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This seems to be my week for re-living my early teenage years. Today I found myself trying to mellow out by listening to some Loose Ends, a trio from London. Their hit, "Hanging On a String" came out in 1985. At that time with my thirteen year old midwest mentality, I was surprised to find that they weren't from Chicago or New York. I don't think I'd yet realized that black people lived in parts of the world other than the United States and Africa.

The song iteself is such smooth R&B that it got played on both the late night "Quiet Storm" on the radio and at my high school dances. It's about someone who's being strung along by someone else. "You never told me you waiting, contemplating...with my heart." Haven't we all been there at one time or another?

I had a big crush on the brotha on the right side of the picture. Oh, he was hot back in the day...but look at those shoulder pads! I'm glad the song is a timeless classic, but goodness, those can definitely stay in the '80s.

Wasn't Robert Palmer the man?

He knew how to dress. He knew how to sing. He was well-mannered. He was just the essence of smooth...the kind of man American women probably think they are going to meet when they go to England.

Most people remember him as the singer of "Addicted to Love". Remember the video with the models dressed up and pretending to play the instruments? That was 1987 so maybe you don't. Just know that that video got more play on MTV back then than Justin Timberlake does now.

"Addicted to Love" although a great song, is not my favorite Robert Palmer track. Nope, not the stuff he did with Power Station either.

My favorite Robert Palmer song is actually from before all that. It's from 1983 and it's called, "You Are in My System." It's a cover of the song originally done by the R&B group the System. I think Robert's version is better. This is one of those songs that got rocked on WBMX in Chicago back in the day. Oh I have memories of hearing this while riding in the backseat of my dad's car on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Palmer was probably one of the first white artists to cross over to black radio. He wasn't trying to be "black" or "urban"though. And he knew what some artists today don't, that being black isn't about being hard, crude and vulgar.

The place I was at in a dream I had last night had "You Are in My System" playing. Today I just can't get it out of my mind. Palmer sings,

"Day by day and night by night
I feel you in my mind
It happens all the time
You know the day dreams stop
My heart beats on
I can’t take it any more
It's you I live for."

My thoughts exactly.

Unfortunately, Robert Palmer died three years ago at the age of fifty-four from a heart-attack. If you've never heard him before, take a listen. He won't disappoint. I promise.

"Put your hands up for Detroit, a lovely city," sings a male voice before the vocals fall away and we descend into a thumping electronic bassline.

"Put Your Hands Up For Detroit" feels more techno than house to me...Regardless of genre, it's the kind of record that makes the dancer seem more alive, lovelier, fresher. It's exactly the kind of track that would have had me dancing up on a table ten years ago at the old Shelter nightclub in Chicago.

Certainly, this ode to Detroit, the ancestral home of techno, is ridiculously catchy, even if I do think Fedde Le Grande, a DJ from the Netherlands, must not have spent a ton of time in Detroit if he believes it's a lovely city. Then again, it's been at least a decade since I was last there, so I could be wrong. Maybe it's changed...gentrification, "urban renewal" and all that.

In any case, my club days are pretty much over so I'll be rocking this while running at the park and driving through South-Central. Maybe Fedde will make a "Put Your Hands Up For Los Angeles"

Not sure how he'll describe this city though. Any ideas?

I've been listening to AFI for about seven or eight months now. They've been around for fifteen years and I'm only now discovering them. I suppose I'm one of those new fans that old fans hate. I'm a biracial thirty-something woman with no tattoos or piercings. Not necessarily the target audience, I'm sure.

It's hard to describe their current album, Decemberunderground. It's got a strong punk asthetic and there are definite '80s alternative influences, but it also has it's own distinctive sound. It's the kind of record that It's got such a range, great in the car, great in the gym, great while washing dishes. Definitely one of the best records of 2006.

So what's my favorite song on the cd? I found out by looking at my itunes play count that I've listened to The Interview a good 307 times. Those that know me would guess that I would love a song that's lyrics start out, "Forever waiting for disaster. What David calls servant and master,will you play it, too?".

This is a clear reference to one of my favorite Depeche Mode songs, "Master and Servant" sung by DM's lead singer, David Gahan. That alone would cause me to adore "The Interview", but there's also some quality to the song that strikes me in this weird, emotional place. It brings on the tears. I was recently telling a friend about how I like to listen to music while laying flat on my back in a dark room. No other sights or sounds visible...just listening to the music. "The Interview" is a great song for doing that.

"For a change I'll refrain from hiding all of me from you.
Here's my lullaby
Pray for rain, lose your name
And watch all your dreams fall through.
Hush now, don't you cry."

I know they said not to cry but I just can't help it. If you need a good cry, you need to hear "The Interview."

I haven't been reading my book, Last Voyage of the Valentina. Is it because it's boring or because I've been busy? Hmm...I worked 76 hours last week so I just haven't had time.

I did get some reading in though on the ride to Vegas. One of my colleagues brought a bunch of magazines along, namely, Cosmo, Glamour and Self. They all have tips on how to have great sex. Really great sex. The best sex of my life.

So, if everyone is reading these magazines, why do more women say they'd rather have a great night of sleep than sex?

Maybe everyone's not reading the articles about the mind-blowing sex that everyone else seems to be so fascinated with. Maybe women are really only concerned with appearance, you know, figuring out how to have great skin and hair and lose ten pounds...don't the editors think anyone ever wants to lose more than that?

I think I need to give my book another try. The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up after all so maybe I'll have some time later this week.

I'm going to Las Vegas for a work conference this weekend. I generally hate Sin City but now I can't help but have a few fond memories of the place. You see, last time I was there, I was at a Depeche Mode concert and I got to hear Nothing's Impossible played live.

Sometimes everyone, including me, needs a reminder, "Even the stars look brighter tonight, nothing's impossible."

This HAS to be the most depressing song ever made.

With a song title like Winter Kills, what can one expect? After all, it was created by Yaz, a group that was one half Vince Clarke. Vince was a founding member of Depeche Mode but quit before their second record was released. He then teamed up with bluesy singer Alison Moyet and they became Yaz. Unfortunately he left Yaz after a couple of albums... hey what kind of work history is that? Good thing he never had to explain why he was always job hopping to the average hiring manager at today's typical work you to the bone for pennies a day job.

In any case, over the twenty-four years since Yaz released their album, "Upstairs at Eric's" and my brother came home with it and popped it on the stereo, this song has been a true kill-joy for me.

I sadistically enjoy it.

The stripped down sound contrasts sharply with the electro-synth vibe of the rest of the record. It's an incredibly simple arrangement, only a piano and Alison's voice, dripping with emotion. Sometimes I just want to listen to it just to see if the tears will still roll out of my eyes when I hear the final lyrics.

"Pain in your eyes makes me cruel
Makes me spiteful
tears are delightful
welcome your nightfall
How winter kills."

If you are ever feeling just a tad too chipper, this one is for you. Definitely give Winter Kills a listen.

The Amalfi Coast seems to be everywhere these days. George Clooney has a villa there where his Ocean's 11-13 pals can come chill and let's not forget that TomKat was supposed to get married there too. It was also featured in one of those Travel channel shows the other day and after watching twenty minutes of the show, I wanted to move there. Who wouldn't want to live there or get married there? It's an exceptionally beautiful part of the world

Perhaps that's why last night, when I spied the cover of Santa Montefiore's novel, Last Voyage of the Valentina, I immediately picked it up and flipped it over to read the back:

"Exotically beautiful but desperately unhappy, Alba lives on a houseboat on the Thames, where she enjoys a life of leisure and entertains an endless and unfulfilling succession of lovers."

Hmm...I started to wonder, why is Alba so unhappy? Is she an unfulfilled trust-fund baby? Why does she have such a hard time picking a decent guy? I could care less about that kind of stuff but I kept on reading.

"But then she discovers a portrait of her dead mother, Valentina -- a woman she'd hardly known, whose story has been kept from her by her still grieving father."

Ok. A dead mother. Sounds like a mystery to me. There might be some international intrigue here! How did her mother die? Why doesn't her father talk about her mother? Maybe her mom was a spy of some sort?

"Determined to learn the truth about Valentina, Alba returns to the olive groves of the Amalfi coast of Italy.

The images of that travel show in my mind, I plunked down $15 for the paperback. I'm going to make a leap of faith here and guess that I'm going to see Alba solve some kind of mystery, find happiness and fall in love with a smokin' hot Italian guy.

We shall see!

I'm a renowned insomniac so how could I not love this song? I've been listening to Insomnia, a house record by Rodamaal pretty much nonstop for the past two weeks.

Rodamaal, pictured to the left, are a Franco-Portuguese trio. The song's Ame Remix, featuring Claudia Franco, on vocals is an intoxicating mix of old school deep house with a touch of trance thrown in.

The lyrics, sung in Portuguese, roughly translate as, "'Asleep but awake you prepare yourself for a dazzling moment. In the night you lose yourself. The wind gives way to your steps in your own rhythm and time. And if the lights go out that is because chance is over. Dazzling. Lost. Lost inside your sleepwalking." Once you start listening to this, you certainly won't be sleepwalking.

I'm going to guess you'll be energized enough to work it out on the dance floor, run a mile...or clean the house. Guess which one I do most?

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