Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Yes The Ladder released

The Ladder

Yes


Released: September 28, 1999


Peak: 99 US, 36 UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Homeworld (The Ladder) [9:32] (1/3/99, --)
  2. It Will Be a Good Day (The River) [4:53]
  3. Lightning Strikes…She Ay (Do Wa Bap) [5:35] (1999, --)
  4. Can I? [1:31]
  5. Face to Face [5:02]
  6. If Only You Knew [5:42] (10/31/00, --)
  7. To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) [5:07]
  8. Finally [6:01]
  9. The Messenger [5:12]
  10. New Language [9:19]
  11. Nine Voices (Longwalker) [3:22]

Lyrics by Anderson. Music by Anderson, Howe, Sherwood, Squire, White, and Khoroshev.


Total Running Time: 60:26


The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals)
  • Steve Howe (guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, banjo)
  • Chris Squire (bass, backing vocals, harmonica)
  • Alan White (drumers, percussion, backing vocals)
  • Billy Sherwood (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Igor Khoroshev (keyboards, backing vocals)

Rating:

2.964 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

About the Album:

Yes’ 18th studio album featured the same lineup which recorded the poorly-received Open Your Eyes in 1997 and the group which hit the road for the band’s 30th anniversary tour. White reported that the band lived in different apartments in the same building during the recording and travelled to and from the studio together – something they hadn’t done since 1977’s Going for the One. WK

Bruce Fairbairn was brought in to produce the album. He’d previously produced such albums as Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and New Jersey as well as Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation, Pump, and Get a Grip. He also worked with AC/DC, Blue Öyster Cult, Chicago, the Cranberries, INXS, Kiss, Loverboy, Poison, the Scorpions, and Van Halen. He died unexpectedly during the making of the album. Yes dedicated the album to him. Anderson and Howe performed Nine Voices (Longwalker) at his funeral. WK

That song was based on a 1978 spiritual-led walk across the United States which was organized by the American Indian Movement to support tribal sovereignty. Anderson befriended a participant named Long Walker and wrote a song about the nine tribe members and the song they sing “to bring forgiveness in the world.” WK

Homeworld (The Ladder) resulted from the band’s discussions with Sierra Games about licensing a track for their game Homeworld. The song, with Anderson’s lyrics inspired by the game’s themes of science fiction, space, and the search for a new home, was featured in the game’s end credits. WK All Music Guide’s Bret Adams called it a “tight performance” AMG while The Daily Vault’s Jason Warburg said the song showed how the group “can unquestionably still tackle the sprawling, multi-themed rock numbers that were once its bread and butter.” WK

However, Warburg also said the band was struggling to define itself, but blended their 1970s progressive sound with their pop-oriented 1980s fare better than they had on Open Your Eyes. Adams agreed that “The Ladder is a synthesis of the best traits of the experimental Fragile era and the pop-oriented 90125 era.” AMG

Adams considered Face to Face, in which “Squire lets loose with a sputtering bassline,” to be the strongest track. AMG Band biographer Chris Welch commended the track for “some of the most joyful playing heard on a Yes album in many moons.” WK

Adams called New Language “the best long song… thanks to a clever arrangement giving all six members an opportunity to demonstrate their talents.” AMG He considered If Only You Knew, which Anderson wrote for his wife, “a sweet, straightforward love song” AMG and noted The Messenger “has a smooth, funky feel – a remarkable feat considering prog rock is usually considered the ‘whitest’ rock genre.” AMG

The Ladder largely “received a warm reception from critics who saw the album as a return to creative form.” WK Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Gene Stout called it a “bright, optimistic album” WK and the Daily Herald’s Rick Baert considered it a return to the band’s musical roots.

Adams questioned the roles of Khoroshev and Sherwood. He said “it occasionally seems the purpose of Khoroshev’s keyboards is providing a variety of sonic textures instead of functioning as a lead instrument.” AMG He did acknowledge that Sherwood’s “second guitar tends to flesh out the sound.” AMG Both were gone after this album. While touring to support The Ladder, Khorshev was dismissed because of backstage sexual harassment. Sherwood left after the tour, but returned in 2015.


Notes: The Japanese release included live performances of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “And You and I.” The 2000 Limited Tour Edition included additional versions of “Homeworld,” “The Messenger,” and “All Good People.”

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First posted 7/25/2021.

Alan Parsons The Time Machine released

The Time Machine

Alan Parsons


Released: September 28, 1999


Peak: 11 DF


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock lite


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Time Machine – Part 1 (instrumental) (Elliott) [5:08] (2000 single, --)
  2. Temporalia (instrumental) (Parsons) [1:10]
  3. Out of the Blue [4:59] v: Tony Hadley (9/99 single, --)
  4. Call Up [5:13] v: Neil Lockwood
  5. Ignorance Is Bliss [6:49] v: Colin Blunstone
  6. Rubber Universe (instrumental) [3:59]
  7. Call of the Wild [5:33] v: Maire Brennan
  8. No Future in the Past (Elliott) [4:48] v: Neil Lockwood
  9. Press Rewind (Elliott) (4:15] v: Graham Dye
  10. The Very Last Time [3:40] v: Beverly Craven (1999 single, --)
  11. Far Ago and Long Away (instrumental) [5:14]
  12. The Time Machine – Part 2 (instrumental) (Elliott) [1:53]
Unless otherwise noted, songs are written by Ian Bairnson. The ‘v’ after the song listing indicates who provides lead vocals.


Total Running Time: 51:50


The Players:

  • Alan Parsons (engineer, producer, composer, acoustic guitars, keyboards, organ)
  • Ian Bairnson (keyboards, guitars, mandolin, saxophone, composer)
  • Stuart Elliott (keyboards/programming, drums/programming, percussion, orchestral arrangement, composer)
  • Andrew Powell (orchestra arrangement and direction)
  • The Philharmonia Orchestra (strings, brass, horns)
  • Clio Gould (orchestra leader)
  • Richard Cottle, Robyn Smith (keyboards, piano)
  • John Giblin (bass)
  • Claire Orsler (viola)
  • Jackie Norrie, Julia Singleton (violin)
  • Kathryn Tickell (bagpipes, Northumbrian pipes)
  • Julian Sutton (melodeon)

Rating:

2.955 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)


Quotable: “Parsons’ best work of the 1990s” – Mike DeGagne, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

"This concept album about the passage of time – and the triumphs, mistakes, regrets, and memories associated with it – is Parsons' best work of the 1990s. It blends Parsons' traditional prog-rock and pop-rock leanings with a bit of techno.” AMG The “sonically flawless” AZ work "actually features very little musical input from Parsons himself,” AMG who as producer and engineer, “twiddles the knobs and slides the levers, just like the Great Oz. Fans will find that Parsons…has successfully stayed his familiar course.” AZ ”If the result is something akin to Pink Floyd lite meets Kenny G in the New Age aisle at your local Natural Wonders outlet, thus has it ever been. While it lyrically renders H.G. Wells's original novel all touchy-feely and virtually unrecognizable, musically it's a reaffirmation that Parsons – not Toto, Journey, or a score of lesser pretenders to the mantle – is the real godfather of corporate rock.” AZ

"Parsons's familiar methodology once again shrewdly employs an almost-star cast of musical vets to do the heavy lifting.” AZ “The real stars are guitarist/saxophonist/keyboardist/bassist Ian Bairnson and drummer/keyboardist Stuart Elliott, both longtime Alan Parsons Project cohorts who individually wrote most of this album's songs.” AMG ”Bassist John Giblin and vocalist Neil Lockwood return for their second go-round. In a pleasant surprise, former Project vocalists Colin Blunstone and Chris Rainbow return after many years' absence. The vocalist corps is rounded out by Parsons semi-regular Graham Dye, and three new guest vocalists, all of whom are an interesting variance from Parsons' normal sound.” DV

"The Time Machine (Part 1) is a wonderful instrumental complete with dreamy acoustic guitar lines and a steady drum-machine rhythm.” AMG This and The Time Machine (Part 2), are “brilliant piece[s] of work, the Jarre-like synthesizer and drums sandwiching the album neatly.” DV

First up in the guest vocal department is "Spandau Ballet vocalist Tony Hadley [who] tastefully restrains his past histrionics for Out of the Blue.” AMG “Hadley slides into the Parsons sound as easy as if he'd been bred for it.” DV

Then comes the song that has become standard on every Parsons’ album since 1985’s Vulture Culture - the shoulda-been hit that wasn’t. This time around, it is a lyrically simplistic, but catchy Call Up. Conceptually, this song is on par with, say, Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ – the song feels like it was written in a matter of minutes, but its incredibly basic idea is clever nonetheless. As in Joel’s ‘Fire,’ we get a walk through history in a matter of minutes, but on “Call Up” the focus is on musical and motion picture legends “who came and changed this world/we would welcome back today/they would really light the way.”

Longtime Parsons’ contributor Colin "Blunstone is featured on the hypnotic Ignorance Is Bliss, which also contains tasteful piano and orchestral flourishes.” AMG

"Rubber Universe may be the catchiest vocal-free piece on a Parsons CD since ‘Hawkeye’ on 1985's Vulture Culture. Both of these show the excellent writing ability of Bairnson and Elliot, performers who are heavily underappreciated both as composers and as guitarist and drummer. Ian Bairnson, for example, got bored a few years ago, so he learned how to play saxophone -- well enough he provides all the sax lines on this CD. This is what the guy does when he’s bored.” DV

As the second guest singer, Maire Brennan shows up on The Call of the Wild, a song that sounds more like her group Clannad than anything Alan Parsons has ever done. Her "vocal work…is delicate, breathy, and the full undertones of her ethereal voice are brought out by Parsons' production.” DV The song “has a warm, Celtic feel thanks to [her] vocals…and a sprinkling of Northumbrian pipes.” AMG

"No Future in the Past and Press Rewind are the album's most distinctive pop-rock numbers.” AMG ”Both are unusual for Parsons, the first hard rock, the second an almost guitar-band sound.” DV

Last on the list of guest vocalists is “English singer-songwriter Beverly Craven” DV who "provides the vocals on the lush, bittersweet ballad The Very Last Time.” AMG The song "is minimally produced and arranged, with brilliant piano by new keyboardist Robyn Smith. Craven’s voice is not at all what you expect on a Parsons CD; it's bluesy, expressive, and the song itself is acoustic. It’s a long way from ‘Sirius/Eye in the Sky’, but it works.” DV

"Far Ago and Long Away is a densely arranged instrumental with an overtly techno flavor.” AMG

“Parsons has deviated from his standard sound, taken some chances, and come out a winner.” DV “It works…better than anything he’s done since the 1987 breakup of the Project.” DVThe Time Machine will definitely please diehard Parsons fans.” AMG

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First posted 4/4/2008; last updated 7/20/2022.

Sting Brand New Day released

Brand New Day

Sting


Released: September 28, 1999


Peak: 9 US, 5 UK, 12 CN, 21 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. A Thousand Years (Sting, Kipper) [5:58]
  2. Desert Rose (with Cheb Mami) [4:45] (1/29/00, 17 US, 19 RR, 22 AC, 3 A40, 1 AA, 15 UK, 67 AU)
  3. Big Lie Small World (with David Hartley) [5:05]
  4. After the Rain Has Fallen [5:03] (4/1/00, 19 A40, 2 AA, 31 UK)
  5. Perfect Love…Gone Wrong (with Sté Strausz) [5:24]
  6. Tomorrow We’ll See (with David Hartley) [4:47]
  7. Prelude to the End of the Game [0:20]
  8. Fill Her Up (with James Taylor) [5:39]
  9. Ghost Story [5:29]
  10. Brand New Day (with Stevie Wonder on harmonica) [6:19] (9/25/99, 8 A40, 2 AA, 13 UK)

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 48:49

Rating:

3.902 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“By the late '90s, Sting had reached a point where he didn’t have to prove his worth every time out; he had so ingrained himself in pop culture, he really had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. He had that attitude on Mercury Falling, but it was too somber and serious, everything that its successor, Brand New Day, is not.” AMG

Mercury Falling seemed to signal the end of Sting’s top-40 days and transition to a more adult audience. This album certainly appeals to the latter Brand New Day and Desert Rose both topping the adult alternative chart and After the Rain Has Fallen reaching #2. However, Sting also showed his top-40 days weren’t over yet when “Desert Rose” reached the top 20.

Part of the restoration of Sting as a pop artist is that Brand New Day is “light, even effervescent.” AMG “The sparkling, meticulous production and the very tone of the music – ranging from light funk to mellow ballads to the Lyle Lovett tribute Fill Her Up – are of a piece with Sting's late-‘80s work. That’s the main thing separating it from Ten Summoner’s Tales, his other straight pop album – well, that, and the levity. There are no overarching themes, no political messages on Brand New Day – only love songs, story songs, and, for lack of a better term, inspirational exhortations.” AMG

“This is all a good thing, since by keeping things light he’s managed to craft an appealing, engaging record. It may not ask as much from its audience as Sting’s other ‘90s efforts, but it’s immediately enjoyable, which isn’t the case for its cousins. Brand New Day doesn’t boast any new classics, and it does sound a little dated, but it’s well-crafted, melodic, and has a good sense of humor – exactly the kind of record Sting should be making as he embarks on the third decade of his career.” AMG

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/27/2021.

Monday, September 20, 1999

Tori Amos To Venus and Back released

To Venus and Back

Tori Amos


Released: September 20, 1999


Peak: 12 US, 22 UK, 18 CN, 6 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Genre: piano-based adult alternative rock


Tracks (Venus: Orbiting):

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Bliss [3:42] (8/24/99, 91 US, 7 CN)
  2. Juarez [3:48]
  3. Concertina [3:56] (2/8/00, --)
  4. Glory of the ‘80s [4:03] (10/11/99, 46 UK, 81 AU)
  5. Lust [3:54]
  6. Suede [4:56]
  7. Josephine [2:30]
  8. Riot Poot [3:28]
  9. Datura [8:25]
  10. Spring Haze [4:44]
  11. 1000 Oceans [4:19] (9/9/99, --)

Total Running Time: 47:50


Tracks (Venus Live, Still Orbiting):

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks)

  1. Precious Things [7:37] (album cut from Little Earthquakes, 2/25/92)
  2. Cruel [6:47] (8/24/98, --)
  3. Cornflake Girl [6:31] (1/10/94, 4 UK, 12 MR)
  4. Bells for Her [5:42] (album cut from Under the Pink, 2/1/94)
  5. Girl [4:15] (album cut from Little Earthquakes, 2/25/92)
  6. Cooling [5:09] (Spark EP, 4/20/98)
  7. Mr. Zebra [1:17] (album cut from Under the Pink, 2/1/94)
  8. Cloud on My Tongue [4:58] (album cut from Under the Pink, 2/1/94)
  9. Sugar [5:10] (China EP, 1/20/92)
  10. Little Earthquakes [7:37] (album cut from Little Earthquakes, 2/25/92)
  11. Space Dog [5:46] (album cut from Under the Pink, 2/1/94)
  12. The Waitress [10:24] (album cut from Under the Pink, 2/1/94)

All songs written by Tori Amos.

Total Running Time: 75:32

Rating:

2.957 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Originally intended as a rarities collection to tide fans over until she completed the follow-up to From the Choirgirl Hotel, the double-disc To Venus and Back mutated into something entirely different as Tori Amos worked on it. She experienced a sudden creative burst, writing 11 new songs. In light of these new tunes, she decided to devote the first disc of the collection to the fresh material, with the second dedicated to live material recorded during 1998.” AMG

“It provides an interesting contrast. With Choirgirl, she decided to add muscle to her music by working with a full band, which naturally transformed her fragile, intimate songwriting into something weightier, or at least heavier. That much is evident from the live album, Still Orbiting, which puts many old favorites in a new light.” AMG

“The first disc, titled Venus Orbiting, proves that Amos is better in a more intimate setting. Ironically, the album was recorded with her touring band, but the arrangements aren’t as showy as the live reworkings, and her songwriting is a bit more straightforward. That’s not to say that she has changed direction or ironed out all her quirks – her lyrics remain almost impenetrably cryptic, her songs follow elastic, unpredictable structures – but she has returned to her strengths: namely, concentrating on ethereal, dream-like song-poems. She’s still expanding her music, but she’s letting it breathe naturally, resulting in her best, most cohesive record since Under the Pink. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s married to the live album, since that gives the impression that both discs are for hardcore fans. That's not the case at all –Venus Orbiting will likely win back fans that have strayed from the fold in the past few years.” AMG

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First posted 6/3/2022.

Tuesday, September 7, 1999

Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs released

Last updated 11/19/2020.

69 Love Songs

Magnetic Fields


Released: September 7, 1999


Peak: -- US, 170 UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Genre: indie pop/alternative rock


Disc 1: 1. Absolutely Cuckoo 2. I Don’t Believe in the Sun 3. All My Little Words 4. A Chicken with Its Head Cut Off 5. Reno Dakota 6. I Don’t Want to Get Over You 7. Come Back from San Francisco 8. The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side 9. Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits 10. The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be 11. I Think I Need a New Heart 12. The Book of Love 13. Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long 14. How Fucking Romantic 15. The One You Really Love 16. Punk Love 17. Parades Go By 18. Boa Constrictor 19. A Pretty Girl Is Like... 20. My Sentimental Melody 21. Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing 22. Sweet-Lovin’ Man 23. The Things We Did and Didn’t Do

Disc 2: 1. Roses 2. Love Is Like Jazz 3. When My Boy Walks Down the Street 4. Time Enough for Rocking When We’re Old 5. Very Funny 6. Grand Canyon 7. No One Will Ever Love You 8. If You Don’t Cry 9. You’re My Only Home 10. (Crazy for You But) Not That Crazy 11. My Only Friend 12. Promises of Eternity 13. World Love 14. Washington, D.C. 15. Long-Forgotten Fairytale 16. Kiss Me Like You Mean It 17. Papa Was a Rodeo 18. Epitaph for My Heart 19. Asleep and Dreaming 20. The Sun Goes Down and the World Goes Dancing 21. The Way You Say Good-Night 22. Abigail, Belle of Kilronan 23. I Shatter

Disc 3: 1. Underwear 2. It’s a Crime 3. Busby Berkeley Dreams 4. I’m Sorry I Love You 5. Acoustic Guitar 6. The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure 7. Love in the Shadows 8. Bitter Tears 9. Wi’ Nae Wee Bairn Ye’ll Me Beget 10. Yeah! Oh, Yeah! 11. Experimental Music Love 12. Meaningless 13. Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin 14. Queen of the Savages 15. Blue You 16. I Can’t Touch You Anymore 17. Two Kinds of People 18. How to Say Goodbye 19. The Night You Can’t Remember 20. For We Are the King of the Boudoir 21. Strange Eyes 22. Xylophone Track 23. Zebra


Total Running Time: 172:03

Rating:

4.514 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“As the sprawling magnitude of its cheeky title suggests, 69 Love Songs is Stephin Merritt’s most ambitious as well as most fully realized work to date, a three-disc epic of classically chiseled pop songs that explore both the promise and pitfalls of modern romance through the jaundiced eye of an irredeemable misanthrope. A true A-to-Z catalog of touchingly bittersweet love songs that runs the gamut from tender ballads to pithy folk tunes to bluesy vamps, the sheer scope of the record allows all of Merritt’s musical personas to converge – the regular use of guest vocalists recalls his work as the 6ths, the romantic fatalism suggests the Gothic Archies project, and the stately melodies evoke the Future Bible Heroes.” JA

“The album was originally conceived as a music revue. Stephin Merritt was sitting in a gay piano bar in Manhattan, listening to the pianist’s interpretations of Stephen Sondheim songs, when he decided he ought to get into theatre music because he felt he had an aptitude for it. ‘I decided I’d write one hundred love songs as a way of introducing myself to the world. Then I realized how long that would be. So I settled on sixty-nine. I’d have a theatrical revue with four drag queens. And whoever the audience liked best at the end of the night would get paid.’” WK

“The variety of 69 Love Songs also derives from the many song genres that Merritt raids and filters through his own sensibility. Merritt has said ‘69 Love Songs is not remotely an album about love. It’s an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love.’ Some of the genres are obvious, as in the songs Punk Love, Love Is Like Jazz, World Love and Wi’ Nae Wee Bairn Ye’ll Me Beget.” WK

“Other songs indirectly reference some of Merritt’s favorite artists, including Fleetwood Mac (No One Will Ever Love You), Cole Porter (Zebra), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits), The Jesus and Mary Chain (When My Boy Walks Down the Street), Billie Holiday (My Only Friend), and Irving Berlin (A Pretty Girl is Like...).

“Another way of understanding 69 Love Songs is through Merritt’s praise of an artist (Laurie Anderson) who ‘write[s] heartbreaking melodies with words that make fun of heartbreaking melodies.’ Consider Yeah! Oh, Yeah! where Stephin and Claudia, playing jilted lovers modeled closely on Sonny & Cher, sing their complaints to one another, overplaying and overstating their grievances such that their words become garish declarations of woe (‘what a dark and dreary life / are you reaching for a knife?’) to which the other character isn’t really capable of responding but must still follow in tone (‘yeah, oh yeah’). The lack of a firm distinction between content (what is sung) and form (the way it is sung) implies that this couple lives and dies by virtue of how persuasively they can sing to one another, and illustrates the persistent Magnetic Fields songwriting device of trapping a character within the conventions or formalities of a genre.” WK

“Several of the songs bend genders as well as genres. For example: a man sings ‘He’s going to be my wife’ (‘When My Boy Walks Down the Street’) and ‘the princess there is me’ (Long-Forgotten Fairytale). Other common themes include place names (e.g. Washington, DC; Lower East Side; North Carolina; Paris; Venice), animals (e.g. bear, goldfish, jellyfish, rabbit, bat, dog, boa constrictor, cockroach), as well as themes common throughout Merritt’s work (e.g. the moon, dancing, rain, and eyes).” WK

“Naturally, given a project of this size there’s the occasional bit of filler, but all in all, 69 Love Songs maintains a remarkable consistency throughout, and the highlights (I Don’t Believe in the Sun, All My Little Words, Asleep and Dreaming, Busby Berkeley Dreams, and Acoustic Guitar, to name just a few) are jaw-droppingly superb.” JA

“The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, however – for all of Merritt’s scathing wit and icy detachment, there’s a depth and sensitivity to these songs largely absent from his past work, and each one of these 69 tracks approaches l’amour from refreshing angles, galvanizing the love song form with rare sophistication and elegance.” JA “Despite its three-hour length, the music boasts the craftsmanship and economy that remain the hallmarks of classic American pop songwriting, a tradition Merritt upholds even as he subverts the formula in new and brilliant ways.” JA


Notes: This was also released as three separate albums.

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