodato's version, but in my opinion, it eclipses it.

All in all, this is an utterly brilliant compilation - the mood of every track is delightful.

1. Get carter - Roy Budd
2. Love is a four letter word - Roy Budd
3. Getting nowhere in a hurry - Roy Budd
4. Plaything - Roy Budd
5. Hurry to me - Roy Budd
6. Grow your own - John Schroeder
7. Headband - John Schroeder
8. Touch of velvet - City Of Westminster String Band
9. Split level - City Of Westminster String Band
10. Stiletto - Chico Rey & The Jet Band
11. Heavy Water - Ray Davies& His Funky Trumpet
12. Mach 1 - Ray Davies & His Funky Trumpet
13. Speakin' of spoken - Lovin' Spoonful
14. Supershine No 9 - Sister Goose And The Ducklings
15. Loner - Milton Hunter
16. Busy body - Ted Dicks
17. Birds - Tony Hatch
18. 2001 - Cecil Holmes Soulful Sound
19. Pegasus - Mike Vickers
20. Hot wheels - Badder Than Evil

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