The Dream Academy

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The Dream Academy
File:The Dream Academy.jpg
L-R: Nick Laird-Clowes, Kate St. John, and Gilbert Gabriel
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Folk rock, dream pop, new wave,[1] sophisti-pop
Years active 1983–1991, 2014
Labels Blanco y Negro, Reprise, Warner Bros.
Associated acts David Gilmour
Past members Gilbert Gabriel
Nick Laird-Clowes
Kate St John

The Dream Academy are an English folk rock, dream pop and sophisti-pop band, comprising singer/guitarist Nick Laird-Clowes, multi-instrumentalist (chiefly oboe, Cor Anglais player) Kate St John, and keyboardist Gilbert Gabriel. They are most noted for their hit single, "Life in a Northern Town".


Laird-Clowes and Gabriel met each other in the late 1970s whilst the former was in a band called The Act. Their idea was to create a songscape different from the power pop groups popular at the time in the UK, by mixing instruments and sounds that had been rarely done prominently before, such as strings, woodwinds, percussion (timpani), and synthesizers. At first, Laird-Clowes and Gabriel called themselves the Politics of Paradise.

Laird-Clowes met Kate St John (then of The Ravishing Beauties) at a party, and asked her to join. The trio settled on the name The Dream Academy and shopped their demos for nearly two years. Their work was rejected by every record label before finally landing a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1985.[citation needed] Along the way, they made some close connections with Adam Peters and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, a friend of Laird-Clowes. Gilmour would go on to produce and/or play on two of their albums and co-write one Dream Academy song, "Twelve-Eight Angel".

Their first single, "Life in a Northern Town" was a worldwide success and sizeable hit in the U.S., charting at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, from an album co-produced by Gilmour.[2] The song also made number 15 in the UK Singles Chart.[3] The single was dedicated to the English singer-songwriter Nick Drake. It was their only major chart success. Reportedly, their record label initially did not want to release this single.[citation needed] They thought it needed more drums but Laird-Clowes and Gabriel were staunch in their opinion that it was perfect.[citation needed] They commented on its unique sound, and feeling of a winter snowstorm created almost unintentionally by the amount of overdubbing onto the original recording. The song also was initially called "Morning Lasted All Day" but was changed when Paul Simon commented to Laird-Clowes (to whom he was giving songwriting lessons) that it was not a good title.[citation needed]

The band launched a worldwide promotional tour based on the chart success of "Life in a Northern Town" and appeared on the television programmes Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, American Bandstand (with Dick Clark), MTV (interview with J.J. Jackson), and Top of the Pops. The Dream Academy's eponymous debut album also reached a wide audience in the U.S. Their two subsequent albums did not match the initial success.[2]

They toured once, in 1991. During the same year, Gabriel and St John decided to leave the group to pursue solo musical interests and projects. Laird-Clowes ultimately decided that he would not go further under the Dream Academy name, and took some time off to travel to Asia and Africa. Shortly thereafter, he began to work with David Gilmour on lyrics for Pink Floyd's The Division Bell, before recording his solo album under the name Trashmonk. Lately, he has composed the music for and consulted on numerous film soundtracks (including Nick Broomfield's Battle For Haditha, Richard Curtis's About Time and Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers).[4]

All three members of the band remain active recording musicians, each with his or her own career. Kate St John performed with Van Morrison for many years and more recently has been musical director for Marianne Faithfull. Gabriel has also had numerous projects since, such as: The Believers, The Excellent Staircase, Melt21, and The Daze.[5]

"Life In A Northern Town" formed the basis of a dance remix by Dario G entitled "Sunchyme", released in 1997 to commercial success in Europe and was also recorded by U.S. bands Sugarland and Little Big Town in 2010, for which it was nominated for a Grammy Award. Also, a sample of "Life In A Northern Town" was the basis of Jakaranda's "Never Let You Go", released in 1998 as part of the soundtrack for Disney's "The Parent Trap."


Studio albums

Year Album details Peak chart
1985 The Dream Academy 58 20
1987 Remembrance Days 181
1990 A Different Kind of Weather
  • Release date: 1990
  • Label: Reprise Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Compilation albums

Year Album details
2000 Best of the Dream Academy
2014 The Morning Lasted All Day: A Retrospective[8]


Year Single Peak chart positions Album

1985 "Life in a Northern Town" 15 9 7 2 7 The Dream Academy
"The Edge of Forever"
"This World"
1986 "The Love Parade" 68 36 13 37
"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" 83 Ferris Bueller's Day Off (soundtrack)
"Indian Summer" Remembrance Days
1987 "The Lesson of Love"
"Power to Believe"
"In the Heart" Non-album song
1990 "Love" A Different Kind of Weather
1991 "Angel of Mercy"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

See also


  1. Billboard, November 26, 1994. Page 110.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Biography by Jason Ankeny". Retrieved 10 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 168. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Nick Laird-Clowes". Retrieved 6 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Gilbert Gabriel Music". Retrieved 6 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Chart Stats – Dream Academy". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Dream Academy Album & Song Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 14 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Morning Lasted All Day A Retrospective: Music". 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2014-08-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 2014-08-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "The Dream Academy Album & Song Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 14 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "The Dream Academy Album & Song Chart History: Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved 14 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "allmusic ((( The Dream Academy > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links