Mondeo Pop Month: The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
Released: March 1985
UK chart position: #15
From the album: The Dream Academy
The first time Mondeo Pop became a standard? My last.fm account keeps telling me that Frank Sidebottom is playing this year’s Bizarre Magazine ball, alongside our old muckers Lucha Britannia and some other faggots. He has covered “Life In A Northern Town“. It’s pretty funny, in an 80s student irony way. American country superstars Sugarland, who nobody in the UK has never heard of because we don’t have TOTP2 anymore complete with Steve Wright going “Just before we go, here’s The Be Good Tanyas or someone like them” at the end of every episode, have covered “Life In A Northern Town“. Their version is basically proof that white people don’t have anything positive left to contribute to society in 2009 (also lol blonde perm, don’t they have stylists in Buttfuck, Tennessee?). Crewe’s finest, Dario G, sampled it for “Sunchyme“, and as Youtube commenter “OCPrunsthecops” rightly says, “I heard this in Toys R Us years ago”.
The point I’m trying to get across here is that “Life In A Northern Town” had a greater life outside of local radio playlists. It made it to America. It got covered by bands in school halls hoping for greater things. It got sampled and remixed and soundtracked and licensed. And then, like the prodigal son, when it realised that it was all said and done, it came right back home, plonked its arse down, and got on with the job of entertaining the daytime radio masses again. I think that’s kind of admirable, like the footballer whose career is over and goes back to working on the docks or factory floors he would have done anyway if he hadn’t made it. Mondeo Pop is working man’s music. How many times do we have to hammer this point home?
“Life In A Northern Town” still makes me feel weird, anyway, to the point where I have to wonder if I was molested as a child when it was playing in the background. It’s just so weirdly other-worldly for what is, effectively, just an “I’ll Be Missing You” with Nick Drake substituted for the Black Frank White, and somehow even worse lyrics. I’m expecting the comments box here to tell me which shitty album filler rap tracks sample this… I’m thinking there was probably a K-Os track? “Life In A Town Where Racism Is A Serious Thing We Can All Overcome If We Play The Acoustic Guitar”, or something.