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Manic Street Preachers / Gold Against The Soul reissue reviewed

Manic Street Preachers / Gold Against The Soul

A grudging reissue rather goes through the motions 

Despite the swagger of the Manic Street Preachers 1992 debut Generation Terrorists and singles like ‘You Love Us’ and ‘Slash and Burn’, I only really switched on to the band with the brilliant ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ near the end of that campaign. I was therefore keenly anticipating the follow-up and didn’t have to wait very long as the Dave Eringa-produced Gold Against The Soul arrived about 18 months after the first album and delivered three great singles in ‘From Despair To Where’, ‘La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)’ and ‘Roses in the Hospital’ (as well as the ‘Life Becoming A Landslide’ EP).

The band have finally got around to reissuing Gold Against The Soul, almost grudgingly it seems, with Nicky Wire all but acknowledging it’s the black sheep in the family of their early albums: “We haven’t always been the most complementary about this album in the past, but with hindsight it was a strange and curious record.”

When it comes to their new records, the Manics seem to understand the importance of consistency of presentation. The last five long-players (since 2009’s Journal For Plague Lovers) have all come as near identical, shelf-friendly, compact hardcover book deluxe editions, normally offering at least a bonus CD of demos. However with reissues, they are frankly all over the place.

10th anniversary editions of The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go were CD-sized multi-disc packages, while 10 years on, both albums were reissued again in 12-inch lift-off lid boxes (the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 2012 reissue of Generation Terrorists was a 10-inch set).

2017’s ’10 Year Collector’s Edition’ of Send Away The Tigers abandoned the box format and was actually consistent with the deluxe editions of the new albums and then in 2018 the This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours 20th anniversary collector’s edition was different yet again. This time not a 12-inch box, not a DVD-sized hardcover book deluxe set, but an 8.5” square book which looks like nothing else they’ve put out.

Surely the reissue of Gold Against The Soul will be consistent with something, if only by accident!? Well, no actually. Yes, it is a hardcover book, but it’s A4-sized and can’t sit properly alongside the 12-inch boxes (they’re too big) or the smaller deluxe sets (they’re too small). Nothing is ‘just right’ so Gold Against The Soul is like an outcast having to sit on its own. Maybe that was the idea – we know they don’t really like it!


The deluxe editions of the Manics’ new albums exhibit a consistency not present with the reissues

Since the deluxe reissue is only a two-CD set (expanded album on CD 1 and demos and remixes on CD 2) they really should have made it consistent with the new album deluxe sets and the Send Away The Tigers reissue. I hate to be cynical, but surely the only reason not to do that is because it denies you the opportunity to artificially inflate the price by literally making it bigger – although I’m sure the band will claim otherwise, saying they wanted a bigger format to show off Mitch Ikeda’s photos.

Let’s talk about the book. Yes, it’s interesting looking at the young band during this era, but that’s all the tome consists of – great photos (and some lyrics). It’s a five-minute flick through and you’re done. No essays, no attempt to place the album in context, no annotation from any of the band to explain whey they haven’t “always been the most complementary about this album in the past”. At a different price point we could perhaps shrug this off, but this big photo-book is pumping up a £15-18 deluxe set to £40 plus.

The problems don’t end there. Remember the so-called ‘loudness wars’? The process of remastering that involves overly compressing music and just cranking everything up to the max. The quiet bits sound loud and the loud bits also sound loud, leading to what audiophiles refer to as ‘brickwalling’. I thought we’d got past the worst of that, but Gold Against The Soul 2020 is a great example of the concept in action. The remaster sounds, frankly, horrible. If you think I’m nit-picking about packaging, there’s no defending treating the actual music this way. It’s ear-bleedingly ‘loud’. I have the original CD and the difference is massive. No doubt the 1993 audio could have done with a EQ tweak here and there, but this is way beyond that. The remastering is credited to frontman James Dean Bradfield and Matt Colton, from Metropolis Studios. What were they thinking? The 2011 compilation National Treasures – The Complete Singles includes a remastered version of the Gold Against The Soul singles and I had a listen to ‘From Despair To Where’ and it’s far less harsh than on this new album reissue. I haven’t heard the new vinyl and would be interested to know if that’s any better.

The B-sides are appended to the album on CD 1, whilst CD 2 offers the usual array of demos which are always interesting and impressively well developed. For some reason, the demos are labelled as ‘remastered’ which makes no sense, since these are previously unreleased. The reissue ends with more remixes of ‘Roses in the Hospital’ then anyone really needs but omits the seven-inch version of that same single. The Chemical Brothers’ remix of ‘La Tristesse Durera’ is pretty good though.

In summary, while boxes have certainly been ticked, and it appears to do what it should, the band seem to have treated Gold Against the Soul rather poorly with this reissue. The album is the ex-girlfriend they want to forget, while fans keep saying what a ‘nice girl’ she was. Whether subliminally or not, they’ve gone through the motions and there’s a casualness to the exercise and borderline malice in the treatment of the music, and the fans, come to mention it, with that price point.

The Gold Against The Soul reissue is out now. Hold on to your original CD.

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Manic Street Preachers

Gold Against The Soul - 2CD deluxe book edition

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Manic Street Preachers

Gold Against The Soul - vinyl LP

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Gold Against The Soul 2CD deluxe edition

CD1
1.            Sleepflower (Remastered)
2.            From Despair To Where (Remastered)
3.            La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) [Remastered]
4.            Yourself (Remastered)
5.            Life Becoming a Landslide (Remastered)
6.            Drug Drug Druggy (Remastered)
7.            Roses In The Hospital (Remastered)
8.            Nostalgic Pushead (Remastered)
9.            Symphony of Tourette (Remastered)
10.          Gold Against The Soul (Remastered)
11.          Donkeys (Remastered)
12.          Comfort Comes (Remastered)
13.          Are Mothers Saints (Remastered)
14.          Patrick Bateman (Remastered)
15.          Hibernation (Remastered)
16.          Us Against You (Remastered)
17.          Charles Windsor (Remastered)
18.          Wrote For Luck (Remastered)
19.          What’s My Name (Live) [Remastered]

CD2
1. Sleepflower (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
2.  From Despair To Where (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
3.   La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
4.  Yourself (Live In Bangkok) [Remastered]
5.  Life Becoming a Landslide (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
6.  Drug Drug Druggy (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
7.  Drug Drug Druggy (Impact Demo) [Remastered]
8.  Roses In The Hospital (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
9.   Roses In The Hospital (Impact Demo) [Remastered]
10.   Nostalgic Pushead (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
11.  Symphony of Tourette (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
12.  Gold Against The Soul (House in the Woods Demo) [Remastered]
13.   Roses In The Hospital (OG Psychovocal Remix) [Remastered]
14.  Roses In The Hospital (51 Funk Salute) [Remastered]
15.  La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical Brothers Vocal Remix)
16.   Roses In The Hospital (Filet O Gang Remix) [Remastered]
17.   Roses In The Hospital (ECG Remix) [Remastered]

Gold Against The Soul vinyl remaster

Side 1
1. Sleepflower
2. From Despair to Where
3. La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
4. Yourself
5. Life Becoming a Landslide

Side 2
1. Drug Drug Druggy
2. Roses in the Hospital
3. Nostalgic Pushead
4. Symphony of Tourette
5. Gold Against the Soul

46 responses to Manic Street Preachers / Gold Against The Soul reissue reviewed

  1. Larry Davis says:

    Well, I had read all the negative comments before my copy arrived today (the 2CD/book), expected to hate it…well I love the original album…expected to hold my ears in horror…NOT the case!! I think this set is very well done!! First, the book is quite cool, love that kind of photography…as for the remastering, I have no problem with it!! Nice & loud and with dynamics, I hear things that were previously buried in the 1993 muddy mix…this is nice and clear…everyone who disagrees (yes you too Paul), we must be hearing different things and/or it could be personal taste or preference…I prefer things to be louder, I hate having to always turn the volume knob up on a new CD…sometimes having to turn it DOWN is fine…also, in comparison to the 2009 4Real Japanese 2CD, I like how, here, the B-sides are on the same disc as the original album, so it feels like it’s a longer album, not skimpy at only 10 songs, like a followup double album after GenTerr, ending with 2 cool covers of Happy Mondays’ “Wrote For Luck” & a live “What’s My Name??” by the Clash…and I like how the demos disc are in the same order as the original album sequence on CD2, with the remixes at the end…treating this album with neglect and like the girlfriend they want to forget?? No way!! Not with Richie Edwards in the mix & photos!! I think they gave this album the respect it deserves, and went as far as they could go with it…as for future projects, the only things left are “Know Your Enemy”, “Lifeblood” & an expanded “Lipstick Traces”…wonder when/if (??) they will tackle those?? But I guess first is JDB’s next solo album, Wire’s next solo album, and the new 2021 album…sooooo, 2022 or 2023 then??

    • Jules(Rules) says:

      “I prefer things to be louder, I hate having to always turn the volume knob up on a new CD…sometimes having to turn it DOWN is fine”

      You’re not only missing the point of CD as a format as it was conceived, but also the point of music as it has been performed for millions of years.

      If everything is on the same level, there is no depth to the music.

  2. David T-W says:

    I wasn’t going to bother with anything but the vinyl, which I bought from my local indie, already having the sigs on the THB set.

    But then, once the release date came, I ordered the book/CDs, too, because I knew I’d regret waiting for the price to fall if it only ever went skyward.

    The remastering is brick-walled, yes, but without doing a side-by-side comparison, it sounds good to me, I must say.

    Baffling choice to package the whole reissue this way, though, absolutely agreed. And then for what looks like a great related film to be released to YouTube a week later when it would have been perfect on a third disc and helped justify the price… So odd.

  3. deceased says:

    I hope the (justified) negativity around this reissue doesn’t kill off their reissue campaign & we still get expanded versions of Know Your Enemy & Lifeblood but that they revert more to the Send Away The Tigers style of reissue in both presentation & price (but not the revising of tracklists)…

    Then I think we must also be due a 2nd Lipstick Traces B’s & Rarities compilation, plenty of tracks to choose from now…

    01. The Instrumental
    02. Alien Orders/Invisible Armies
    03. Primitive Painters
    04. Vision Blurred
    05. I Know The Numbers
    06. I’m Leaving You For Solitude
    07. Distractions
    08. Ostpolitik
    09. Lost Voices
    10. Time Ain’t Nothing
    11. Broken Up Again
    12. Red Rubber
    13. Evidence Against Myself
    14. Slow Reflections/Strange Delays
    15. The Passing Show
    16. Inky Fingers
    17. Engage With Your Shadow
    18. Kiss My Eyes For Eternity
    19. Midnight Sun
    20. Rock ‘n’ Roll Genius
    21. We Were Never Told
    22. The Endless Plain Of Fortune
    23. Wake Up Alone
    24. T.E. Lawrence On A Bike
    25. What Happened To The Blue Generation?
    26. Melancholyme
    27. Death Of A Digital Ghost
    28. See It Like Sutherland
    29. The Sound Of Detachment
    30. Caldey
    31. Blistered Mirrors
    32. Empty Motorcade
    33. The Last Time I Saw Paris
    34. Antisocialmanifesto
    35. Kodawari
    36. Start Me Up
    37. [Feels Like] Heaven
    38. Together Stronger
    39. Holding Patterns
    40. Mirror Gaze
    41. Concrete Fields
    42. A Soundtrack To Complete Withdrawal

    Nice 2 or 3 disc collection there…

    • Graeme says:

      You could also add the b-sides to “There By The Grace Of God”. I’d be up for that.

      • deceased says:

        I would probably whack them on the Lifeblood Bonus CD but yeah, they could do with going somewhere, good shout…

  4. Gavaxeman says:

    In fairness I have received my vinyl copy and signed sleeve within a week- so they may have had an issue but have put it right extremely fast – well done

    • Alan B says:

      I will second that. Got my LP on Monday and the signed sleeve today. Beautifully signed by the band as usual. Sleeve even included a download code. Wasn’t expecting it to be resolved that quickly.

  5. skreama says:

    To celebrate the recent reissue of their second album ‘Gold Against The Soul’, the band will soon be releasing a concert movie from the era filmed on their 1993 tour of Japan. The film will be released on Youtube tomorrow, and is the latest to be made with the band’s longtime collaborator and BAFTA-winning director Kieran Evans

  6. Bleddyn Williams says:

    If any fans have picked up the CD Book set and the vinyl, I’m sure folks here would love to hear your thoughts on comparing the two.

    I have the CD Book coming but given the poor reviews of the sound I’m wondering if it’s worth picking up a copy of the vinyl.

  7. M says:

    This reissue has really blotted the manics copy book. A simple well remastered triple cd sized version and the vinyl reissue would have been better all round, with the hardback book issue for the completists. I’m sure a normal double remastered CD will be issued at some point at a reasonable price but the manics have really misjudged this one.

  8. Bleddyn Williams says:

    One thing you must give the Manics is that they always seem to do proper signatures on their signed editions. I have about 5 signed items and they are very consistent in having full signatures on each one. Compare that with someone like Luke Haines who basically gives you a 2-second “L” that passes for an autograph!

    I’ve got into the habit of picking up the Manics signed editions, and I ordered the book edition of GATS despite the price. To be honest, I’m kinda regretting this now with all these negative comments about the remaster, and the high price. Oh well its on the way now. But I’ll be a bit more thoughtful before ordering in future.

  9. Jason Brown says:

    It’s my second favourite MSP album. One of the reasons is the original album sounds superb; a massive step up on GT. A more conscious rock sound. Also, it’s short. 10 tracks, tight and punchy. Has one of their best ever openers in Sleepflower, and one of their greatest singles in La Tristessa. And, as an album experience listening start to end, it holds up well. A far, far stronger album than SATT

    When the price falls to nearer £25, I’ll have a look.

  10. Michael says:

    Everybody involved with this release should be ashamed of themselves. What qualifies JDB as an audio engineer, because it certainly isn’t his ears if this shambles sounds good to him? The band not liking this album is no excuse for doing this to it. If they have no respect for their own work that’s fine, but they should at least show a little to their fans. A sad disgrace.

  11. Paul Nolan says:

    I got the new Vinyl version and I think its quite good. I think the sound is quite low to be honest I had to crank the volume up. I dont have an original vinyl to compare it to though

  12. JuzzyB says:

    Yes, this is a not a purchase for those who would just like a definitive expanded version of the album. The tracklist is actually pretty comprehensive for that period and I would snap it up for £20ish but I am not remotely interested in looking a book of photos of the band. In fact, I am always surprised that anyone is interested in this sort of thing apart from the band themselves. They should abandon this expensive ego-stroking shit and focus on the getting the music right. If the remaster sounds terrible then that’s even worse!

  13. Dave H says:

    My thoughts exactly regarding the inconsistency of the packaging, I guess we’ve been spoilt by all the Jethro Tull, Marillion, XTC and Crowded House reissues to name a few that have all used the same type of packaging through-out their reissue campaign.

    The only signed copy I have in my collection is ‘Everything Must Go’ and I have to congratulate all three of the Manics for doing proper signatures and not just a squiggle or initials. The insert looks very nice.

  14. Billy J says:

    One thing no one has mentioned is the single “clean” version of Roses In The Hospital is still missing. It’s not even on the National Treasures set….

  15. Normand says:

    Wow! I didn’t know there was plenty of deluxe editions of the Manic Street Preachers. It looks great on your shelf. Oh! Where is Script for a Jester’s Tear? I don’t see it…

  16. gavaxeman says:

    And also major mistakes with orders sent out – I am missing my signed vinyl completely- others have got copies they didn’t order . Total disaster

    • KevinS says:

      I ordered a copy of the signed vinyl when it was first announced.

      Received the ‘dispatched’ email last week but nothing has arrived yet.
      I appreciate that the post is a little delayed/disrupted at the moment, there are a few things that have taken a little longer to arrive, so I’ll keep my eye out for the postie.

      I hope MSP haven’t mucked this up!

  17. WeeSluggy says:

    i did have this on pre-order despite it being well over-priced, hoped it would come down before release , it went down a fiver which wasnt enough of a drop for me, so got cancelled and i’ll take my chances on decent deal when it happens

  18. Andrea Gianni says:

    Paul, thanks once more for an accurate review which for sure will help every potential buyer to make up his mind. I also bought all MSP reissue so far (so double Holy Bible and EMG) appreciating the price/content ratio. For this one I’ll really wait for a good bargain (if ever) otherwise I’ll live without. Inconsistent layout, poor audio remaster, limited amount of rarities, low interest book and – cherry on the cake – high price. I wonder how many they’ll sell at this price….. thanks again!

  19. Toast says:

    Got my Book yesterday, and for the purposes of this comment I am going to emphasize: this is really more about the book than the CD’s. I hate to use the term but this is a beautiful “coffee table” photo book. The photographs are wonderful and and really shine a light on a much overlooked part of the Manics history. These 120 pages are more than a five minute flick through IMHO (sorry Paul). Not wanting to repeat too much of what I posted in the original thread regarding this reissue but I cannot understand why so many fellow posters think this should cost 15.99 or whatever, large format hardcover art books cost more and this one includes 2 CDs of music. Speaking of which, as I’m already familiar with most of the tracks here I’m most interested in the demos. It’s a shame the remaster is brickwalled but I’m not sure I’m enough of an audiophile to notice these things (plus my hearing is shot to pieces and I have moderate tinnitus from years of too much loud music!). In terms of where it fits on the shelf, I fully agree that the Manics reissue formats have been all over the place, but this one will be going on the bookshelf and sits perfectly next to the Clash London Calling Scrapbook, which I also referenced as a possible comparison item (in both cost and content) in my original post, plus the Kevin Cummins’ Manics photo book, as mentioned by Tim Meh, and Tom Sheehan’s stunning You Love Us book, both of which were a similar price on release.

  20. Rare Glam says:

    I have always bought all the newer MSP albums as thay come out in the HB digibook format, though I have never bothered with any of the reissue boxes (I did though get the couple of earlier fat digipak titles). I have all the Japanese ‘For Real’ 2 x CD sets and was not sure what I would be duplicating from them on the digibook editions I know there are at least two very good B sides on one of them that don’t appear on National Treasures. I must say though I quite like the look of ‘Send Away the Tigers’ 10th as well. I did splurge out on the super deluxe white individual CD singles box set of National Treasures and never regreted it. This new GATS reissue th0ugh from your review Paul, does not bode well in price or content. I was toying with getting it at a later date if the price dopped a bit given it is remastered. However, if it’s just been brickwalled, there’s no point, I’ll stick with my earler Japanse re-issue. I should have plumped for the Generation Terrorists 10″ box when it came out though. Hindsight eh!

  21. colm47 says:

    Hi Paul

    Why are Crowded House next to MSP?
    And Hall and Oates next to Marillion?

    Do you not file by alphabet?
    I feel you had this discussion on here in the past!!

  22. Tim-Meh says:

    Actually I think the format works exceptionally well when its shelved next to Mitch Ikeda’s Forever Delayed and Kevin Cummins Assassinated Beauty books.

  23. Graeme says:

    I’ve got most of the reissues, but the price put me off this, and now the remastering means I’m unlikely to get this even if I see it for £20.

    I’m afraid I’ve downloaded the b-sides that aren’t on Lipstick Traces – that’ll do for me.

    BTW does anyone know where you can get the Generation Terrorists b-sides without paying silly money for the aforementioned box-set?

  24. Joe says:

    Be waiting for this , but I just buy the vinyl, if the price drops on the box set, I will pick it up.
    Love to see Lifeblood reissued on vinyl and maybe Lipstick Traces for RSD maybe.

  25. Caroline says:

    I’ve always spoken up for “Gold Against The Soul”. While it undoubtedly dips on side 2, side 1 is excellent. But it was clearly a difficult album to make and some of the b-sides confirm this: “Patrick Bateman”, the first song from the era to be played live, is just awful; 6 excruciating minutes of heavy metal cliche that has no melody, direction or reason to exist. But by the time we get to the b-sides from “Life Becoming A Landslide”, they’ve clearly recovered some direction with “Comfort Comes” being an obvious tip to where they would head with “The Holy Bible”.

    As someone who is happy to spend my money on the Manics and an owner of many of their deluxe editions and reissues, I’m not touching this one with a forty-foot pole. But I look forward to a new album whenever it arrives.

  26. Ross Baker says:

    Oh, and just to add to your list of varied sleeve designs, the Generation Terrorists box was actually a 10″ one rather than a 12″, meaning it doesn’t even fit alongside the THB and EMG sets. I understand giving each album its own identity and fitting packaging, but doing some of them the same and then others as one-off designs really is baffling.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks for the reminder. I don’t have a Generation Terrorists box – I gave the only one I had away in an SDE competition!! And they were then basically impossible to get hold of.

  27. FrenchDuke79 says:

    This was my first Manics album. I didn’t like Generation Terrorists when it was out as it felt, to me, like a poor man’s Guns N Roses. I still don’t like it now to be honest but in contrast I loved Gold Against The Soul. For me it was edgier and sounded like a proper band rather than a hommage. I was really excited about the reissue of this but when I saw the content and the price point I was put off. My thoughts at that point were that I would wait until the inevitable reductions. Based on your review though I won’t even buy it when it’s reduced. Like you Paul I’m keen to hear how the vinyl is sounding but otherwise this is a depressing let down. Why did they bother?

  28. Ross Baker says:

    Some astonishing errors from their official store, too – a lot of the signed LPs have been sent out as standard as they didn’t have enough signed copies, with a promise of sending on a second, signed, sleeve in a few months (how does a professional copy sell more of one thing than they have?!), and, as usual with the Manics official store, plenty of copies have been arriving with bent corners due to terrible packaging. I’m generally all for supporting the artist directly, but the Manics make it so hard to do.

    I’ll be picking this up once it’s gone down in price somewhat. It’s not an album I listen to much anyway – in my bottom three Manics records – so it’ll be nice to just pop the whole thing on, b-sides and all, on the rare occasion I do listen to it. If it were a regular favourite then I think the mastering would get too much and I’d keep the original.

  29. Chris says:

    You’re pretty spot on Paul. I got the vinyl just for the curiosity of having the band’s signatures on the front. I’ve got the original CD in the loft so can’t really make the sound comparison between the two.

    Fortunately with the vinyl there is no need to flip over for side two – it contains four of the worst songs the band ever committed to tape (I’ll make an exception for Roses In The Hospital, which is tolerable). James was keen to use the studio time to channel his inner Brian May/Slash fixation it appears……

    • Alan B says:

      At least you got your signed LP. There are comments in the Out This Week thread where both myself and a few others have been victim of an almighty cock-up whereby not only did we not get the signed LPs we ordered, we didn’t even get any LPs at all sent to us (only the CD books and signed prints were sent – which was ordered together with the signed LPs) and had to contact customer services where we have been promised signed sleeves will be sent to each of us.

      I pre ordered my signed LP as soon as it was available to do so online and it was available to pre-order for a good while after I did it, so it is not as if I was last in the queue to get one and the last few missed out.

  30. Mark says:

    £40 for the deluxe, why? I’ve purchased all up to now. Thanks Paul, I’ll stick to my original cd.

  31. Chris Squires says:

    It may be heresy but I don’t think I have ever listened to an MSP track, not my thing. However what this article did inspire me to do is drag out my copy of “Do What you Want, Be What you are” by the ever brilliant Hall & Oates, so thank you Paul for inspiring my day’s listening. I find shelves of music fascinating, it’s just a shame that nobody I know, in real life, could care less.

    • John McCann'. says:

      I care chris,,if thats worth anything,
      I have a four shelving unit (white)it is actually a Yankee candle shop display,shop in Inverness was closing and where selling off the furnishing,
      Top shelve we find my collection of arrow dvds,about 50,second shelve it’s b.f.i, about 60,third shelve, Simpsons seasons 1 to 12, stops buying after that, bottom shelve , Warner brothers premier collection,h.m.v.exclusives, shelves,are good ,all Blu-ray, hope your well John,any money saving tips this week

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