Billboard #1s for the Week Ending January 11, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Say You, Say Me Lionel Richie 4
R & B Say You, Say Me Lionel Richie 1
Country Morning Desire Kenny Rogers 1
Adult Contemporary That’s What Friends Are For Dionne & Friends 1
Rock Silent Running Mike + the Mechanics 3
Album Miami Vice Soundtrack 10

dream-academy-northern-townThis week sees an unusual tribute enter the Top 40. Singer and guitarist Nick Laird-Clowes and keyboard player Gilbert Gabriel began recording together in the late 70s. They settled on an ethereal soundscape, eventually recruiting reed player Kate St. John and dubbing themselves the Dream Academy. They shopped around for two years, eventually landing at Warner Bros. with the help of Laird-Clowes’ friend, David Gilmour.

Their debut single was Life In A Northern Town, which moves from #46 to #38 this week, its seventh on the Hot 100. It’s a beautiful, haunting song, propelled by the strange magic of St. John’s reeds. The track eased up the charts, peaking at #7 in late February. The Dream Academy managed one more Top 40 hit and a bit of success in the UK before disbanding in 1991.

What makes Northern Town especially interesting is that it was dedicated to Nick Drake. Laird-Clowes was inspired by the late folk singer’s legacy years before the posthumous VW ad opened the floodgates for his legacy. With its low-key percussion and dreamlike delivery, the Dream Academy’s tribute could almost have appeared on Drake’s Bryter Layter.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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