Dream Academy – The Morning Lasted All Day (review)

Dream Academy – The Morning Lasted All Day (Real Gone Music) review

Orchestrated melodic pop with cameos from David Gilmour, Johnny Marr & Lindsey Buckingham

In the winter of 1986, while Whitney Houston and Billy Ocean were ruling the airwaves, a curious single from a new English band, the Dream Academy, began climbing the charts.  The song, “Life in a Northern Town,” with its wistful verses and pounding, African wordless choruses, managed to lodge itself at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The Morning Lasted All Day, a new, two-disc anthology, goes along way toward showing that the band was a lot more than just their one, massive smash.

In fact, there’s really a great deal to enjoy here – The sultry “The Love Parade,” and the melodic “The Edge of Forever” are both standouts from their debut album.  “Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” takes a morose Smiths’ song and turns it into a gorgeous ballad, featuring singer Nick Laird-Clowes’ yearning lead vocals, and Kate St. John’s ethereal backup singing and oboe.  It really is one of the few Smiths’ covers that actually works.  The Crowded House-esque “Ballad in 4/4” shows off their jangly side.  Featuring real drums and guest guitar from the Smiths’ Johnny Marr, it’s one of the finer moments on their followup album, Remembrance Days.

The band managed to always keep good company:  Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour co-produced many tracks, and even lent his guitar work on several songs, especially apparent on “It’ll Never Happen Again” from their final album, A Different Kind of Weather.  “Indian Summer” was an attempt to recapture the essence of their first hit, copping the nostalgic vibe and chanting chorus.  Co-produced by none other than Lindsey Buckingham, it amazingly failed to chart.

For only really having one hit, the band had a knack for getting included on big movie soundtracks of the time – both the aforementioned “Edge of Forever” and “Please Please” were featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day off, while “Power to Believe” was played throughout the John Candy / Steve Martin comedy “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.”

Since two of the band’s three albums are out of print, it’s nice to have this material made available again.  There’s also a few treats for devoted fans – some unreleased tracks, an alternate, instrumental version of “Power to Believe,” and a brand new track called “Sunrising.”

At their best, the Dream Academy’s music had the ability to transport you to faraway places.  The Morning Lasted All Day is fine testament to an underrappreciated band.  —Tony Peters