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iconCounterpoint
The Langley Schools Music Project:
Innocence and Despair
The Langley Schools Music Project
  • Bar/None Records
    AHAON-122
    $15.99

1. Venus and Mars/Rock Show (Paul McCartney & Wings)
2. Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)
3. God Only Knows (The Beach Boys)
4. Space Oddity (David Bowie)
5. The Long and Winding Road (The Beatles)
6. Band On The Run (Paul McCartney & Wings)
7. In My Room (The Beach Boys)
8. I'm Into Something Good (Earl-Jean/Herman's Hermits)
9. Saturday Night (Bay City Rollers)
10. I Get Around (The Beach Boys)
11. Mandy (Barry Manilow)
12. Help Me, Rhonda (The Beach Boys)
13. Desperado (The Eagles)
14. You're So Good To Me (The Beach Boys)
15. Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
16. To Know Him Is To Love Him (Teddy Bears)
17. Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac)
18. Wildfire (Michael Martin Murphy)
19. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft
(The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)
(Klaatu/The Carpenters)


The Langley Schools Music Project is a 60-voice chorus of rural school children from western Canada, untrained but captivated by melodic magic, singing tunes by the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, The Bay City Rollers, and others. The students accompany themselves with the shimmering gamelan chimes of Orff percussion, and elemental rock trimmings arranged by their itinerant music teacher, Hans Fenger.

These 1976-77 recordings, captured on a 2-track tape deck in a school gymnasium, weren't staged to achieve money or fame, to sell albums or land a record contract. These kids played music because they loved it. Innocent, flawed and bittersweet, guided by Fenger's unsuspecting genius, these recordings deserve to be heard and preserved. They brim with charm and youthful élan, sparked by flashes of lo-fi Spectorian majesty and Pet Sounds subtlety. Call it folk art, outsider, or campfire rock -- the labels don't matter. These are gorgeous, heavenly artifacts. Period.

These recordings were originally contained on two 12" LPs, pressed exclusively for the students, their classmates, teachers, and parents. They were never intended for exposure outside the provincial Langley region. But after they came to the attention of Irwin Chusid, the Songs in the Key of Z author and record producer vowed to make these recordings commercially available. He forged a licensing/trustee agreement with the Langley School administrators, and with the blessings of Hans Fenger and several former student soloists who were located, these priceless recordings have now been introduced to the rest of the planet.

The recordings were newly remastered and CEDAR-cleaned, and reverberate with an astonishing range of fidelity.

The package includes a 16-page full-color booklet chronicling the development of the recordings; personal reminiscences from Hans Fenger; photos from the original LP covers; and colorful sidelights. ©Bar/None; Basta Music


"A remarkable achievement, which captures the beauty of the pop songs in unpredictable ways. Even with warbled harmonies and rudimentary musical accompaniment, the young students somehow bypass the hurdle of skill to get to the pure heart of the songs."

--Chicago Tribune

"Last month, I heard David Bowie's 1969 glam-rock classic 'Space Oddity' as if for the first time. I'd heard the song on the radio before, of course; however, coming as it did, not from Mr. Bowie but from a choir of elementary school kids in a remote farm community in northern Canada, this was something new. Orchestrated in the late 1970's by a hippie music teacher named Hans Fenger, the scratchy recording sounded like a document of a clandestine event, as if Mr. Bowie's song had been co-opted for a cult ceremony. The lyric of the song's wayward astronaut, "For here/ Am I sitting in my tin can/ Far above the moon," never resonated so genuinely. 'Innocence and Despair' exists outside just about everyone's cultural radar. [The album is] mysterious and haunting in its hermetic vision."

--New York Times

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