“Life in a Northern Town” was a dreamy little song with a lush arrangement and the silky voice of Nick Laird-Clowes. The Dream Academy was an English musical trio of Laird-Clowes, Kate St. John and Gilbert Gabriel.
In 1985, they released their debut, The Dream Academy, produced by David Gilmour (Pink Floyd). “Life in a Northern Town” was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching number seven in America, with the album reaching number 20. Three other singles were released with the best of the bunch being “The Love Parade.” Interestingly, The Dream Academy had greater chart success in America than England.
What made The Dream Academy different from other bands of the era was Laird-Clowes’ distinctive voice and the careful arrangements, which remind one of stylized pop from the mid-1960’s with the use of orchestral instruments.
The group returned in 1987 with Remembrance Days, which featured “Indian Summer” and “Power to Believe,” both fine songs, written by Laird-Clowes and Gabriel, but they deliver a stunning cover of “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime,” previously recorded by The Korgis.
A Different Kind of Weather was their final album in 1990. While their final two albums did not produced a charting single, both albums feature very sophisticated pop. A Different Kind of Weather featured two covers, both outstanding. “Love” written by John Lennon, is as sensitive as the original. “It’ll Never Happen Again,” a Tim Harden cover, is perhaps the group’s best recording. It features a stunning arrangement, romantic yet sorrowful, with a great guitar solo by David Gilmour.
While the group has not recorded again, each member went on to solo careers. Laird-Clowes has periodically worked with Gilmour, he has mostly chosen a quieter path, releasing a solo album and contributing songs to other projects. Occasionally, a Dream Academy song will pop up in a film or TV show.
The Dream Academy made just a small ripple in pop music during their run but they recorded moving, delicately crafted pop songs.