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Dream Academy

Dream Academy Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 5.99
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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragically Underappreciated June 2 2004
Format:Audio CD
I suppose 15 reviews would make my headline somewhat suspect (it's nice to know that there are other appreciators of good 1980's music out there), but almost twenty years later, I think it is accurate. "Life in a Northern Town" was, of course, a hit, but this band deserved and deserves far better than the "one hit wonder" label. The only other band from this time period I can think of that is as underappreciated as this one is, perhaps, Dead Can Dance.
Other reviewers have commented extensively on this music and what it sounds like. My personal relationship to this music is probably similar to the others; I heard the single on the radio, fell in love with it, and also completely dug the album cover. I bought it on the spot and finally wore it out a few years ago. One rarely sees photography of such artistic quality and precision on album covers anymore.
I've also purchased some of Kate St. John's solo work ("Indescribable Night") and enjoyed that as well. But what ever happened to Gilbert Gabriel?
Do yourself a favor and get the other albums as well. Each has its own flavor, although I think this record displays a mid 1980's art-pop idealism that best illustrates the ambitions behind this band.
The 1980's weren't all full of junk (and heavy metal). This proves it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Salvation Army band played.... April 6 2004
Format:Audio CD
"Life in a Northern Town" swept in like a breath of fresh air during the period when bands like the Thompson Twins and Human League were making dreamy sounding singles. There's a story that Dream Academy singer and writer Nick Laird Clowes, who had been fronting a punkish outfit called The Act, played a chorus for Paul Simon that basically went "Ah hey, ah ma ma ma away ah..." and Simon told him that if he could ever build a song around it, he'd have a hit.
Laird Clowes broke up The Act soon after their one album, "Too Late at 20" which featured bandmate Mark Gilmour, and decided to change directions. He teamed up with Gilbert Gabriel on keyboards and Kate St John on oboe and various other classical instruments to form the Dream Academy. Should Mark Gilmour's name strike you as a bit familiar, it's because he's the brother of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. That connection was enough to score David Gilmour's participation as Dream Academy's debut producer, and with his help, the atmospheric "The Dream Academy" was created.
Laird-Clowes had found the lyric he wanted to drape that infamous chorus across, an ode to tragic figure Nick Drake. The rest, as they say, is history. "Life in a Northern Town" became a sleeper hit and pulled Dream Academy's debut into both commercial and critical success. It also branded them with one hit wonder status, despite the fact that two other Dream Academy albums were chock full of similar fine songs. On this album alone, there were two other notable singles, in "The Love Parade," and (from the movie "Ferris Beuller's Day Off") the lovely "Edge of Forever." Also worth noting is the appearance of Peter Buck on the near Shakespeareanish tragic "The Party.
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Format:Audio CD
This is easily the best Dream Academy album made, and I wouldn't hesitate to include this in my favorite ten albmus of all time. But I'm not here to review this CD. I just wanted to let any serious fans of the Dream Academy know about two other projects that might be of interest, if only for the sake of trivia.
The first is "The Invisible Circus" film soundtrack--still available used here at Amazon. This was released around 2000, and the instrumental score (about 7-10 tracks) was composed by Nick Laird-Clowes. A few other Laird-Clowes originals are included under the guise of his recent band, Trashmonk. While the instrumental score tracks are fondly reminescent of the Dream Academy's folkish melodies, the Trashmonk songs are decidedly less relaxed (and didn't appeal much to me personally).
The other CD I wanted to note here is by a producer/DJ who goes by the name of Dario G. His CD, "Sunmachine," which is also available here at Amazon, is best described as pre-millennium electric anthems. It sounds a little like the music from Chicane's "Behind the Sun," only less trance-inflected. At any rate, the first track on "Sunmachine," is Sunchyme. This is only relevant on account of the song's base melody which derives heavily from Dream Academy's Life in a Northern Town, right down to the genuine inclusion of the chorus "Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma's." The original DA song isn't sampled quite enough for this to be a remix, but at the same time, Sunchyme contains so many elements of Life in a Northern Town, that it can't really be considered an altogether separate song. Anyone who might have heard this featured on a TV commercial for contact lenses a few years ago can now exhale. I, for one, am sleeping better now that I've found its source. The rest of Dario G's CD isn't bad either...given its age.
I hope this encourages someone out there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mellower, lyrical unique music from the 80's Jan. 21 2004
Format:Audio CD
In the middle of an era dominated by the likes of Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Def Leppard, and Prince, came a group that was kind of an anomaly to the mainstream of the 1980's. For one thing, the instrumentation of The Dream Academy defies the usual guitar, bass, drums format, it's a melange of something undescribable, with elements of classical, jazz, and acoustic sounds, and much of it deals with the bleakness of the post-industrial urban world and the crushing loneliness and bitter travails of life, all with a lyrical and poetic base.
From the bleak blowing wind effect, the gentle strains of guitars, Kate St. John's oboe, and that famed "Ah hey ma ma ma" chorus, comes the single that sadly relegated them to one-hit wonder status, "Life In A Northern Town." The lyrics give a bleak picture of the town and the sad departure of the storyteller in the song.
"The Edge Of Forever" is a longing romantic song about how we miss the closeness and security we needed as children but not given as adults. Singer Nick Laird-Clowes asks at one time, "When you were young, did you ever fall down, graze your knee and want to run to someone? 'Cause now that you're older, I've been falling down, I want to run to someone, but there's nobody around." It's nice and lyrical in the verses, which explodes in a crescendo with keyboards and cello in the chorus. This is the song played at the end of Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Matthew Broderick and Mia Sara kiss and part.
"(Johnny) New Light" details the loss of innocence and a longing for a more natural life, and what happens when technology in the form of tractors make harvesting the wheat easier. "We have nothing else to do" Laird-Clowes and the backup singers sing towards the end.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars The Dream Academy
This cd contains the 1985 single - Life in a Northern Town, which is a masterpiece. Beautifully composed and produced. Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2011 by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Top album from the golden year of '85
These 10 pretty tunes from the UK's Dream Academy reflect brilliantly the transient gloss of '80s pop. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2003 by Brad Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars For us to know and you to find out
One of the reasons I feel subconsciously attached to this band
would probably be the hellenic etymology of their name
(academy and dream / trauma are both ancient... Read more
Published on May 9 2002 by Lefteris Lalos
5.0 out of 5 stars The Trouble with Great Debuts...
Every band should dread producing their high watermark masterpiece with the first single. They are forever tagged and judged by it (a la the undeserved and unwanted 'one-hit... Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2002 by Secret Scribe
5.0 out of 5 stars Artsy Pop Pastiche
Perhaps their rich melodic style and soft yet piercing rhythms make for the perfect name they have...that which is Dream...Dreamy...Dreamlike. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2000 by Wilbur G.F.H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in a Northern Town
Life in A Northern Town is a song that brings me to beleive in all of the good times in my life. It makes me want to frolic in the jungles of africa, sing with the birds, gallop... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2000 by Blair
5.0 out of 5 stars What a dream I had . . .
It is truly a cultural crime of some sort that this album is now out of print in the United States. A wonderful throwback to a more innocent and dramatic time in music and hailing... Read more
Published on May 28 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time favorite
I bought The Dream Academy when it first came out. It is still one of my all-time favorite CDs. I've played it over and over again for 15 years or so and it still sounds great. Read more
Published on May 27 2000 by Steven Guccione
5.0 out of 5 stars In Places On The Run
There isn't a better song on this tremendous album than "In Places On The Run". Every song has a different meaning to me, beacuse I've played it thousands of times (when... Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2000 by Steve Pizzo
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