Aug 11

JIMMY NAIL – “Ain’t No Doubt”

FT + Popular99 comments • 8,170 views

#678, 18th July 1992

“Ain’t No Doubt” plants its emotional flag in territories claimed and mapped by Phil Collins – that master of gangrenous wrath and bitterness lurking below blokery’s rumpled jacket. It’s break-up pop of the shabbiest kind; lies, quarrels and wilful miscommunication played out raw in front of us. On TV Nail played hard bastards, for laughs or drama or both – some of the intrigue of his pop career must have been seeing a more sensitive element in him, but I doubt the straight-talking, bullshit-calling narrator of “Ain’t No Doubt” came as much of a shock to the fanbase.

What’s rather more surprising is the music. Most of Nail’s records were thoroughly trad: gruff, measured rock and soul stylings, workmanlike performances enlivened by the odd Knopfler guest-spot. “Ain’t No Doubt”, on the other hand, is a one-of-a-kind meeting of pub rock and swingbeat: ruminative, finger-pointing spoken passages broken up by a two-fisted funk chorus that lunges at you like a closing time drunk. It would be an odd record if anyone had recorded it, but this really isn’t the style you expect a 38-year-old TV star to pioneer.

Here’s the really strange thing: it kind of works. The lurching production is so awkward, its singer so ill-at-ease, it makes Nail’s spoken passages rawer – this is a man happy to humiliate himself if it gets the message about his partner’s perfidy across. Contrast his lumbering with the smooth replies from the ever-professional Sylvia Mason-James, quite at home in this setting: it’s as if Jimmy’s barged into the disco on a girls’ night out to shame his lady, and we’re onlookers peeping through our fingers.

It’s also an unintentionally funny record, of course, and probably the most imitated of the year. And in the end it’s not a thing you’d want to listen to much: I couldn’t stretch to calling it good. But it’s interestingly, admirably bad in a way most TV-star records aren’t.



  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Jimmy Nail invents The Streets

  2. 2
    Kat but logged out innit on 30 Aug 2011 #

    This is a great record to sing along to!


  3. 3
    Tom on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Actually “unintentionally funny” is unfair and lazy – J Nail is not a dimwit and must have been aware how meme-able the track is.

  4. 4
    punctum on 30 Aug 2011 #

    The most successful of the Geordie actor’s occasional forays into music – in 1992 he was best known as the star of the BBC detective series Spender – “Ain’t No Doubt” is an extremely sharp, smart slice of metapop. Indeed, Nail almost seems like a spectator at his own record. The verses consist of a monologue where his lover is leaving him and offering him bland and palpably false words of reassurance, but Nail could just as well be sitting in his chair, listening to another lie of a love song (“She says it’s like in the song, remember? If you love somebody, set them free? Well that’s how it is with me”), counting off its clichés– “She says, it’s not you, it’s me/I need a little time, a little space” – before adding his own blunt reflections: “Oh yeah, I know a goodbye when I hear it,” “So I say ‘Fine’ and just hope that I’m a better liar than she is.”

    Then a second voice, Sylvia Mason-James (sounding very much like Sarah Cracknell) comes in to turn the track into momentarily lush Brill Building pop, with Nail still cynically grumbling – “I don’t want nobody else, I love you (She’s lying)/There won’t be somebody else and that’s true (She’s lying!)” – before he explodes into an exasperated, slightly strangulated howl of a chorus, patterned after the US Army jogging chant: “Ain’t no doubt it’s plain to see!/A woman like you’s no good for me!” over a brightly energetic white soul backdrop (very reminiscent of late period Style Council with its horns and Guy Pratt’s marauding bass). Pratt also co-wrote and co-produced the record (with Danny Schogger and Nail himself) and echoes the singer’s inner turmoil with clattering drum drop-outs, slamming doors and Neil Sidwell’s morose trombone solo. Only right at the end of the fadeout does Nail break down: “It’s you saAAAAA-ying goodbye!” he wails, aghast.

    It’s a brilliant piece of work, easily worthy of Saint Etienne – who at the same time in 1992 released their greatest single, the staggering “Avenue,” seven-and-a-half minutes long, discursive and therefore little played, but which pulled all the punctum strands in avant-pop, from the Pretty Things to Dollar, together with a rare mix of acuity and tenderness; it peeked cautiously into the chart for one week at number 40 before thinking better of it and beating a swift retreat – though it took Nail’s sense of theatricality to make the bleeding sound as though it is coming from a real person, and not, as with so much other “worthy” pop-soul of the period, a bar chart of demographic responses to “emotion,” since its role is to examine and question the truthfulness of “emotion” in the pop song as a whole. Did somebody say Lexicon Of Love?

  5. 5
    Scott M on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Thing is, as preposterous as this is, Jimmy Nail takes (or took) it, and his other stuff, like the equally bizarre Love Don’t Live Here Anymore cover, very seriously. (That’s not to say that this isn’t very good though, definitely more than a 4 for me.)

    EDIT: Just seen Tom’s comment; this is just what I’ve read about him. He doesn’t seem stupid but delusions of grandeur can belie that.

  6. 6
    chelovek na lune on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Very much better than anything the Streets ever came close to doing (all of which is monochrome in comparison), and much better than anyone had any reason to expect it to be. Definitely better than a four in my book, too. Maybe a six.

    But as good as “Avenue” – indeed a quite outstanding work, of some intricate beauty – or even the weakest track (if I could even decide if any of them might deserve to be described as such) on “The Lexicon of Love”?

    I can’t go for that (no can do).

    Although maybe Hall and Oates – on a track like, say, “Private Eyes”, isn’t such a bad point of comparison (although “Ain’t No Doubt” is its inferior, melodically. (I’m not lying)

  7. 7
    MarkG on 30 Aug 2011 #

    I’d give this one an eight, remember the golden rule: “If you can make a record that’s better than people reasonably expect, do it.” Here, we were all genuinely surprised that this record was as good as it was, given that his previous effort was a dull-ish cover version.

    Which is why most of the solo singles from ex-members of Girls Aloud shouldn’t have bothered: Wearing nighties in yr video with a song that is some variation of a theme along the lines of “I’m Yours” is what you’d expect.

    There are a million other examples, but I digress…

    There’s a great story about how JimNail’s Virgin contract was ended, but it’s probably actionable so no.

  8. 8
    Billy Smart on 30 Aug 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Jimmy Nail thrice performed ‘Ain’t No Doubt’ on Top of the Pops. Details of the Christmas edition shall be provided anon;

    16 July 1992. Also in the studio that week were; Wet Wet Wet, The Wedding Present, Jason Donovan, The Shamen and Sophie B Hawkins, plus a live performance by satellite from Billy Ray Cyrus in Nashville. Mark Franklin was the host.

    23 July 1992. Also in the studio that week were; Sunscreem, Shakespeare’s Sister, Enya and Jon Secada. Claudia Simon & Tony Dortie were the hosts.

  9. 9
    swanstep on 30 Aug 2011 #

    This is new to me, but at first listen I like it quite a lot, and it feels like a 6 or 7 (maybe more – those horns are tasty, the shuffle beat works, the bass is great, and the female vocal timbre is just…. right). I could easily imagine this gender-flipped and done by Swing Out Sister – the #1 they never had. Anyhow, although all my thoughts here must be provisional, this was a very pleasant surprise…

  10. 10
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 Aug 2011 #

    I think “unintentionally funny” is spot-on. Nail is not stupid, no, but this is ludicrous and half-inching the US Army jogging chant simply pushes it over the edge of ridicule.

  11. 11
    MarkG on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #8 how nice that it seems everyone was on the same week as The Wedding Present, recently. It’s their “Hit Parade” year innit?

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 30 Aug 2011 #

    The chorus screws this up for me. US army marching songs seemed to be all over the place (post gulf war?) at the time, so it was a smart move. But a novelty song called I’m On The Train would have been a smart move a few years later – doesn’t mean it would have actually been GOOD.

    I assumed Sylvia Mason-James would emerge, Seal-like, as a star after her cameo, and listening to her now I can’t believe it didn’t happen.

  13. 13
    Billy Smart on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Jimmy Nail’s heyday as a TV guest was in the nineties;

    ASPEL & COMPANY: with Jimmy Nail, Alice Cooper, Catherine Zeta Jones (1992)

    DES O’CONNOR TONIGHT: with Jimmy Nail, Chris Barrie, Berry Gordo, Jethro, Those Two Girls (1995)

    FRIDAY NIGHT’S ALL WRIGHT: with Pete Tong, Lennox Lewis, The Lilt Ladies, Helen Chamberlain, Chris Eubank, Rosanna Arquette, Jimmy Nail, Paulo De Canio, Shania Twain, Cleopatra (1998)

    THE NATIONAL LOTTERY LIVE: with Bob Monkhouse, Alan Dedicoat (The Voice of the Balls), Jimmy Nail, Steve Coogan (Tony Ferrino) (1996)

    THE O ZONE: with Jimmy Nail, Moist, Jade (1995)

    OFF THE RECORD: with Jimmy Nail (1985)

    THE SOUTH BANK SHOW: Jimmy Nail (1995)

    STEVE WRIGHT’S PEOPLE SHOW: with Joan Rivers, Jimmy Nail, Linda Evans, Yanni (1995)

    T•F•I• FRIDAY: with Will Macdonald, Andrew the Barman, Beverley Callard, Jimmy Nail, Reef, Texas (1997)

    THE TUBE: with Jools Holland, Paula Yates, Mel Smith, Jimmy Nail, Tona De Brett, Richard Strange, Little Richard, Charles White, Balaam and The Angel, The Bluebells (1985)

    WOGAN: with Bronski Beat, Marc Almond, Virginia Holgate, William Hall, Peter Massey, Jimmy Nail, Geoffrey Thomson (1985)

    WOGAN: with Charlotte Lewis, Jimmy Nail, Michael Newby, Johnny Speight (1986)

    WOGAN: with Kevin Costner, The Miltown Boys, Jimmy Nail (1991)

    Unless I missed out on something, giving him a South Bank Show profile was perhaps pushing it a bit!

  14. 14
    chelovek na lune on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #8 Good Lord, you’ve done something amazing – that list of artists from those two editions of TOTP (and the songs they were performing) succeeds in making 1992 look like, if not a year of pop greatness, then at least a year in which there genuinely were some great pop numbers doing the rounds. Which is not how I have ever thought of it. Sunscreem! Jon Secada! Sophie B Hawkins! One might not get that impression from the no 1s. (I know this has been said of 1989 too, but for that year it was easy to find a counter-response to the naffness of Jive Bunny et al)

  15. 15
    wichita lineman on 30 Aug 2011 #

    NOW! watch

    Jimmy appears on Disc 2 of Now 22 between the Big O and Joe Cocker, which I’m sure he’d have been quite happy about. A pretty unappealing batch of old people music until En Vogue perk things up.

    I’ll throw my hat into the ring for Richard Marx’s Twin Peaks-channeling AOR murder mystery, though.

    1. Richard Marx : “Hazard”
    2. Elton John : “The One”
    3. Roy Orbison : “I Drove All Night”
    4. Jimmy Nail : “Ain’t No Doubt”
    5. Joe Cocker : “Unchain My Heart”
    6. Curtis Stigers : “You’re All That Matters To Me”
    7. Wilson Phillips : “You Won’t See Me Cry”
    8. Crowded House : “Four Seasons in One Day”
    9. Annie Lennox : “Why”
    10. George Michael and Elton John : “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
    11. Diana Ross : “One Shining Moment”
    12. Vanessa L. Williams : “Save the Best for Last”
    13. En Vogue : “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”
    14. Soul II Soul : “Joy”
    15. Incognito : “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”

  16. 16
    wichita lineman on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Re 14: I remember it as a pretty great year, and the no.2s tend to bear that out on the whole. Not in this case though – Jimmy kept the pretty dire Sesame’s Treet off the top. Phew.

    Yes, Jon Secada! Just Another Day is one of the most oddly structured hits of the day. A musicologist could probably explain it, but the chorus comes it an odd moment, the chord progressions seem unresolved, the whole thing has an air of desperate melancholy.

  17. 17
    flahr on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Nail is curiously resemblant of Kevin Rowland in the video, and indeed “Ain’t No Doubt” is, well, curiously good. “Come on,” think I, “it’s a TV star’s spinoff single, it will probably be amusingly awful”, but no, as #1 says Jimmy Nail does a competent Mike Skinner and the chorus is surprisingly funky and it all comes off as an uncar-crash, somehow. [6]

  18. 18
    thefatgit on 30 Aug 2011 #

    In the days before I realised I was a bit rockist, I would have said this was a bit well…naff, really. Without properly understanding why songs like this send me running for cover, I would have dismissed it as an actor’s vanity project, like Bruce Willis for instance. There’s nothing wrong with his version of “Under The Boardwalk” except that I’m imagining a smug little smile on his face which says “I’m doing this because I’m Bruce Willis, and I couldn’t give 2 cents whether it’s any good or not.”

    To be fair, that’s a bit harsh on Ooor Jimmy, who has quite a versatile voice. There’s an oh-so-subtle hint of grit, compared to Rod Stewart’s gravel. The chant-along chorus lifts the song, but I can’t forgive those spoken asides, having been subjected to McCartney/Jackson’s “The Girl Is Mine” from a few years back. I like the idea of giving an almost *cough* bluesy song, a funky twist, but in a more deft helmsman’s hands like say, Chris Rea it might have been so much more. I just can’t love it. 5

  19. 19
    23 Daves on 30 Aug 2011 #

    I think it was my mother who pointed out at the time that there are some resemblances between this and Dennis Waterman’s “I Could Be So Good For You”, except “Ain’t No Doubt” is a rather more downbeat, negative affair. There again, she also said it managed to resemble “I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor”.

    I need to listen to this one again, I think. It irritated the shit out of me at the time due to its sheer over-exposure, so a fresh pair of ears may be necessary.

  20. 20
    hectorthebat on 30 Aug 2011 #

    I remember this song at primary school, and Jimmy Nail being an unlikely (in hindsight) heartthrob for some of the girls. I also remember the schoolyard joke that Jimmy Nail was going to get togther with Pliers (of Chaka Demus fame) to form some kind of tool-based supergroup.

    As a song, this really represents what Popular is all about. As a song, it really isn’t great. It deliberately steals from a US Army chant, is repetitive to the point of distraction, and is “sung” by a man who is about as far from a natural popstar as you could get. However, as a “great” number 1, it ticks all the boxes. For repetitive, read catchy. It’s more memorable than most of the songs either side of it on this list, but I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my Ipod! In addition, the fact that it’s by Jimmy Nail, and not, say, Wet Wet Wet, or UB40, means that it stands out, and led to a USP.

    Where is Jimmy Nail now? Surely he’d be perfect for I’m a Celebrity – instantly recognisable, down on his luck, and a “cult” figure.

  21. 21
    punctum on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #6: Read my comment again; that’s not what I said.

  22. 22
    Steve Mannion on 30 Aug 2011 #

    One mark off for the “She’s lying” voice NOT actually being the bloke from PM Dawn (so 5).

  23. 23
    MarkG on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #22 reminds me, I heard the 12″ remix version, Sylvia MJ is mixed out, so for a long time it’s just JNail moaning “She’s Lying”….

    “She’s Lying”….

    “She’s Lying”….

  24. 24
    punctum on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #16: “Sesame’s Treet” is not “dire”; greatest TOTP performance ever (if only I could find it on YouTube).

  25. 25
    Tom on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Sesame’s Treet > Roobarb And Custard >>> A Trip To Trumpton – which ones am I missing? (“Charly” I suppose – hard to fairly assess that one tho in light of later activity)

    At the time we reckoned anyone using the Screen Test theme would have been quids in – absurdly dramatic.

  26. 26
    Rory on 30 Aug 2011 #

    I’m surprised that a Pet Shop Boys fan like you, Tom, hasn’t mentioned the glaring similarity of this track’s spoken passages to some of Neil Tennant’s.

    This UK number one marks the first of 1992 that I wasn’t around for – by July I was travelling in the states on my way home from my student year – so I was never immersed in it to the degree you all were, although it did hit number 5 in Australia that September. We knew Jimmy from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, but that had a low enough profile that the “celebrity” angle seemed secondary to whether or not it was any good.

    And to me, it is. Listening to it without the video, the mixture of elements works well – I’m tempted to go to 7, and wouldn’t go below a 6.

  27. 27
    chelovek na lune on 30 Aug 2011 #

    @25 for starters, a brace of Magic Roundabout spinoffs out simultaneously: “Summer’s Magic” by Mark Summers; and another (less commercially successful one) that I can’t remember the name of

  28. 28
    MarkG on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #24 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQtB2x3EDAw

  29. 29
    Steve Mannion on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #25 ‘A Trip To Trumpton’ better than those other two imo (not including ‘Charly’ which is another level up), partly because of how it develops into quite a different track on the side (which I think was actually the b-side ‘I Feel The Heat’ interlopin’).

  30. 30
    JLucas on 30 Aug 2011 #

    This is OK, quite funny. But Crocodile Shoes would be firmly within my top ten least favourite songs of all time.

    It seemed like it was in the charts forever, and it was irritating beyond belief.

  31. 31
    Steve Mannion on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #27 Just remembered the other one – ‘Magic Style’ by The Badman.

  32. 32
    weej on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Much better than I remembered it being, it just seems to work – though the showboating in the last minute is perhaps a bit much. Still pretty funny, but not in a way that detracts from the song itself. Glad this got to number one and not Crocodile Shoes.
    Item of note: prominent appearance of a Mercury phonebox in the video – one of those things that just seemed to disappear one day in the mid 90s.

    And finally, Charly >>>>>> Trip to Trumpton >>>>> Sesame’s Treet > Roobarb And Custard, surely?

  33. 33
    Wheedly on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Re 16, I had a few listens to Just Another Day, and you’re right – it is an odd structure. I think that we’ve become used to songs being structured around progressions of a small number of chords, repeating in defined, frequent cycles, whereas Just Another Day is more slippery. How much of it is design and how much is happy chance only the writer can answer, but it does some cool things where chords that end a short section of the verse sequence get unexpectedly held a long time, and then the vocal begins a new phrase over that same chord, subverting the expectation that he’ll go back and repeat the phrase we’ve just heard. It never feels like anything overtly odd is going on (we’re always in 4/4, we’re always in the home key), but it definitely rewards close listening.
    It gives the impression that the verses are being made up on the spot, that they’re a spontaneous outburst of emotion, which is really appropriate to the song’s mood and subject matter. Clever stuff. Maybe the vocal ideas came first and the harmonic structure was filled in underneath? Whatever, it’s good stuff.
    As for Jimmy Nail? Punctum’s defense of it upthread was great, but the act of listening to it remains an unpleasant one. A three, for the concept if not the execution.

  34. 34
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Surely another source of this specific sound (and concept) is the groove Chaz Jankel fashioned for the Blockheads: and with Dury (and Mike Skinner IMO) there’s the sheer incongruity of extremely non-American voice+accent versus translatlantic glide of sound… which not really so with Nail, who seems to downplay the Geordie when speaking and to banish it entirely when singing.

    On the strength of I’m not sure what, JN got a whole South Bank devoted to his renaissance-man panoply of talents.

  35. 35
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 30 Aug 2011 #

    oops sorry, the south bank was already mentioned and mocked

    odd claim in his wikipedia entry: “Jimmy Nail (born 16 March 1954) is an English singer-songwriter, actor and musician. He has starred in numerous roles on television since 1983. He is 97′ 3″ tall.”

  36. 36
    Steve Mannion on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Nail’s “Aw yeah” > the “aw yeah” sample fortunately by this point consigned to the dumper after severe over-use.

  37. 37
    wichita lineman on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Re 33: Thanks Wheedly. Chords subverting expectations, one of my favourite things in pop.

    Punctum, didn’t mean to state as fact that Sesame’s Treet was “dire”, of course, but at Kat and Pete B’s rave-pop night the other week it stood out as particularly weak. And it got played late in the proceedings – it’s direness cut through an alcoholic fug.

  38. 38
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Wikipedia is a bit scant and I’m not quite ready to buy and read his autobiography A Northern Soul, but between the lines there seems to be a bit of a melancholy story here: Oz in Auf Wiedersehn Pet was actually his first significant acting role, and it looks a little as if he’s spent all the time since — including really not very much activity at all, on screen, stage or record — trying to shake off the cartoonish Newcastle identity that saddled him with.

  39. 39
    thefatgit on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #38 The pitfalls of type-casting I s’pose. Jimmy Nail, Clive Owen, Jason Statham… probably none of these will play King Lear or Richard III at RSC.

  40. 40
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 30 Aug 2011 #

    GONERIL: Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
    Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
    No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
    As much as child e’er loved, or father found;
    A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

    LEAR: She’s lying!

    REGAN: Sir, I am made
    Of the self-same metal that my sister is,
    And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
    I find she names my very deed of love;
    Only she comes too short: that I profess
    Myself an enemy to all other joys,
    Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
    And find I am alone felicitate
    In your dear highness’ love.

    LEAR: She’s lying!

  41. 41
    punctum on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #33: Perhaps they played it at really low volume.

  42. 42
    AndyPandy on 30 Aug 2011 #

    25: there was one (around the ‘Charly’ time) which sampled a children’s nature programme from early/mid 70s the name of which has slipped my mind but everyone remembered it – and that tune unlike most of the rest was thought happening enough to get in the Steve Jackson evening show’s rave chart on Kiss FM at the time, then there were not very good minor pop crossover hits for heavily sampled themes from ‘Rainbow’ (always used to play that one in my local nightclub for some reason), ‘Banana Splits’,obviously loads of ‘Dr Who’ (theme and dalek sounds), a few ‘Star Treks’, ‘Blockbusters’ (‘Ivory’ by Skin Up)Mr Men’, ‘Black Beauty’,’Six Million Dollar Man’ (the ‘Mr Men’ and ‘Black Beauty’ records actually being worth good money now on the old skool hardcore scene!), seem to recall there was some ‘Captain Scarlet’s, ‘Joe 90’s and a ‘Pink Panther’ too…I should imagine there’s a few more to add to those too

    At the time wanted to do a ‘White Horses’ one think it could have been massive and think a ‘Tomorrow People’ one would have worked too

    25 Urban Hype put out some very good tracks (‘Teknologi’ ‘The Feeling’ etc) which are now quite sought after but I think they were compromised as an act not worth bothering with by many on the scene because of ‘Trumpton’. It might have been worth their while sticking out the other stuff under a different name.

  43. 43
    chelovek na lune on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Ah, not a sample, but a recreation of a (East German) kiddies’ programme theme, with new words in English, but “The Singing Ringing Tree” by the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus from 1989 (I do have a bit of a thing for neo-folk I must admit) knocks all these wanna-be ravers sampling 70s programmes into a cocked hat. Although it’s not really a fair comparison – entirely different genres and purposes.. .

    That said, Steve Jackson’s programme (for all the immense amateurishness of its presentation) on Kiss FM introduced me to a lot of good stuff. Mr Kirk, do come down to the station house.

    Amazing to think (after all that happened since) what genuinely innovative, diverse, and worthwhile, ear-opening broadcasting Kiss put out in its first few years as a legal station. And how rapidly – and to what depths – it degenerated subsequently.

  44. 44
    thefatgit on 30 Aug 2011 #

    ^^ I agree. I used to tune into Kiss regularly, not only Steve Jackson, but also Colin Faver for the industrial stuff. Another source was Green Apple (a pirate based in West London), with a fledgling Ras Kwame spinning an eclectic mix of Hardcore and proto-Jungle.

  45. 45
    AndyPandy on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Kiss in the early days literally felt like a “legalised pirate” what with loads of hardcore/rave along with the soul and hiphop throughout the day, proper old skool soul, hiphop and jazz shows, Colins Dale and Faver. Even Judge Jules seemed good in those days.

    To think that as recently as about 1995 every weekday afternoon Pete Wardman would include a 20 minute ‘hardbag’ mix(basically what was becoming hardhouse and what he was playing at ‘Trade’ at the time)and no-one would bat an eyelid.

    I remember the first time Steve Jackson played ‘Mr Kirk’ (autumn 1990) and how it seemed like the total sound of tomorrow – like nothing else we’d ever heard before and how people kept talking for days about this mad tune he’d played – I don’t remember any other tune in all my years on the dance scene getting such a response with my crowd after one play. A sort of aural equivalent (amongst us anyway) to the response from the general public when Boy George first appeared on TOTP!

    Respect to Green Apple it always felt like it was my LOCAL pirate with it being out West rather than from North or South London.

  46. 46
    anto on 30 Aug 2011 #

    By the time he was in Spender Jimmy Nail was one of the easiest people on tv to imitate – simply standing looking out a window unsmiling and remarking ” ah can remem-bah when there were boots on da tyne ” to whoever was in earshot. Ain’t No Doubt is a real actors record in that a lot of it is a monologue. Musically it’s very 1992 and certainly has enough hooks to deserve a number 1. It’s palatable rather than especially great.

  47. 47
    Mark M on 30 Aug 2011 #

    Re 40: Genius!

    I quite like this – as the Lineman and others have said, the chorus is pretty horrible, but I like the verses. And as someone who is very fond of the first two Streets albums, there is a fair comparison in the willingness to engage constructively with cliche.

    It’s certainly a better mix of conversational vocals and soul-inflected singing than this .

  48. 48
    Kat but logged out innit on 30 Aug 2011 #

    #37 We only played Sesame’s Treet because the large group of randoms dancing requested it. I never liked it much, whereas Trip To Bleddy Trumpton was Actually Banging.

  49. 49
    George on 30 Aug 2011 #

    This has aged a damn sight better than Spender for sure.

  50. 50
    hardtogethits on 31 Aug 2011 #

    All interesting stuff about Ain’t No Doubt. I think punctum’s review makes all the key points, and I’m slightly concerned that having never previously heard it as a US army jogging chant, I’ll never again hear it as anything else. Also, my eyebrows raised at the thought that this appears to be – to a greater or lesser extent – something that many others had noticed. Silly me.

    Clearly, this is atypical of Jimmy Nail’s work. If his other records are poor, I’d agree it’s firstly because he takes himself (too) seriously (when his popularity emerged from humour); secondly, because he does so partiuclarly as a singer, and thirdly because his desire to take himself seriously as a singer has been indulged by others. As an actor, he got to sing in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, and someone (not necessarily Clement or La Frenais but it seems likely) must’ve seen this as a talent worth showcasing, perhaps even developing. Even the script lauded him (“How can someone so ugly make a nice noise like that?” “He must be miming?” “That lad’s wasted laying bricks!”). It was difficult to suspend disbelief and think that the characters were commenting on Oz the bricklayer for what may, in the plot, have been a surprisingly composed performance from their building-site mate – it seemed like they were being fed lines to promote Jimmy Nail, the actor, and his ability to sing. This indulgence begat Crocodile Shoes.

    Yet here, it’s really not the surprise-an-actor-can-sing that makes the record such a quirk. There’s a bit of singing in there, but it’s the gentle comedy and exquisite timing and delivery that separates this record from so many others. It sounds like the lyric could have been written by Clement and La Frenais, even down to the external reference to a song by another writer from Newcastle.

    Sorry (about all the brackets).

  51. 51
    swanstep on 31 Aug 2011 #

    The (rather good) backing track here is making my spidey-sense tingle. What is it reminding me of (perhaps esp. the on-the-beat high bowing string part)? The only things I’ve been able to think of are Simply Red’s Money’s too tight to mention and single-mixes of Madonna’s Keep it Together, e.g., here, but is there anything else?

    Oh and thanks to Marcello and others for talking up Avenue. I had St.E’s So Tough album on tape long ago but lost it and had quite forgotten about this track. It’s truly fab.

  52. 52
    Tim Byron on 31 Aug 2011 #

    I don’t have any conscious recollection of ‘Ain’t No Doubt’, watching it on YouTube, but it did somehow get to #5 here in Australia – his only hit here. My first thought hearing his voice in the verse was ‘West End Girls’. For some reason it evokes being on a international plane in 1991/1992 and listening to the inflight R&B channel over those headphones they give you with the funny prongs at the end. For me at the time, that R&B channel (full of songs that probably never made it to Australia) seemed like incredibly sophisticated music, the kind of thing that adults living in the city must be listening to!

    swanstep – as I was listening to the track on YouTube, I noticed Maxi Priest’s ‘Close To You’ in the suggestions box, and I’m not sure which came first, but perhaps that’s the one you’re thinking of? Same funk beat, same on-the-beat bowing, same tempo, same spoken word-ish intro…

  53. 53
    MarkG on 31 Aug 2011 #

    #50, what you say has the ring of truth (this episode came after “Love don’t live here” but before “Ain’t no doubt”), but then again it’s not so unusual for a bunch of brickies to find out that one of their number has an ‘uncommonly lovely’ singing voice. Of course, they’d all be saying “you shoud be on X-Factor mate” afterwards…

  54. 54
    glue_factory on 31 Aug 2011 #

    Re: 42 would that be K-Klass’ Wildlife, which sampled the theme from Wildtrack (which also, incongruously for any child of the 70s, turns up in the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy) ?

  55. 55
    AndyPandy on 31 Aug 2011 #

    54: yes it was ‘Wildtrack’ and I’ve just checked the date and that would have been the tune – TBH I’d completely forgotten (never knew?) K Klass (North Wales’s only ever rave act?)had done anything before ‘Rhythm Is Mystery’.

  56. 56
    Jimmy the Swede on 31 Aug 2011 #

    #40 – The trouble is, Mark, Leah didn’t realise that they were both lying until it was far too bloody late. This boy’s a fool.

  57. 57
    Ed on 1 Sep 2011 #

    @44 and 45 In the summer of 1992, already a bit old for clubbing, I moved into a flat on the Goldhawk Road, and spinning the dial on the radio (in memory it was down the bottom end: near Radio 2?), I came across my first blast of hardcore. It was one of those literally jaw-dropping moments; I stood staring at the radio thinking “what the hell is this?” Sounds like it might have been Green Apple.

    Why the name? From Shepherd’s Bush Green? Living there always made me think of the famous bad advice for tourists: “Londoners’ favourite picnic spot is the leafy and charming Shepherd’s Bush Green”.

    On ‘Ain’t No Doubt’, lonepilgrim @1 Nails it. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course, for either Mike or Jimmy. The scenes from the break-up, with the bleak reported dialogue, point straight towards ‘Dry Your Eyes’.

    Skinner does pull it off with a shade more emotional and musical sophistication, I guess I would admit.

  58. 58
    enitharmon on 2 Sep 2011 #

    Number one at the time of the Great Open University Summer School Murder, an event whose profound long-term effects still afflict me.

    It was on the campus at York University on Saturday, 25 July. Wentworth College, to be precise. I was doing my A319 Literature in the Modern World module and had arrived early to check in, then went to my room and took a nap without locking my door. Later that evening we were all sitting in the bar when all those ion Wentworth were summoned to the hall. A Chief Inspector looking not unlike John Thaw was there to tell us (in the usual roundabout way) that a tutor had been found dead in her unlocked room (Wentworth A248 for the record) and we were all to be evacuated to another college while investigations proceeded. Only those with essential medications to collect were allowed to collect stuff from rooms under close escort. I was lucky, I pleaded that my contact lens solutions were essential medication and got away with it. Over the next couple of days we were all questioned one by one, and then we were offered post-trauma counselling followed by the right to go home with the full summer school credit. Nobody took up the offer, we all felt that clinging together was the best way to survive. Afterwards I don’t think I was the only one to suffer a collapse once I was home again a week later.

    The A319 tutor, Elizabeth Howe, had been the victim of a frenzied knife attack by a Technology Foundation Course student called Robin Pask. He was caught in the small hours of Sunday morning, wandering around the campus wearing Dr Howe’s swimming costume and covered in mud.

    The rest of the week was surreal. The most chilling part was the scheduled performance by a touring theatre group of a show about Brecht; when the the trench-coated actor came on at the start singing Die Moritat von Mackie Messer the chill in the stalls was palpable. All week the campus lake was being dredged for a weapon. The end-of-week entertainment was, not surprisingly, cancelled but a spate of macabre, course-related messages began appearing on the course bulletin board. “TED, YOUR DINNER IS IN THE OVEN. SYLVIA”.

    The case merited a couple of column inches in the press. A few weeks earlier one Rachel Nickell has been victim of a similar frenzied attack on Wimbledon Common, but clearly some murders (eg of a glamorous model) are more heinous than others (eg of a thirty-something academic). Mr Pask went for trial a year later but was found unfit to plead; another year later he was quietly sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure (I’m sure Brenda enjoys his company). I was on the Senate sub-committee that expelled him from the University but in the circumstances was excused.

    I still shiver at the thought of this man running through the cporridors of Wentworth College looking for an unlocked door with somebody to kill behind it. It could have been me…

    Not surprisingly I have no recollection of Jimmy Nail’s oevre.

  59. 59
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Sep 2011 #

    Christ, Rosie, how horrible. It’s clear that Pask did not target Dr Howe specifically but was just a fruit-loop out to stick it to anyone. This does indeed read like a “Morse” episode except that Colin Dexter’s muderer is infrequently a random nutter but is instead either an academic or some glamorous mature piece of skirt Morse has been trying to poke. If you would forgive the levity, I can well imagine you yourself being interviewed by Sergeant Lewis in your room on campus, whilst Morse confines himself to trawling York’s many pubs looking for clues. As you say, it’s very odd that this horrendous episode seemed to pass unnoticed.

  60. 60
    enitharmon on 5 Sep 2011 #

    I seem to have a real talent for killing a thread dead, don’t I?

  61. 61
    wichita lineman on 5 Sep 2011 #

    For what it’s worth, I remember it being a news story.

    But it also goes without saying that the media’s interest will always be more piqued if a story involves a pretty blonde, whether a mother, a student or a child (of either sex). Or also if a suspect looks like a stereotypical weirdo (there seem to be no pictures of Pask in existence).

    Anyhoo. Jimmy Nail. Would’ve made a good (if less enigmatic) George ‘Geordie’ Peacock in Our Friends In The North, wouldn’t he?

  62. 62
    hectorthebat on 6 Sep 2011 #

    I was at York University, 10 years (exactly) after the murder, living in the same building, (now part of Goodricke College). By now of course, the case has become a rumour and ghost story told to freshers, and we obviously made sure to relate it to the girl living in the room at the time. By now, the building has finally been knocked down (I think) and renovated, but the campus style of the university and ‘away from it all’-ness of being at least half an hour from York itself meant that it did all have a Midsomer feel to it.

  63. 63
    AndyPandy on 6 Sep 2011 #

    I was at York from 2003-2005 and until I read this I didn’t even know this terible thing had happened although I was commuting in from Leeds as a mature student and therefore not really in the loop.

    I think part of the reason (beside the fact that she was a blonde model)that so much was made of the Wimbledon murder was that her son was left clinging to her lifeless body.

  64. 64
    enitharmon on 6 Sep 2011 #

    hectorthebat @ 62

    Yes, it occurred to many of us even at the time (and we were studying Literature in the Modern World after all) that this was probably the nearest thing ever in Real Life to an Agatha Christie country house murder.

    York may have been some way off but there was an agreeable pub in Heslington if I recall correctly.

  65. 65
    AndyPandy on 6 Sep 2011 #

    And an old fashioned post office and a village shop – and for some reason although only a few hundred yards from the campus the village didn’t get swamped with students – probably because it was in the ‘wrong’ (non-York direction) – and inhabited by lots of Tory people in their late 50s and older – yes Heslington was a bit St Mary Mead like.

  66. 66
    Martin F. on 6 Sep 2011 #

    Rather brilliantly, the only version of “Ain’t No Doubt” on Spotify is from a compilation entitled “18 Sunny Songs For The Family Summer Holiday”.

  67. 67
    Mark M on 7 Sep 2011 #

    Re 61: considering the political nature of the project, it’s interesting how few of the Our Friends In The North cast members were actually from the North East (something that might have been less obvious at the time because the leads weren’t big names when the programme came out).

  68. 68
    Ed on 8 Sep 2011 #

    @67 Whoa: they weren’t? Ever since I saw it, I have thought of Christopher Eccleston, Gina McKee, Daniel Craig and, er, the other one (Mark Strong, says Google) as Geordies. (Especially Craig, obv.)

    I suppose I should possibly have guessed that they were acting. Apparently Craig isn’t really a secret agent, either, and Ecclestone’s sonic screwdriver can’t open locked doors.

    As Mark M says, that partly reflects the cleverness of the casting of a group of relative unknowns (or at least, not big stars), but I am sure it is also a testament to the brilliance of the performances and the writing. I think it is the best thing I have seen on TV in my adult lifetime.

  69. 69
    Ed on 8 Sep 2011 #

    @68 “Adult” qualifier there to exclude a few things from my childhood / adolescence, including imperial phase Potter, and the absolute best thing I have ever seen on TV: Keith Allen doing the 1983 election live on C4.

  70. 70
    thefatgit on 8 Sep 2011 #

    Eccleston came in kind of all at once. Not sure of the chronology; OFITN, Cracker, Shallow Grave I think are pretty much around the same time. By the time we get to Gone In 60 Seconds and Dr Who, he’s pretty well established.

  71. 71
    Rory on 8 Sep 2011 #

    Was he the one in ‘Let Him Have It’? (Googles… yes, he was. 1991.) The movie I remember him most for is ‘Revengers Tragedy’ – when I heard he got the role of the Doctor, that was the one that suggested to me that he was a really interesting choice.

  72. 72
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 8 Sep 2011 #

    cracker is i think when he leapt ahead (1993): very likeable character very shockingly murdered

    shallow grave is 1994, as is OFITN

    haha he is of course in casualty and poirot and morse in like 1990

  73. 73
    Erithian on 8 Sep 2011 #

    There are some expert Whovians among the FT crew, so I’d like to know what they make of Eccleston as the Doctor – in particular what about the circumstances in which he left the show? I was pretty disappointed when the bloke who came along proudly saying that “every planet has a North” and why should the Doctor have an RP accent, left after one series apparently not wishing to be typecast, thus appearing to risk torpedo-ing the revival of the programme. After all, he’d had a wide-ranging CV before Doctor Who so typecasting didn’t appear to be a danger, and in retrospect playing the Doctor didn’t stop his successor moving on to roles from Manchester United assistant manager to Prince of Denmark.

    Yet it appears (admittedly only from Wiki) that the story was more complex than that – that the ”typecasting” quote was inaccurate, he left the show because he didn’t like the atmosphere, and RTD said he only had a one-series contract anyway because the revival wasn’t a guaranteed success. Where do others stand on this?

  74. 74
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 8 Sep 2011 #

    my view: he was a great face and name for the reboot, though ALWAYS played the role a bit broad and panto, which is not really a mode he is comfy with — i think his own shtick alienated him a bit, and this showed

  75. 75
    Steve Mannion on 8 Sep 2011 #

    I wondered if upon realising the show was a big enough success, there was a decision to sex it up to increase its popularity further. RTD may have been keen to put Eccleston into more romantic situations (with companion and/or others) but I suspect he and others thought a more conventional heart-throbber would suit that expanded role better hence switching for Tennant (Eccleston may have sensed a perceived limitation in his Doctor here and decided to quit rather than risk tension or a backlash and yes it is hard to imagine them going with him where they went with Tennant’s Doctor – not necessarily for the better).

    Had Who continued into the 90s I am QUITE SURE that Nail would’ve usurped McGann as prime candidate to replace McCoy.

  76. 76
    lonepilgrim on 8 Sep 2011 #

    Nail looks out Tardis window unsmiling and remarking ”ah can remem-bah when there were tay-am loords on Galifray”

  77. 77
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Sep 2011 #

    It would have been pretty alarming to have seen Sylvester McCoy regenerate into Jimmy Nail, I think. And then:

    ACE: “Run, Professor. Daleks!!

    DALEKS (arriving): “Exterminate!..Obey!.. etc”

    DOCTOR: “Ahrm noot legging it from them tinny boogers, canny lass!”

  78. 78
    MarkG on 9 Sep 2011 #

    The correct line here would be “Ah, haddaway and shite, man!”

  79. 79
    Garry on 12 Sep 2011 #

    Eccleston was better than Tennent for me, both were good but the RTD era had plenty of problems in regard to the writing. Someone once wrote a great piece saying Tennent was a middle-class white guy going around patronising the human race. “You humans are WONDERFUL…” I always found it had to disagree. I’m actually not surpriced Eccleston left.

    In terms of Jimmy Nail – I love this song. Always have. Like Tom I find it funny: for me it’s all posturing faux drama, while most of pop lacks such tongue in cheekness. Nail probably intended a lack of tongue in cheek as well, but the mere fact it is storytelling and not confessional gives it an enjoyable panto quality.

    Question is will this be the last #1 I enjoyed? At the time pop me was going down hill sharply…

  80. 80
    Kit on 13 Sep 2011 #

    “left after one series apparently not wishing to be typecast,”

    he actually gave notice after or during the filming of the first episode, due to the aggressive incompetence of the director, and apparently a lack of support from the producers.

    (apparently about a third of that first episode was reshot, piecemeal, later in the production run, by other directors. although the nominal director never worked on Who again after the first year, Eccleston’s antipathy toward the entire enterprise remains, as he refuses to do any appearances or commentaries or whatnot, and has said he’d not return for anniversary episodes.)

  81. 81
    Kit on 13 Sep 2011 #

    In an initial statement announcing his exit in March 2005, the BBC said the actor was afraid of being typecast and had found the series gruelling.

    The corporation later accepted the statement was incorrect and that it had not spoken to Eccleston before releasing it.

  82. 82
    Kit on 13 Sep 2011 #

    oh and “nominal director never worked on Who again after the first year” – he was actually fired halfway through.

  83. 83
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 13 Sep 2011 #

    i: the BBC’s ppl say “Ecc left ftb type-casting”
    ii: Ec’s ppl say “Nonsense it was the aggressive incompetence of a since-fired director who will NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN”
    iii: sense of fairness dictates we now hear from since-fired’s ppl!

    I always assumed that CE had a steamy affair with Billy that turned horribly sour OR wanted same but was firmly rebuffed. But that’s how my sleazy mind rolls.

  84. 84
    enitharmon on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Speaking for myself, given a free choice between Chrises Evans and Eccleston, there’s not a contest; it’s Eccleston every time. There’s nowt so queer as folk.

  85. 85
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Well, yes, but one of the main reasons for her and Evans separating was age difference, and Ecclestone is [s]900 years[/s] two years older than Evans.

    On the other hand, there was a TARDIS handy.

  86. 86
    enitharmon on 13 Sep 2011 #

    You mean that trumped Evans being a complete and utter bone-headed prat?

  87. 87
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Actually one of the very very VERY few things that allow me to warm to Evans at all is that he and Billie P remain very obviously publicly fond of one another.

    (Nail: SHE’S LYING!)

  88. 88
    Erithian on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I wouldn’t normally leap to Evans’ defence, but Billie did say he got her through a tough period in her life and speaks glowingly of him as a friend, so fair play to him. I find him much less irritating these days too.

  89. 89
    thefatgit on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Not bad after a marriage that lasted slightly longer than their infamous pub-crawl honeymoon.

  90. 90

    Exactly: pretty much everything about the marriage screamed HORRIBLE SLEB ALLIANCE, tears and hateful recrimination at 11, and the way things actually turned out speaks unexpectedly well of both of them.

  91. 91
    MarkG on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I read part2 of his autobio (yeah yeah sosueme..), and for all the almost kiss&tell business, he does discuss his dalliances with Geri and others without going into massive and unnecessary detail, save to state they were all for real, and not this “let’s be a celebrity couple’ that gets all the magazines atizzy but happens far fewer times in real life..

    Mind you, he does go on a whole lot about every damn car he ever bought for loadsamoney at auction!

  92. 92
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Like Erithian, I too find Evans far less annoying the noo but he still suffers from simply refusing to understand that he is not broadcasting to teenagers or simple-minded adults. This might be allowed to pass on his breakfast show, to be fair, but when he did the drivetime slot it was pulpably ridiculous.

  93. 93
    Kit on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Ec’s ppl say

    Ec’s consistently declined to say anything at all, t continue bf

  94. 94
    Pete on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I am looking forward to this discussion being raised the next time Tom is invited on to Evans radio show to discuss Popular. (Was that really three years ago now?)

    “So Tom, let’s wrap up with asking what your favourite number one is, and also have the comments crew decided who is better yet, me or Christopher Ecclestone?”

  95. 95
    Tim Byron on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Eccleston recently talked at an actor’s workshop about why he left: http://badwilf.co.uk/?p=820

    “I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up, around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.

    “I thought to remain, which would have made me a lot of money and given me huge visibility, the price I would have had to pay was to eat a lot of shit. I’m not being funny about that. I didn’t want to do that and it comes to the art of it, in a way. I feel that if you run your career and– we are vulnerable as actors and we are constantly humiliating ourselves auditioning. But if you allow that to go on, on a grand scale you will lose whatever it is about you and it will be present in your work.

    “If you allow your desire to be successful and visible and financially secure – if you allow that to make you throw shades on your parents, on your upbringing, then you’re knackered. You’ve got to keep something back, for yourself, because it’ll be present in your work. A purity or an idealism is essential or you’ll become– you’ve got to have standards, no matter how hard work that is. So it makes it a hard road, really.

    “You know, it’s easy to find a job when you’ve got no morals, you’ve got nothing to be compromised, you can go, ‘Yeah, yeah. That doesn’t matter. That director can bully that prop man and I won’t say anything about it’. But then when that director comes to you and says ‘I think you should play it like this’ you’ve surely got to go ‘How can I respect you, when you behave like that?’

    “So, that’s why I left. My face didn’t fit and I’m sure they were glad to see the back of me. The important thing is that I succeeded. It was a great part. I loved playing him. I loved connecting with that audience. Because I’ve always acted for adults and then suddenly you’re acting for children, who are far more tasteful; they will not be bullshitted. It’s either good, or it’s bad. They don’t schmooze at after-show parties, with cocktails.”

  96. 96
    MarkG on 15 Sep 2011 #

    I do get the impression that Matt Smith and Karen Gillan get worked like dogs while they are working on Dr Who. Filming, promo, ‘being seen’ etc.

  97. 97
    Erithian on 15 Sep 2011 #

    – and when they’re not filming they’re being jolly for the Doctor Who Confidential camera crew. Is the jollity forced? Answers on a postcard…

    There were parts of that Eccleston quote where I’d like to see subtitles à la “Annie Hall” to indicate what he’s really thinking. The discussion thread on “Bad Wilf” is fascinating though – thanks for the link Tim.

  98. 98
    Cumbrian on 30 Nov 2011 #

    I have just had an epiphany looking at the single cover for this. Is it meant to be an homage to Bryan Ferry? Ferry’s then current greatest hits (got large play from my Dad in my house) has a very similar photo and graphic layout on the front cover. Plus Ferry is a Geordie, etc.


  99. 99
    DanH on 31 Jan 2013 #

    I’m surprised this never made waves here in America. It sounds so 1992.

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