Monday, March 26, 2012

"Life in a Northern Town" by Dream Academy - March 26th 80's Quest Song/Band of the day

The Dream Academy formed in London, England. The band consisted of Nick Laird-Clowes (vocals, guitars), Kate St. John (oboe, and multi-instrumentalist), and Gilbert Gabriel (keyboards).
In the late 1970s Laird-Clowes and Gabriel were in a band together called The Act. They wanted to mix instruments and use sounds not usually heard in pop music like strings, synthesizers and woodwinds, so they started their own band originally called The Politics of Pop. Laird-Clowes attended a party where he met St. John (who was in a band called The Ravishing Beauties), and she decided to join the band. The three of them then changed the band name to The Dream Academy. The three members were very fond of the music from the late 1960’s because it was very experimental and daring. The demos they created were rejected by every record company they sent them to for nearly 2 years before Warner Brothers finally decided to sign them in 1985.
Their self-titled debut album, The Dream Academy was co-produced by David Gilmore of Pink Floyd (who knew Laird-Clowes). The first single was a tribute song to English singer Nick Drake called "Life in a Northern Town" – the song took off like a rocket and charted at #15 on the U.K. charts and even higher at #7 on the U.S. charts. Warner Brothers originally did not want to release this song as a single because they thought it needed more drums in it, but Laird-Clowes and Gabriel were adamant that this was the song that should be released.
The band was able to go on a worldwide tour based on the success of "Life in a Northern Town". They performed all over American television as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live, on MTV, and on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. In Britain they appeared on Top of the Pops. 
As it turned out, "Life in a Northern Town" was to be the only successful single Dream Academy had. Their next two albums 1987’s Remembrance Days and 1990’s A Different Kind of Weather did not sell well at all. The band did tour in 1991, but afterwards Gabriel and St. John decided to leave the band and work on solo projects. Eventually St. John joined Van Morrison’s touring band and became a sought after session musician performing with Julian Cope and Blur among others. Gabriel formed a band initially called Color of Love, but later hanged the name to Futura. Laird-Clowes took time off to travel in Southeast Asia and Africa. He struggled with drug abuse and went to stay at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas to get clean. Upon his return he began working with David Gilmore on lyrics for some songs on Pink Floyds 1994 album The Division Bell (including "Poles Apart" and "Take it Back"). Laird-Clowes also recorded a solo album called Mona Lisa Overdrive under the name Trashmonk, and open
All three members of The Dream Academy continue to record music. They recently reunited on a cover of The Smith’s song "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" which is to appear on Gabriel’s band, The Believers, album Angels and Fools.
These days Laird-Clowes works producing scores for movie soundtracks including The Invisible Circus and Fierce People (starring Diane Lane and Donald Sutherland), and he was a musical consultant on the film The Dreamers (on the DVD for this movie he can be seen in one of the extra featurettes talking about the music from this film). He also scored a documentary for Greenpeace called A Time Comes. He is working on a second Trashmonk album.
In 1997 "Life in a Northern Town" was sampled by Dario G for the chorus of his dance remix called "Sunchyme" which was successful in Europe. Laird-Clowes brought a successful lawsuit and won 80 percent of "Sunchyme’s" royalties.


A Salvation Army Band played
And Children drunk lemonade
And the morning lasted all day,
All day
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

They sat on the stoney ground
And he took out a cigarette out
And everyone else came down
To listen.
He said "In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And The Beatles."
Ah- hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
All the work shut down.

The evening had turned to rain
Watch the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down
To the station
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train pulled out of sight

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

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