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The Dave Clark Five

The Dave Clark Five. Beginning upper left hand corner, going clockwise: Mike Smith, Rick Huxley, Denis Payton, Lenny Davidson. That's Dave Clark in the center.

I’m a huge Dave Clark Five fan. I have every one of their records and bought all the unreleased stuff when it debuted on i-tunes. I saw them perform live back in 1966 with an entire theater full of screaming teen girls, the only “screaming show” I ever attended. If you’re not from my generation, you might not realize that the three biggest groups during the first British invasion of the 1960s were The Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and the Rolling Stones — in that order. The Dave Clark Five hold the record for the most appearances on the Ed Sullivan show with 18. More than The Beatles; more than the Stones.

As a drummer myself, Dave Clark was a real icon and inspiration of mine. I was really looking forward to seeing the two hour special on the DC5 last night on PBS.

Boy, was I disappointed.

The show was one big puff piece for Dave. I found it repetitive (why the same songs over and over?), padded (the band’s home movies seemed to go on forever) and embarrassing. It didn’t help that Dave has not aged well, or that his enthusiasm during the stories he told was barely above comatose (this guy had acting lessons?).

It was great to see bits of interviews with the band’s incredibly talented lead singer and keyboard player Mike Smith — but why none of the other guys, especially Lenny Davidson, who’s still alive and who sang lead on a couple of their hits? Was the band really all right with Dave dissolving them? So much went unsaid. There was no depth whatsoever to the examination of the group.

Guests Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Ian McKellen, and other prominent gay icons — as well as a Judy Garland shout-out — made it seem like Dave was finally going to come out, which could have been very interesting (I first heard the rumor — from female fans — at the concert I saw way back in 1966)…but no, it was not to be.

It was interesting to hear what sounded like a demo/jam version of the rockin’ “Got Love If You Want it” (not the blues standard). It hinted at perhaps lots more unreleased stuff. It was a real surprise to see and hear them do “Georgia on My Mind” for the Queen (Mike was decent — no Bill Medley or Stevie Winwood, though — but the back-up vocals by Dave and Lenny had me cringing).

No mention or footage of Phil Spector (who was prominently featured in a DC5 TV special) or Bobby Graham (the great session drummer who secretly played for the DC5 and a number of other British invasion bands on some of their records), but that’s not surprising if the show was all about polishing Dave’s image. All of those favors called in for appearances on the show, with McKellen’s and Laurence Olivier‘s comments revealing lots between the lines, made me feel sorry for the show’s “guests”. The Tom Hanks induction speech (when they were belatedly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), though, remains one of the best I’ve ever heard and vividly captured the excitement of hearing and seeing the band. I hope there are lots of extras on the DVD/Blu-Ray (including an uninterrupted version of Tom’s speech) — but I’m not counting on it. It should at least include all of their song videos (which I have on a Japanese laser disc); the band was perhaps the earliest rock video pioneer.

The DC5 have pretty much been forgotten. Dave made some brilliant business moves throughout the band’s career but also made a few key mistakes. His owning the band’s masters kept him financially independent and, except for Ray Charles, unique in the pop business world. But by not leasing the DC5’s music to various media and waiting much too long to release their music on CD (Dave was holding out for an unrealistic payday), the DC5 got no airplay on the oldies stations nor public reminders of their greatness via film soundtracks. They eventually released a double-CD greatest hits collection through Disney’s Hollywood Records but, by then (1993), the band had pretty much left the public’s consciousness. The rest of their LP and single recordings (they waxed 18 LPs from 1964-1970!) remain unreleased on CD to this day, except as gray area semi-legit/semi-bootlegs in Germany and the Czech Republic.

My wife is two years older than me. She missed the DC5 and a lot of the other British Invasion groups. This show did not make her a convert. At the end I felt kinda sorry I put her through all two hours. Her conclusion was, “Wow. Dave’s got quite the ego, hasn’t he?”

The show seemed like a pathetically desperate cry for attention and historical recognition. Sadly, I guess that the band’s true assessment will have to wait until after Dave passes. With three band members already gone, though, I’m afraid we’ll always be missing key parts of the DC5 puzzle — most of which are held (and, I’m guessing, will probably never be released) by Dave.

43 thoughts on “The Dave Clark Five

  1. I too really liked the Dave Clark Five…and some pieces more than some Beatles pieces. It was an interesting time with the British groups, and the heavy stuff as well. Sorry the show turned out to be such a disappointment for you. Nothing worse than being very expectant for something you really like, and have your visions of what it could have been dashed upon the rocks.

    Conversely, I have seen many of the DooWop and classic 50’s 60’s group revival shows on WQED and thoroughly enjoyed them.


  2. Dave is known for being pompous and having an enlarged sense of self-importance. Holding back the DC5 music for big paydays cost him financially and a well-deserved place in music history. I have the early LPs in my collection as well as several best-of collections. I always enjoy listening to them. However, I think their failure to progress musically is really what is responsible for their dropping out of public view. The Beatles and The Stones continued to grow and improve and to shape the world of rock music. The DC5 failed to do so. Sadly, they will be relegated to just a footnote of the British Invasion when that final “History of Rock Music” book is written.

  3. @Rick:
    It was painfully embarrassing. I think Dave and his group should be recognized for what they accomplished — but this wasn’t the way to do it. It made me feel bad for the band — but not Dave. It was transparently clear he knew exactly what he was doing. Unfortunately, he underestimated his audience, who saw right through it. Mike, Lenny, Rick and Denis are the ones for whom I feel sorry.

    The DC5 actually did progress musically, generally going from hard rocking beat pop (“Bits and Pieces” , “Anyway You Want It”) sprinkled with the occasional ballads (“Because”, “Come Home”) to soul (“You Got What It Takes”, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”), touching on a bit of drug-free psychedelia (“Inside and Out”, “Maze of Love”, then wallowing in pop schmaltz (“Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, “Red Balloon”)— it’s just that they never truly led the charge. Except for establishing an incredibly powerful (and very well-recorded) sound, for the most part the DC5 were followers, not leaders, when it came to music. Business-wise, though, Dave was way ahead of the pack. And, despite their descension into some pretty cringe-inducing pop, they still kept managing to knock a few rockers out of the park right up until the end. Give a listen to Dave Clark & Friends’ (the friends in question being Mike Smith and a batch of studio musicians) incredible version of Neil Young’s “Southern Man” — WOW!

  4. The worst part was Springsteen, Van Zant and Weinburg waxing lyrical about what a great drummer and song writer Clark was. Clark didn’t drum on the records and never wrote one word or note of any song the DC5 recorded. Yet his ego is so huge he left those comments in knowing them to be totally untrue.

  5. @Bjorn:
    I suspect as much but you might be being a bit too harsh on Dave. I know he could drum (I saw him perform live in person and on TV). I also know that Bobby Graham played for him on a number of recordings — but I doubt (and have no evidence) that it was all of them. Graham never claimed he played on ALL of the DC5’s records.

    As for songwriting, he usually shared credit with Mike Smith or Lenny Davidson. I don’t know if it was a forced false credit (like Elvis’ songwriting credits) or whether he actually contributed to the lyrics or melody (I’ve always been suspicious of those credits). It’s likely we’ll never know the truth, as his key collaborator, Mike Smith, has passed away and Dave seems to keep a tight grip on any DC5 PR. Dave did receive the sole credit for “Because”, a lovely tune and an early DC5 hit. Did he really write it? Did he force Mike to give up his half of the credit for some reason? Maybe Mike’s widow or Lenny Davidson knows — but they don’t seem to be talking.

    There are many valid reasons to laud Dave Clark; he broke a lot of ground both musically and business-wise. A solid, clear-eyed, non-biased look at Clark and his band’s career would have served them all much better than the embarrassingly shallow and obvious puff piece that ran on PBS.

  6. Checking the internet (not the most reliable source of information), I came across this posting from “Chuck” in Fort Worth, Texas:

    Clark wrote nothing but paychecks weekly to the members of his company – oops – band. He had a ghostwriter on board up through “Any Way You Want” It named Ron Ryan. Ron also wrote “Because”. In fact Clark didn’t play the drums on the hit records although he covered them well live; Bobby Graham played on the records through mid ’67. “Bits and Pieces” was conceived as a country tune by Ryan; Mike reworked it into the pop hit it became. Ryan also replaced the lyrics to the DC5 version of “Twist and Shout” (it exists – I’ve heard it) with “No Time To Lose” when Clark was upset the Tremeloes beat him to the punch with the release of the single. Graham played on both BTW.

  7. It appears that Bjorn and “Chuck” were completely (and depressingly) correct. For more detail on the subject, go to:

    It’s a much darker, nastier tale than I ever suspected. Dave Clark should be ashamed of himself.

    When I attended my 20th high school reunion, I noticed that the gorgeous cheerleaders who were nasty to me in school had that nastiness eventually rise to the surface physically. Twenty years after graduating from high school, they were all disgusting. The plain girls who were sweet to me…well, their inner beauty had finally surfaced. They were no longer plain; they had become beautiful. The football players who delighted in tormenting me had all turned into sloppy drunks — real pigs. I realized that their lives had peaked in high school. Lucky me; after getting out of that horrible high school my life just got better and better…and continues to do so to this day.

    Check out Dave Clark’s “Before & After” photos:

    It supports my 20th reunion observation.

  8. I was very disappointed too. Whoopie Goldberg? All it was was everybody talking about Glad All Over. I doubt any of those folks owned the LPs. HOWEVER, it was very refreshing to see them FINALLY play live. “In 19 days”…. until 38:00 into the show I never knew they could really play. They were presented totally different in the UK. Here it was 99.9% mimes. I think they even did some of their live shows miming….

  9. I heard the boys do Georgia and a totally fast liver version of YGWIT on some show in 67 and I think Mike tears up GA! He could out sing Steve Winwood any day of the week…his passion is amazing. Ever hear him on The Evita sountrack?? I saw him live twice in 03 with his Rock Engine and he was great plus took time for autographs and photos later…he was a great guy. The records were fine and fand sould care less about a studio musician or tow popping in from time to time.

  10. You write some rubbish you do, all of you!

  11. @Paul:
    Can you be more specific? I stand by my observations.

    I just got the Blu-ray of the DC5 TV special. Except for the full live performances of “Nineteen Days” and “Georgia On My Mind”, here’s not much more added that I don’t already have in my laser disc, DVD and video collection — but there is a wonderful Mike Smith story that wasn’t included in the show. The extra footage of Dave with Freddie Mercury reveals Dave at his warmest. They really seem like good, close friends. With two extra hours added to the Blu-ray/DVD, there’s still not one word from surviving DC5 member Lenny Davidson. I think that speaks volumes.

  12. William, I must ask you this . . . . I am also a fan of The DAVE CLARK FIVE . . . . . But I never read anything on the subject matter of – – – – are there any at all film footage with sound that were of LIVE SHOWS….?….I can NOT evver find anything at all…..!….This is UNREAL in that it makes ME think that the band only cut records BUT could NOT play in a live show….SO how did they do those tours…..?>….please – – please tell me what what YOU actually heard back then at the show that YOU were at…..I am 62 years young . . . . I remember them very well….I was there BUT never have seen a video taken from a film footage transfer that ACTUALLY show them sound and video of the show’s performance””’It ALWAYS sounds like the RECORDING that they are lip synced to – – Hollywood Joe

  13. I still have my first album, yes a record and it was the Dave Clark Five. Bought it for 69 cents. Loved them!!

  14. @Hollywood Joe:
    Not much. The recent DC5 doc has their live performance for the Queen (“Nineteen Days” and “Georgia On My Mind”). I’ve got an entire laser disc of DC5 TV performances. I checked recently; they’re all lip-synched. In the DC5 doc I believe there’s a song with live vocals from Mike. My ears picked up an alternate take of one song but I’ll have to watch it again to see if it was live or not.

    I saw them play live — but with all the screaming….

    They were probably a decent live band, as they had built quite a base, club and dance hall reputation prior to their recording. Whether or not the rest of the band was great, Mike Smith, without a doubt, was an amazingly versatile singer and a terrific writer and keyboard player.

    The first LP I ever bought with my own money was The Dave Clark Five Return. And, yes, I’ve still got it.

  15. The PBS station in the Seattle-Tacoma area chose not to air the DC5 “documentary” in April when it was first shown nationally. Today, July 26, was the first showing in a prime time spot and what a huge disappointment! Dave Clark may not be evil but he certainly qualifies as a deceitful rogue. It was comical to see Gene Simmons interviewed in all his Kiss regalia, as if no one would recognize him unless he was costumed-up. I’m hoping one day a real documentary will be made about the Dave Clark Five. It will not be pretty.

  16. I LOVE the Dave Clark Five but there are things about him all over the Internet that reek of selfishness. I saw some of their old picture sleeves and his face is magnified on all of them! I know he was a great businessman but come on lets give Mike Smith some credit. Its a shame money had to be raised for him did Dave give anything I hope so.

    The PBS special was nice and a lot of rare footage but must we hear from Gene Simmons and Whoopi Goldberg! Ian McKellan (are they trying to tell us Dave is gay) I have heard this on the net by the way and all messages point that way. Not that it matters but I thought we would hear from more of his peers at least we had Paul McCartney. Too bad the other band members didnt live longer Im glad they got inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they should have been in 20 years ago.

  17. I had forgotten about DC5 until I saw them on PBS. I am now enthralled and appaled. I’ve been watching the videos on YouTube but I get so mad listening to wonderful Mike Smith while the camera just shows that glory hound drummer. I cannot get enough of Mike Smith!

  18. Summer, 1967. Toledo, OH. Sold out show at The Sports Arena. Front row seats. Heard almost every note, since the amps and PA were right on top of us. They were a very loud, very exciting, very tight band. Hit after hit, a little English R&B, and a wild instrumental featuring Dave bashing his floor toms and cymbals in a new setup downstage center. Crazy lighting effects, for the time. Only their wardrobe was a tad off-kilter: white sailor trousers, bold striped shirts, and cheesy colored scarves. But they most definitely played live, and the drummer was the most entertaining guy onstage.
    I had set up an interview before the show with Dave, as editor of our school paper, and he spent as much time answering my adolescent questions as though he was talking to Newsweek. A real gentleman. And all the while, the rest of the Five were tuning up their instruments before the show…

  19. I watched this but eventually switched off. As someone else has noticed, it was bits of the same stuff over and over again, with clueless rent-a-mouths like Whoopie Goldberg, whose asinine comments could have been about any band. Nothing she said (perhaps she could have mentioned a couple of their great singles, b-sides or EPs by name) gave me the impression she was ever a fan of their music. All of the others were equally embarrassing. This was written and edited by Clark himself, apparently, so maybe that explains things a little. I loved this band as a kid and was looking forward to an interesting documentary, but it was not to be.

  20. Somehow, I missed the DC5 when they were popular in the 60’s. I watched this program and I felt really sorry for the other band members. Everything was about how I(Dave) felt about how their music should be. I was really disappointed. I also find it hard to believe that he wrote any lyrics or music. After all he played the drums, which are not music but percussion. I heard an interview donewith Mike and he would not come out and say anything unkind about Dave. However, if you listen between the lines he said that Dave would tell them to go home and write a song and thenext day Dave would add his name to the credits. I noticed his name always comes first.

  21. I needed more room. Does anyone know what he meant when he said if you remember the 60’s you didn,t live it. I lived it and I remember the entire decade. I fee llike Dave did to the rest of the boys what the record companies did to other singers, take away their power. He looked really creepy, too much plastic surgery and he is incredibly narcissistic. Not a good combination. One good thing though, the world finally saw him for what he really is. I am cautious of control freaks.

  22. Bill, a guy called Rob Ryan wrote Because and a few other hits.
    DC never wrote a word, he was the Bussiness brains, and has robbed Ron of credit for some great songs as well as the possibility of a lot money.
    DC should come clean before he dies, I doubt he will but it would be the right thing to do.
    When he is gone that’s when all the truth will come out.

  23. Mike Smith was by far the main talent and songwriter. Never got the recognition he deserved. I read something somewhere a while back about Dave Clark being approached first to do what became the Monkees TV show, Obviously was rejected by Dave because he could not control the project and was viewed by Hollywood as making a foolish mistake. Can anyone confirm any of that?

  24. Hi,
    I just stumbled across this site. What aggravates me is the lack of reference material on this band.
    I gave up on Dave having any sense a long time ago. I’m glad there are some great Euro bootlegs made from mint copies of his vinyl releases, but why are there no decent reference works on this band?
    It’s nice to find out that one of my favorite artists also loves one of my favorite bands. You sent a postcard to me once in the 70s while I was doing Robert E. Howard fanzines and you discovered that I was a fan of Scott Walker.
    Thanks for this website and for sharing your amazing talent with the world.

  25. Hi Dennis,
    I don’t know if we’ll ever get an honest bio or history of the band. Dave has pretty much total control over that kind of stuff. Even if he passed away, most of the band is now gone — and info from Mike Smith would be absolutely crucial to an honest biography. That there hasn’t been any exposés on the DC5 and Dave’s treatment of his bandmates makes me think that Dave might have forced his band members to sign a non-disclosure agreement at some point in their career, forever silencing them in regards to the band’s true history.

    The German Rock-in-Beat gray area/bootleg CDs were terrific. I got some fine Czech DC5 compilations as well. If Dave would release all that stuff legitimately, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, especially if the reissues had bonus tracks, rarities, etc.

    I think that Dave has waited too long, though. There’s just not enough of his fan base left alive for him to get the ridiculous money he’s asking for such a deal. Because he had the rights to the DC5 recordings tied up, the DC 5 did not have any airplay in the decades crucial to the revitalization of most 1960s bands. The DC5 now are pretty much forgotten by the record/CD buying public of my generation — and almost absolutely invisible to the current download generation.

    And thank you, Dennis, for the kind words regarding me and my work.

  26. I have a couple of those German releases. The Czech CDs have two pages of original liner notes in each volume, “The Complete History Of”, and those are wonderful and almost essential in some ways. I only have two of those and I’m trying to run the others down just for the liner notes. I am working on a “grey area” reference book on the band. Compiling the minimal reference material on the band is not easy (or cheap!).
    It is also not that easy to find knowledgeable collectors of the band to compare notes. We are dying off!
    I have come across some interviews with Smith, including a really nice radio show with some live performances, but he frequently answers questions with “you’d have to ask Dave about that”.

  27. Hi Bill,
    Do you have the boot called Complete History vol. 5, which contains the brit lps 5 by 5 and If Somebody Loves You?
    That series came with super 16-20 page booklets. The boot of a boot I bought has nothing but an insert. I don’t know if that is the way the original Bits and Pieces Records version came or if this 2nd generation boot just did a shoddy job.
    I paio much to not return the thing if it shortchanged me on a booklet.
    I have one of those Rock in Beat boots and even have a bootleg of one of those, and those both actually sound a little better than the Bits and Pieces boots. Another thing I don’t care for on the Bits and Pieces releases is that they replaced original mono versions of some tracks with stereo mixes that came later.
    I hope you can clear up this booklet mystery for me. It isn’t that easy to collect old and properly undocumented bootlegs.
    Since no one else has really done that, that has become my goal in the last few months, but I don’t don’t to waste a lot of money on second generation boots.

  28. I loved the Dave Clark 5. I read a lot of negative comments about Dave, but I think he was a decent drummer. He might have contributed a little on some of those songs.
    Mike Smith was fantastic. Lenny, Rick & Dennis were very good in their supporting role as players and harmonies. Mike Smith is one of the most under-rated rock vocalists of all time. What a great voice!

  29. In response to Hollywood Joe. There was an actual live concert of the DC5 broadcast only in Australia. It is from the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos California.You can listen to the audio of the entire concert on YouTube.

  30. I used to live about 400 yards away from Rick Huxley in Edmonton. It’s only just occured to me that half a mile from Rick’s old place is “Huxley Sayze” – “Huxley South” and “Huxley Parade” on the A10. How very apt. God bless Rick.

  31. Mike Smith ABSOLUTELY was the voice of the DC5. No dispute. Dave Clark was the brilliant business manager, and the reason they became rich and famous. Now we are reading a lot of bad things about him. I doubt that Freddy Mercury, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Elton John who called him “stone-cold genius” were all fooled by an ego-maniacal bad guy. The internet says it’s true so..? (that and Martians only eat pancakes and who really shot JFK) What one person thinks then becomes fact to others reading it. An above comment, ” That there hasn’t been any exposés on the DC5 and Dave’s treatment of his bandmates makes me think that Dave might have forced his band members to sign a non-disclosure agreement at some point in their career, forever silencing them in regards to the band’s true history.” I read that and thought, could be true, could be total bullsh#t. But some dork will take it for a truism and run with it. Let’s be glad we shared in that coolly distinct DC5 sound. Let some other fool get their panties in a twist.

  32. I lived in Tottenham and used to go to the Mecca Dance Hall called the Royal , the Dave Clark 5 were the resident band and used to do a couple of turns a night ( it had a revolving stage , with The Johnny Howard Band, saw them loads of times they did play live no mime at all , Mike Smith was the star no doubt about it they were good but not as good as the Beatles Or the Stones they had their first hits while resident but had to finish their contract with Mecca before moving on to bigger things the documentary was rubbish to be honest Dave Clark was the least talented of the band and the documentary was an insult to the rest of the band DC has some ego

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  34. Well the DC5 doc was on BBC 4 again this evening. Dave Clark certainly is “Mr Business Man.

    An interesting insight from Ron Ryan here

  35. If my memory serves me correctly- the DC5 appeared on “Ready Steady Go” back in 1964, or `65. Attempting to play live they sounded pretty abysmal. I had a recording of the “performance” on reel to reel tape for some years. Dave ended with a cringe-worthy sort of drum solo, really amateurish to say the least! I was a big fan of the group as a lad so this effort was very disappointing as you can imagine. As far as I know they only released three L.Ps in the U.K in 1964-1965. “A Session With The Dave Clark Five”, “Catch Us If You Can” and an oddity called “Dave Clark Five With The Washington D.C`S”. All of which I still possess. At least on record the band sounded good!

  36. The only way we can find out if the DC5 (minus Mike Smith) played their instruments (Bobby Graham on drums) on their 1964-1966 records and sang four part harmony (e.g. “Because”) is for someone to interview Lenny Davis before he passes away. Lenny Davis is the only answer to these questions.

  37. Reply to Ray’s post of Feb 10th 2017. I remember watching the DC5 on that RSG, Dave’s drumming that finished the programme was “Big Noise From Winnetka”, that’s stuck in my memory all these years. Who remembers Saturday Club on the Radio with Brian Matthews? The DC5 were on there when Bits and Pieces was riding high. They played the B side “All Of The Time” and it was abysmal, a real let down. The sax sounded like a wet fart. For my money one of their best ones was the wordless B side, All Night Long”, can’t remember what the A side was.
    remember the A side. Also there is another UK DC5 Album called Dave Clark Five GO SLOW. One side was fast tracks, the other was slow ones. I bought it some years ago for 50p in a record rack in Eastbourne station.

  38. Hi, I recently published a book on the band that may or may not be of interest:

  39. @ Peter: I got your book and highly recommend it. It is strictly about the recordings — very thorough. No mention of anything controversial. That’s OK — there’s plenty of DC5 controversy here on this site.

    @Moira: Go ahead and quote.

    Would someone please interview Lenny Davidson before he passes?

  40. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately, despite my avoidance of any “controversy”, I have been forced to withdraw it thanks to legal threats from a certain Mr. D.C.! (a far cry from my books on The Searchers and The Tremeloes, where all surviving members were very friendly and helpful). Regardless of everything else, the guy is a control freak, and doesn’t give a damn about the DC5’s musical legacy.

  41. @Peter: Does that mean your book has been pulled off the market? It’s a much-needed compilation and detailed examination of the band’s recorded works. I learned a lot. What’s the harm in having such a compendium available to the public?

  42. Hi Bill,

    Unfortunately, yes. I sold around 100 copies before it was pulled, so people might find them secondhand. But that’s all.

    As you read for yourself, I kept away from controversy, but DC still didn’t like it. He claimed ownership of all the images on record and sheet music covers, something that are generally thought to be in the public domain (look how many Beatles books there are out there, all of which get published without problems from Apple!). I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t budge, and as he can afford the best lawyers I had no choice.

  43. P.S. Lenny Davidson should have a book out soon, written in conjunction with John Briggs (a good guy, who can’t stand DC). I’ll be interested to see how far it gets!

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