Ah Hey Oh Ma Ma Ma…*

In the last few days, I’ve rediscovered the music of The Dream Academy, a band which I had loved and forgotten (despite owning all three of their albums).

Few bands have been more aptly named. Paisley as could be, pictures of the classically-schooled trio made me think of the early ‘70s television series The Mod Squad.

(barely walking in tadpole pajamas during that show’s run, I vaguely remember being somewhat transfixed by Peggy Lipton)

And if the name The Dream Academy is unfamiliar…if you were listening to radio in the autumn of 1985, you likely know their song Life In A Northern Town (see here for a very cool performance by them on Saturday Night Live).

That song was pretty much all that most listeners ever heard from The Dream Academy which is unfortunate. I’ve always considered them to be a sadly overlooked act of the ‘80s and felt that, under different circumstances, they could have had more success.

(what those circumstances might be, I don’t know).

The group split after releasing their third album, A Different Kind Of Weather, in 1991 and for years their catalog was unavailable aside from pricey Japanese imports (of course, all Japanese imports tend to be pricey).

Curious about what lead singer Nick Laird-Clowes had been up to during the past decade and a half, I did a bit of research. He has been doing music, but another detail caused me to take notice.

Supposedly, he had fallen into serious drug addiction and, to become sober, he had sequestered himself in a monastery in the Himalayas.

Whether it is true or not, I have no idea. I do know that given their music and their style, if one band would have a member that would seek respite from drug addiction with Tibetan monks, it would certainly have been The Dream Academy.

It was just their vibe.

Here’s the song that made The Dream Academy a one-hit wonder and four more from their brief existence…

The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
from The Dream Academy (1985)

I remember hearing Life In A Northern Town on 97X amidst Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and The Suburbs and immediately taking notice. The tribute to the late Nick Drake, produced by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, was so striking.

By the time they chanted the first ah-hey-oh, ma-ma-ma…I was hooked and, twenty-five years later, I still never tire of the song.

The Dream Academy – The Edge Of Forever
from The Dream Academy (1985)

Aside from Life In A Northern Town, The Dream Academy has achieved a measure of immortality for The Edge Of Forever as the wide-eyed song plays during the kiss between Ferris and Sloan at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

The Dream Academy – This World
from The Dream Academy (1985)

This World is a song of lost innocence as dark as it is pretty (and it is very pretty).

The Dream Academy – Here
from Remembrance Days (1987)

As the members of The Dream Academy were classically trained musicians, there are a lot of flutes and such accenting much of their music. Here is simple and lush, building to a crescendo.

The Dream Academy – Love
from A Different Kind Of Weather (1991)

There are some folks who might consider covering John Lennon to be sacrilege, but his music has made for some inspired covers over the years (Marianne Faithfull’s take on Working Class Hero springs to mind).

The Dream Academy do an admirable version of Love, making it a joyous, trip-hop tinged, chant-filled romp.

10 Responses to Ah Hey Oh Ma Ma Ma…*

  1. Be sure to also check out the album Nick recorded with The Act – Too Late at Twenty is a real gem. Not readily available but can be found on vinyl or at various power-pop blogs.

    Thanks for the reminder of Dream Academy – will have to revisit them as it’s certainly been years since I gave them a spin.


    • barelyawakeinfrogpajamas says:

      I’ve seen The Act’s name mentioned over the years – more so during The Dream Academy’s brief moment – and never have seemed to get around to actually checking them out.

      (back it goes on the mental list)

  2. Dave says:

    I don’t remember that song in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I only remember the Smith’s cover.

  3. adrianqiana says:

    Always dug that first album, lots of mellow and melancholy tunes. The Love Parade was another favorite of mine, but I preferred the 45 remix.

    • barelyawakeinfrogpajamas says:

      I thought that their debut was their best album. However, I’m always surprised at how good their final album, A Different Kind Of Weather, was.

  4. Dave says:

    Scott, I downloaded The Act last night. Pretty good stuff.

  5. agedhipster says:

    “That song was pretty much all that most listeners ever heard from The Dream Academy which is unfortunate.”
    That’s why I appreciate the way things are now. Radio play is less important, and people tend to delve beyond the hit song on the album. The internet is not all bad!

  6. […] 1. The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town from The Dream Academy (1985) Ah Hey Oh Ma Ma Ma… […]

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