Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Salvation Army Band Played...

British pop-rock trio The Dream Academy are often given the tag of one hit wonders but it’s fairer to say they scored twice on the pop charts. The song they are most remembered for is the brilliant ‘Life In A Northern Town’ which was a global hit during 1985. Co-produced by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, the song echoed the style of the Mamas And The Papas, and featured an exquisite multi-layered vocal chorus - ‘California Dreaming’ English winter style, along with very evocative nostalgia laden lyrics.

Taken from the trio’s self-titled debut album, ‘Life In A Northern Town’ climbed to #15 in the U.K., but was a bigger hit internationally, taking The Dream Academy to #4 in Australia and #7 in the U.S. The song was written as an elegy to fallen singer Nick Drake. ‘Life In A Northern Town’ also featured one of the coolest and most played promo videos of 1985.

By comparison the album performed modestly on the charts but the trio of Nick Laird-Clowes (vocals/guitar, ex-Act), Gilbert Gabriel (keyboards/vocals) and Kate St. John (vocals/woodwind/piano, ex-Ravishing Beauties) would march into the charts one more time with their second single. ‘The Love Parade’ lacked the enduring pop lustre of ‘Life In A Northern Town’, but was still a classy little number and racked up some decent chart stats - U.K.#68, U.S.#36 & OZ#76.

The Dream Academy released their sophomore effort ‘Remembrance Days’ in 1987, but the album failed to draw significant attention and the group decided to take an extended sabbatical thereafter. They re-emerged in 1991 with a comeback album of sorts entitled ‘A Different Kind Of Weather’, but sadly The Dream Academy couldn’t recapture the magic inherent in ‘Life In A Northern Town’ and subsequently went their separate ways.

Of the trio, Kate St. John went on to tour and record with Van Morrison, was a member of the group Channel Light Vessel with Roger Eno and Bill Nelson, and released two solo albums with 1995‘s ‘Indescribable Night’ and 1997‘s ‘Second Sight’. Kate also contributed vocals to a number of artists work including Toni Childs and Blur. Gilbert Gabriel released two 12” singles in the early 90s with a project called The Color Of Love. Nick Laird-Clowes has continued writing music and has collaborated with the likes of David Gilmour and Brian Wilson, and has also recorded under the name Trashmonk.

The Dream Academy may not have stood the test of time as a group, but with ‘Life In A Northern Town’ they left the legacy of an enduring dream-pop classic. Some of you might recall hearing the chorus chant sampled in the 1997 Dario G. dance hit ‘Sunchyme’. I prefer to lose myself in the all encompassing enchantment offered by the original.

1 comment:

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