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The Dream Academy

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The appropriately named Dream Academy, an English folk-rock trio who hit it big in the early 1980s with the bucolic, Baroque pop single "Life in a Northern Town," formed in London in 1983 around the considerable talents of vocalist/guitarist Nick Laird-Clowes, multi-instrumentalist (primarily oboe) Kate St. John, and keyboardist Gilbert Gabriel. Having come from similar musical backgrounds (Clowes and Gabriel had worked together in the '70s while St. John had performed and recorded alongside Nicky Holland, and Virginia Ashley with the dream pop outfit the Ravishing Beauties, the newly minted Dream Academy settled into their signature blend of airy Paisley Underground-inspired psych-folk and ornate, English chamber pop right out of the gate. After a two-year period spent shopping demos, the band inked a deal with Warner Bros. and began work on their debut album. Co-produced by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who was a longtime friend of Clowes', the eponymous 1985 release yielded a trio of singles in the aforementioned "Life in a Northern Town," which was an elegy for the late English singer/songwriter Nick Drake, "The Love Parade," and the evocative "Edge of Forever," the latter of which made a memorable appearance near the end of the 1986 John Hughes comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off. 1987's Hugh Padgham-co-produced Remembrance Days, despite a handful of memorable titles like "Here," the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles-featured "Power to Believe," and the thunderous "Indian Summer," an admirable attempt at capturing the sonic grandeur of "Life in a Northern Town," failed to make much of an impact on the charts, and the band went into a period of seclusion. The trio emerged in 1991 with their third and final studio album, A Different Kind of Weather. Co-produced once again by David Gilmour (Clowes would eventually return the favor by contributing lyrics to a pair of songs on Pink Floyd's 1994 release the Division Bell), the album received some critical acclaim due to standout cuts like the Gilmour co-penned "Twelve-Eight Angel" and a propulsive, loop-driven cover of John Lennon's "Love," yet bubbled far enough under the radar that the trio would officially disband the following year. ~ James Christopher Monger

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