Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Dream Academy

Somewhere to the left of alternative music and to the right of new age lies The Dream Academy. Best known for Life In A Northern Town with the chorus similar to The Lion Sleeps Tonight it was one of the better songs of 1985, the year of We Built This City, Take On Me and Broken Wings.  But they got points for having David Gilmour taking a liking to them and producing their first album.

While Nick Laird-Clowes is the leader, it was Katie St. John that was MVP with her multi intstruments in tow and shaping up the sonic landscape of this band (let's not forget Gilbert Gabriel too) which made the first album a good listen. Their best album was Remembrance Days, which Lindsay Buckingham helped co produce (with Hugh Padgham (Genesis, XTC)) and does a fairly good cover of Everybody Gotta Learn Sometime. Gilmour returns to co production on A Different Kind Of Weather and the choice of cover was John Lennon's Love.  The record was kinda underwhelming and probably the least of the three Dream Academy releases out there.  Gabriel and St. John moved on to other things, Kate being the more out front by helping Van Morrison on some of his albums and Marianne Faithful.

There hasn't been a best of Dream Academy in the US, a import came about and added some remixes and a couple non LP tracks but as overview disappoints.  Real Gone in 2014 compiled the first ever Best of in the states and adds a new song and a few more outtakes with David Gilmour on guitar.  Laird-Clowes' version of what he thinks is the best moments, The Morning Lasted Forever (the original title of Life In A Northern Town before Paul Simon suggested to change it to something more accessible)  makes a good sampler. But a cheaper alternative would be to search out the three albums and make your own copy.  I think overall, The Dream Academy was one of the more unique bands of the 80s, they were not as annoying as Mr Mister or A Ha or as dated sounding of said bands.  I also think they were more of an album band   And like the previous band reviewed here The Judybats, the female in the band was the one that gave the band their I.D. With Kate St John,  she made the band have that original sound.

The Dream Academy (Warner Bros 1985) B
Remembrance Days (Reprise 1987) B+
A Different Kind Of Weather (Reprise 1990) B-
The Morning Lasted Forever (Real Gone 2014) B+


  1. Hey Crabby -- I think the Dream Academy's first album has a GREAT first side, and "Bound to Be" is a good second-side-opener. But by the time I get to "The Love Parade" I just drift off. "Life in a Northern Town" was my son's absolute favorite song in the whole world when he was 2. He called it "Hey-ma-ma-ma."
    "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" seems like a REALLY GOOD choice for a cover song for these guys -- guess I'll have to check out REMEMBRANCE DAYS or a best-of. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Hi Tad!

    As much as I like the classic rock bands, I do have a fondness for the latter day ones that come and don't get mentioned much. It was easy getting all three Dream Academy albums for under 5 dollars. The second side of the S/T album made pleasant background music and nothing more. Life In A Northern Town was a change of pace on the radio, nothing else sounded like it. That song also made the Pure Moods Compilation 2 album but I don't consider them to be new age at all.

    Remembrance Days, they couldn't give that album away back then, but it seems to be more sought after album judging from the prices I see on Amazon and Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime is not on the best of. I also think it's their best overall album myself since having Lindsay Buckingham around inspired them a bit. Different Kind Of Weather is spotty. The Best Of is a decent overview and since Nick L.C. compiled and did the liner notes it gets the benefit of the doubt. Best bet is to keep your eyes open in the bargain bins for the first two albums ;)