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JULEE CRUISE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Floating into the Night (Warner Bros.) 1989

In 1985, Iowa native Julee Cruise was a talent scout for soundtrack composer Angelo Badalamenti when he began working with David Lynch on Blue Velvet. She fit the spacey-baby-doll sound the director wanted, and wound up recording "Mysteries of Love" — lyrics by Lynch and music by Badalamenti — for the movie. The song set a format which the three have repeatedly explored: on Cruise's album, her appearances on Twin Peaks, an inane "avant-garde" stage production and home video (Industrial Symphony No. 1) and the Twin Peaks soundtrack LP, which contains three tracks lifted directly from Floating into the Night. (Besides numerous film scores, Badalamenti — who had a minor hit in the '60s as Andy Badale and the Nashville Beer Garden Band — has written songs for George Benson, Patti Austin and others.) Admittedly, it's a supremely seductive sound, marrying walking bass lines to dark, enveloping film noir jazz and swelling strings, with Cruise's ethereal come-hither vocals cooing coolly through it all. As produced by the Lynch/Badalamenti songwriting duo, some of the tracks veer dangerously close to elevator music but others, like "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart," are truly idiosyncratic and contain moments of real drama.

[Wif Stenger]