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Alternative & Indie - Released December 21, 2020 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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Originally released as part of the comprehensive 2018 box set Loving the Alien, Serious Moonlight (Live '83) is an audio release of the 1984 home video release Serious Moonlight, which itself aired earlier on the cable network HBO. In any incarnation, Serious Moonlight captures Bowie at the peak of his coolly calculated superstardom, streamlining his eccentricities so they are slick yet still a bit strange. It ain't rock & roll, it's entertainment, but that's also the charm of the record: it's big and glitzy, with Bowie acting justifiably proud of his grandiose moves but also performing with a sly, knowing wink. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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Originally released as part of the comprehensive 2018 box set Loving the Alien, Serious Moonlight (Live '83) is an audio release of the 1984 home video release Serious Moonlight, which itself aired earlier on the cable network HBO. In any incarnation, Serious Moonlight captures Bowie at the peak of his coolly calculated superstardom, streamlining his eccentricities so they are slick yet still a bit strange. It ain't rock & roll, it's entertainment, but that's also the charm of the record: it's big and glitzy, with Bowie acting justifiably proud of his grandiose moves but also performing with a sly, knowing wink. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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David Bowie's Glass Spider tour in 1987 rates among the most divisive outings of his entire career, on the one hand standing as a return to the vast theatrical ventures that characterized his early- to mid-'70s concerts, but on the other symbolizing the absolute waste of resources and talent that many critics considered his 1980s output to be. Certainly there was little in the reception to that year's Never Let Me Down album to suggest that his public was even remotely interested in a Broadway-style extravaganza built around the LP's songs, with Bowie's own apparent reluctance to revisit the icons of his most sacred past serving as a deterrent to even the most indulgent fans. Of the 20 songs featured on the Glass Spider live DVD, themselves a very representative sampling of his entire period repertoire, no less than ten were drawn from his last three albums -- that is, Let's Dance, Tonight, and Never Let Me Down itself. The crucial Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane sequence, on the other hand, served up just two, "Jean Genie" and, peculiarly, "Time." Add to that crime the sheer magnitude of a stage set that saw Bowie himself positively dwarfed behind grandstanding dancers, overactive musicians, and a monstrous fiberglass spider, and it is not difficult to comprehend why the man's supporters still smirk and look self-consciously away whenever the affair is mentioned. All of which means you have no way of anticipating the sheer brilliance of this DVD. The lack of extras is disappointing -- a few pages of biographical text are the only tangible "bonus." But the feature itself is spellbinding. Filmed in Sydney during the Australian leg of the tour, it captures the band from a vantage point that most fans simply never got to experience -- perfect sound, spot-on choreography, and excellent viewing angles. The narration that linked many of the songs, and was either lost or intelligible at the actual shows, is as clear as Bowie himself intended it to be, and the tight shots of the individual musicians and dancers ensures that not a moment of the action is conducted out of sight. The ensemble introduction to "Fashion" is exhilarating (if a shade preposterous), while the opening of the show itself, with guitarist Carlos Alomar very visually defying the bellowed shrieks of an invisible Bowie, has a wild charm that suggests, if he ever gets bored with guitar-picking, he's got a solid future in silent movies. The spider itself is mesmerizing, the most unexpectedly compulsive on-stage prop in modern rock since the Rolling Stones took an outsized phallus on the road with them. The musical performances, too, are a lot more powerful than reputation insists -- without exception, the live rearrangements are stunning, with a handful of songs (an unexpected "Sons of the Silent Age," a violent "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and a heartfelt "Absolute Beginners") actually competing with their studio incarnations in terms of dynamic and drive. Indeed, the deeper one delves into the performance, the stronger the conviction that, if Bowie had released Glass Spider on CD, instead of hiding it away on VHS alone, history might well have rehabilitated the album around the same time as it began to forgive him the rest of his 1980s sins. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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David Bowie's Glass Spider tour in 1987 rates among the most divisive outings of his entire career, on the one hand standing as a return to the vast theatrical ventures that characterized his early- to mid-'70s concerts, but on the other symbolizing the absolute waste of resources and talent that many critics considered his 1980s output to be. Certainly there was little in the reception to that year's Never Let Me Down album to suggest that his public was even remotely interested in a Broadway-style extravaganza built around the LP's songs, with Bowie's own apparent reluctance to revisit the icons of his most sacred past serving as a deterrent to even the most indulgent fans. Of the 20 songs featured on the Glass Spider live DVD, themselves a very representative sampling of his entire period repertoire, no less than ten were drawn from his last three albums -- that is, Let's Dance, Tonight, and Never Let Me Down itself. The crucial Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane sequence, on the other hand, served up just two, "Jean Genie" and, peculiarly, "Time." Add to that crime the sheer magnitude of a stage set that saw Bowie himself positively dwarfed behind grandstanding dancers, overactive musicians, and a monstrous fiberglass spider, and it is not difficult to comprehend why the man's supporters still smirk and look self-consciously away whenever the affair is mentioned. All of which means you have no way of anticipating the sheer brilliance of this DVD. The lack of extras is disappointing -- a few pages of biographical text are the only tangible "bonus." But the feature itself is spellbinding. Filmed in Sydney during the Australian leg of the tour, it captures the band from a vantage point that most fans simply never got to experience -- perfect sound, spot-on choreography, and excellent viewing angles. The narration that linked many of the songs, and was either lost or intelligible at the actual shows, is as clear as Bowie himself intended it to be, and the tight shots of the individual musicians and dancers ensures that not a moment of the action is conducted out of sight. The ensemble introduction to "Fashion" is exhilarating (if a shade preposterous), while the opening of the show itself, with guitarist Carlos Alomar very visually defying the bellowed shrieks of an invisible Bowie, has a wild charm that suggests, if he ever gets bored with guitar-picking, he's got a solid future in silent movies. The spider itself is mesmerizing, the most unexpectedly compulsive on-stage prop in modern rock since the Rolling Stones took an outsized phallus on the road with them. The musical performances, too, are a lot more powerful than reputation insists -- without exception, the live rearrangements are stunning, with a handful of songs (an unexpected "Sons of the Silent Age," a violent "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and a heartfelt "Absolute Beginners") actually competing with their studio incarnations in terms of dynamic and drive. Indeed, the deeper one delves into the performance, the stronger the conviction that, if Bowie had released Glass Spider on CD, instead of hiding it away on VHS alone, history might well have rehabilitated the album around the same time as it began to forgive him the rest of his 1980s sins. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

Originally released as part of the comprehensive 2018 box set Loving the Alien, Serious Moonlight (Live '83) is an audio release of the 1984 home video release Serious Moonlight, which itself aired earlier on the cable network HBO. In any incarnation, Serious Moonlight captures Bowie at the peak of his coolly calculated superstardom, streamlining his eccentricities so they are slick yet still a bit strange. It ain't rock & roll, it's entertainment, but that's also the charm of the record: it's big and glitzy, with Bowie acting justifiably proud of his grandiose moves but also performing with a sly, knowing wink. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 23, 2018 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released June 1, 2018 | Parlophone UK

With five decades behind them, there are certainly plenty of career overviews and compilations to be had for listeners looking to indulge in the choicest bits of the stalwart British progressive folk-rock band's career. The aptly named 50 for 50 sees Jethro Tull's longtime director of operations, Ian Anderson, deliver his picks, which range from instantly familiar classic rock radio staples "Aqualung" "Locomotive Breath," and "Cross-Eyed Mary" to later, more stylistically diverse offerings like "Steel Monkey" (from 1989's Grammy Award-winning Crest of a Knave) and the Middle Eastern-tinged "Rare and Precious Change" (from 1995's Roots to Branches). Anderson had 21 studio albums to pull from, and he manages to pay homage to every one of them -- the inclusion of two holiday offerings from the group's 2003 Christmas LP, their last official studio album, feels a bit extraneous. While 1971's triple-platinum-selling Aqualung yields the most fruit, Anderson bypasses some of the usual greatest-hits fodder in favor of a more comprehensive playlist that caters to the band's long and genre-juggling career, from the bluesy hard rock of "Beggar's Farm" and the bucolic English folk of "Salamander" to the garish synth rock of "Broadsword." For the average listener, any of the myriad single-disc excursions into the largely niche world of Jethro Tull should suffice, but for those looking to go a bit further down the rabbit hole, 50 for 50 offers up a lot more real estate to explore. [The three-disc set is also available as a condensed, 15-track collection titled 50th Anniversary Hits]. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2017 | Parlophone UK

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Paul Weller made a name for himself young (he was only 18 when he brought out the first Jam album, In The City, on 20 May 1977!), so his career and his discography have an unusual density. At 59, the indispensable Modfather is still going! Just as well. With A Kind Revolution, Weller offers a belligerence and a creativity that remain just as impressive even though, strictly speaking, he no longer has anything to prove. This thirteenth solo album from the man who was the brains behind the Jam and the Style Council is less experimental than its predecessor  Saturns Pattern, which sailed from Traffic to Love, via Captain Beefheart and Tame Impala... This time, Weller is getting back to rock'n'roll basics. The tone is set by Woo Sé Mama whose choirs boast two cult queens of the 60s and 70s: Madeline Bell and P.P Arnold ! Other guests come to pay homage: the great Robert Wyatt (She Moves With The Fayre), who has already worked with Weller in the past; but also, more surprisingly, Boy George, who comes in for a groovy, languorous duet (One Tear) and, on several tracks, the new guitarist from the Strypes, Josh McClorey. We can leave  Kind Revolution saying that, forty years after her career began, Paul Weller still knows how to do Paul Weller... © MZ/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2017 | Parlophone UK

There's gentleness at the heart of the title A Kind Revolution, a suggestion that Paul Weller is getting softer as he approaches the age of 60. In 2017, he's still a few years away from that milestone but he's letting himself take things a little slower, absorbing the spaciness of 2015's Saturn's Pattern and reviving the sculpted soulful grooves of Wild Wood. This combination means A Kind Revolution feels straighter than any record Weller has released in the past decade -- in other words, anything he's done since he started his collaboration with Simon Dine, who acrimoniously parted after 2012's Sonik Kicks -- but where As Is Now hit hard, this has an easy touch even when the events kick off with the raver "Woo Sé Mama." This isn't the only time guitars are cranked on A Kind Revolution -- "Satellite Kid" descends into an extended jam -- but soul is Weller's guiding star on this record, leading him to the well-manicured upscale Boy George duet "One Tear" and the sharp funk of "She Moves with the Fayre," which features a cameo from Robert Wyatt. These guest appearances, particularly Wyatt's, suggest how Weller isn't content to settle into a familiar groove -- the lovely vocal harmonies on the closing "The Impossible Idea" are further indication of that -- but A Kind Revolution nevertheless feels cozy, a record designed to provide nothing but comfort and that's an unusual twist for Paul Weller. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 23, 2016 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released September 19, 2014 | Parlophone UK

The Hollies made their recording debut in 1963, playing energetic but well-scrubbed versions of American R&B classics, but within a few years they would make an international impression with their glorious three-part harmonies, jangling guitars, and clever, catchy pop tunes. Once the Hollies hit their stride with "Look Through Any Window" and "Bus Stop" in 1966, they enjoyed a string of hits that lasted well into the '70s, and if their profile faded in the United States, they still had a loyal following in the United Kingdom, and continued performing and releasing new material well into the 21st century. 50 at Fifty is a career-spanning three-disc set that spans the entirety of the Hollies' career as the group celebrates its golden anniversary. Containing 50 tracks, the set opens with R&B chestnuts like "(Ain't That) Just Like Me" and "Searchin'," includes major hits like "Carrie Anne," "On a Carousel," and "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)," and concludes with rare live performances and a new song, "Skylarks," recorded specially for this set. While it contains most of the Hollies' best remembered songs, 50 at Fifty is not just another "greatest-hits" album, but a concise yet thorough overview of the band's long and remarkable journey. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Electronic - Released April 19, 2014 | Parlophone UK

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Electronic - Released April 19, 2014 | Parlophone UK

Although The Long Goodbye: Live at Madison Square Garden isn't LCD Soundsystem's only live recording, it is easily their most definitive. Recorded during their farewell show, the album captures the band's final performance in its entirety, leaving nothing out as James Murphy and company play their way to early retirement. The celebratory energy of the explosive opening track, "Dance Yrself Clean," makes it clear that this show is meant to be a party and not a wake, and to that end LCD Soundsystem spend the next three hours working their way through their incredible back catalog, delivering everything from their iconic first single, "Losing My Edge," to the sprawling "45:33." While no one likes to see a great band call it quits, fans couldn't ask for a better goodbye than one that gives them the chance to relive the band's final show whenever they want, making The Long Goodbye an essential buy for hardcore fans of the now-defunct dance-punk outfit. © Gregory Heaney /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 8, 2013 | Parlophone UK

Both more and less than what a partnership of Sumner and Marr would promise, Electronic's debut has weathered time much better than might have been thought upon its release, but ultimately only half works. When it does, though, it's fantastic, sometimes shifting from okay to fantastic within the same song. Opening number "Idiot Country" is a bit like that -- the beginning sounds a little too rushed, Marr's heavy wah-wah riff OK enough but Sumner's semi-rap/semi-sung vocals a bit ham-handed. By the time the full combination of gentle keyboards, crisp rhythms, and the gentle, reflective chorus comes to bear, though, everything feels just great. Perhaps understandably Electronic leans much more toward New Order than the Smiths -- Marr had already proven his desire to work in dance-crossover since his previous band's breakup, while Sumner's immediately recognizable, melancholic vocals call to mind New Order's rich history. With synth bass and Rolands standing in for Peter Hook's own unique way around the low end, though, Electronic stands out more on its own. Marr's guitar work throughout tends towards the subtle via soft, brisk strums or the occasional repeated key riff; as he's credited for keyboards as well, it's likely much of his work ended up creating the pleasant synth melodies. There's nothing bad per se on Electronic, merely mediocre or a touch forced time to time -- "Gangster," for instance, has a great, cinematic tension undercut by Sumner's attempt at social relevance. The three singles from the album remain the highlights: the delicate, acoustic guitar-led slow groove of "Get the Message," "Feel Every Beat" and its appropriately slamming rhythms, and, in America, the group's brilliant debut effort "Getting Away with It." Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, who memorably guested on that last number, brings bandmate Chris Lowe along to help on his excellent, sly duet with Sumner -- "Patience of a Saint," another standout. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

"She's So High" and "There's No Other Way" were auspicious debut singles, alternately trancy and melodic, suggesting how shoegazing and baggy beats could be incorporated into pop song structures. Both songs suggested that Blur was capable of a striking debut album, but Leisure wasn't it. Mired by directionless soundscapes and incomplete songwriting, Leisure was nevertheless full of promise. Whenever the group tread close to the warped psychedelia of Syd Barrett, their compositions sprang to life, and "Sing" was an eerie, entrancing minor-key drone reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs." Those moments, however, were few and far between on Leisure, since much of the record was devoted to either naïve pop like "Bang" or washes of feedback and effects. From Leisure, it appeared that Blur was only capable of a pair of fine singles, which is what made the complete reinvention of Modern Life Is Rubbish such a surprise. [For the American release of Leisure, SBK Records lopped off one of the album's best songs, "Sing," and shuffled the running order for no apparent reason other than having "She's So High" and "There's No Other Way" appear first.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

As Blur commenced recording on Think Tank, their seventh album, things got a little weird. Tensions between vocalist/songwriter Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon reached a boiling point following Albarn's success with his dance-oriented side project, Gorillaz, leading him to assert dominance over the band, all of which was at odds with a newly sober and somber Coxon, whose solo records were doggedly designed to appeal to small audiences. According to most press reports, the breaking point was Albarn bringing Fatboy Slim in for production work in Morocco (it's hard to write those words without believing them to be parody), leading toward Coxon's acrimonious departure and the turgid mess that is Think Tank. Given the Gorillaz and Fatboy Slim (who, after all the brouhaha, only produced two tracks) connections, it's easy to assume that Albarn is pushing Blur toward a heavy, heavy dance album, which isn't strictly true, partially because the band always have traded in alternative dance. Still, there's been a shift in approach. Where they used to use disco and house beats as a foundation (see "Girls and Boys" or "Entertain Me"), Blur now borrow modern dance's fondness, even reliance, on atmosphere over song and structure -- which is kind of ironic, of course, since the group have always excelled at song and structure in the past. In the post-Coxon era, all that's tossed aside as Albarn turns his attention to electronic art-rock as thin as a dime. Make no mistake, even if bassist Alex James and Dave Rowntree are along for the ride, this is the sound of Albarn run amuck, a (perhaps inevitable) development that even voracious Blur supporters secretly feared could ruin the band -- and it has. Why? Because Albarn's talents cry out for a collaborator. He has great ideas but he needs help not just in the execution, but sorting out what ideas are good. The problem is, he's charismatic enough to coast by on his book smarts and good looks, until somebody -- Coxon, Stephen Street, Dan the Automator -- calls him into check, and now that he's had enough success, he's convinced he can do it on his own. So, Think Tank is the Damon Show, and it reveals that the emperor has no clothes or sense. Apart from the fine, deliberate opening gambit of "Ambulance" and "Out of Time" -- the first a perfectly arranged, ominously lush mood piece; the other a hushed, melancholic elegy in the same vein as "To the End" and "Tender," though not as good as either -- Think Tank sounds for all the world exactly like Blur B-sides from Parklife to Blur, complete with the hiccupping analog synths and meandering instrumentals, but without the sense of songcraft and with less imaginative arrangements (remember, elastic codas with a noodling saxophone line do not equal experimental; it's lazy focus). Those songs that do sound more substantial than B-sides are severely hurt by Coxon's absence: Witness the pleasantly sweet "Good Song," built on a Pro-Tools acoustic guitar loop which drains the song of emotion, when Graham would have let the song breathe, or how the creepy crawl of "Battery in Your Leg" winds up eating its own tail through its hermetically sealed arrangement. These problems all derive from one simple thing -- since Albarn has nobody to challenge him, he's unwittingly pawning off an album of half-baked demos and unfinished B-sides. And this isn't the result of a musical departure, unless you count the departure of songwriting -- this is the sound of Blur without the hooks, smarts, tunes, or even the sense of adventure. Sure, it might be easier to accept if it was called a Damon Albarn solo album, but that's splitting hairs. A lousy album is a lousy album, no matter who gets credit. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

In 1997, after helping define ’90s Britpop, Blur unexpectedly embraced American indie rock. Led by guitarist Graham Coxon's love of artists like Dinosaur Jr. and Beck, the band took cues from the former's trembling lo-fi aesthetic on "You're So Great" (the rare track sung by Coxon) and the latter's early laconic weirdness on songs "Killer for Your Love" and "Country Sad Ballad Man." But even if you take the boys out of Brittania, you can't take the national influences out of the band. Opener "Beetlebum", a dreamy ode to drugs, comes on like a lost late-era Beatles track. "M.O.R." slips and slides with Pavement-style guitar but also lifts a chord progression right from Bowie’s "Boys Keep Swinging", while "Strange News From Another Star" is Sebadoh by way of Ziggy Stardust. But it's "Song 2" that steals the show; with its rip-roaring bass line, Damon Albarn’s deadpan-to-shout vocals, fuzzed-out guitars and compulsive "Whoo-hoo!" it’s an immediate classic. © Qobuz
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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Blur's penitence for Brit-pop continues with the aptly named 13, which deals with star-crossed situations like personal and professional breakups with Damon Albarn's longtime girlfriend, Justine Frischmann of Elastica, and the group's longtime producer, Stephen Street. Building on Blur's un-pop experiments, the group's ambitions to expand their musical and emotional horizons result in a half-baked baker's dozen of songs, featuring some of their most creative peaks and self-indulgent valleys. Albarn has been criticized for lacking depth in his songwriting, but his ballads remain some of Blur's best moments. When Albarn and crew risk some honesty, 13 shines: on "Tender," Albarn is battered and frail, urged by a lush gospel choir to "get through it." His confiding continues on "1992," which alludes to the beginning -- and ending -- of his relationship with Frischmann. On "No Distance Left to Run," one of 13's most moving moments, Albarn addresses post-breakup ambivalence, sighing, "I hope you're with someone who makes you feel safe while you sleep." While these songs reflect Albarn's romantic chaos, "Mellow Song," "Caramel," and "Trimm Trabb" express day-to-day desperation. Musically, the saddest songs on 13 are also the clearest, mixing electronic and acoustic elements in sleek but heartfelt harmony. However, "B.L.U.R.E.M.I." is a by-the-numbers rave-up, and the blustery "Swamp Song" and "Bugman" nick Blur's old punky glam pop style but sound misplaced here. "Trailerpark" veers in yet another direction, a too-trendy trip-hop rip-off that emphasizes the band's musical fog, proving that William Orbit's kitchen-sink production doesn't serve the songs' -- or the band's -- best interests. 13's strange, frustrating combination of expert musicianship and self-indulgence reveals the sound of a band trying to find itself. With some closer editing, this could have been the emotionally deep, sonically wide album Blur yearns to make. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 11, 2012 | Parlophone UK

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