Monday, September 01, 2003

In the early 70s, Vancouver musician Hans Fenger decided to get a real job. His girlfriend was pregnant, and he couldn’t raise a family on earnings from club gigs and guitar lessons. He got a teaching certificate and a job in the Langley school district. He found some common ground with his students by teaching them what he knew—rock songs. He had no idea what he was doing, but with the encouragement of some colleagues, he soon found himself in charge of multi-school children’s choirs belting out the hits of yesterday and today. Their set list included lots of Beach Boys and McCartney (Beatles and Wings), a bit of Bowie, Neil Diamond, The Eagles and Klaatu, all set to arrangements that Fenger adapted to acoustic guitar, piano, snare drums, cymbals, and bells.

God only knows what the parents in Langley thought of school concerts consisting of “Space Oddity” and “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.” The choir and their hip repertoire must have become a pretty big deal, because Fenger recorded the choir twice (in 1976 and 1977) by setting up a reel-to-reel and a couple of mikes in an empty gymnasium, without the distractions of expectant families and friends. He used the tapes to press a few hundred records for the kids and their parents.

25 years later Bar None Records compiled and released these singular documents as Innocence and Despair: The Langley Schools Music Project. I read a lot of press on it when the CD was released (what with the local angle and all), but now that I’ve heard it, it’s as wondrous as the hype proclaimed.

It’s a strange experience to hear the songs stripped down to just a vocal line and some faint, disembodied accompaniment (except for the drums, which are loud and occasionally random!). None of the songs suffer for it, they just become…something else.

I only intended to listen to the first couple songs when I first put it on last weekend, but I ended up listening to the whole thing in one go. For the belter, it made the Beach Boys acceptable. For me, it made me realize that Alan Partridge may be right: perhaps Wings were the band the Beatles could have been.

Two solo performances on the CD are worth noting. Joy Jackson sings “The Long and Winding Road”—this kid is totally the best singer in her school, as I was heard to remark when I first heard it. You know how there's always that one kid who's famous schoolwide for her/his one thing? That was Joy and her Beatles song, I bet. A few tracks later, Sheila Behman takes on The Eagles’ “Desperado” in amazingly poised fashion. I can’t stomach most solo kid singing, especially these days when young singers adopt that modulated and nasal faux-R&B style, patterned after the shite that drips out of their TVs. But these kids’ voices are so plain, clean and honest, it’s a minor revelation. They just sing the songs using their own voices. How radical.

I intended to write only a couple paragraphs about this album, and things got out of hand as usual. If you’re in Vancouver/Burnaby you can get this CD at the library, so pick it up and hear it for yourself (I hear they've pressed so many that they're selling them too. If you're feeling adventurous and flush, visit your local CD retailer). You can then formulate your own take on Innocence and Despair and safely disregard all of the above…if you haven’t already.

4 comments:

a said...

Generic Viagra
Online Generic Viagra
buy generic viagra cialis
Buy generic viagra cialis propecia
Buy generic cialis tadalafil
Generic cialis
Tadalafil
Buy generic viagra sildenafil
Generic viagra
Sildenafil
Propecia
Finasteride
Vardenafil
generic levitra
Buy generic levitra

dhd said...

This momentousdecree wow gold came as a great beacon gold in wow light of hope buy wow gold to millions of negroslaves wow gold kaufen who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.maplestory mesos it came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night ofcaptivity.but one hundred years later,maplestory money we must face the tragic fact thatthe negro is still not free.maple money one hundred years later,sell wow gold the lifeof the negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles ofsegregation and the chains of discrimination. one hundred yearslater,maple story money the negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in themidst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.wow powerleveling one hundred yearslater,maple story power leveling the negro is still languishing in the corners of americansociety and finds himself an exile in his own land. so we havecome here today to dramatize wow powerleveln an appalling condition.in a ms mesos sense we have come to our nation''s capital to cash a check.when the architects of our republic wow powerleveln wrote the magnificent wordsof the constitution and the declaration of independence, theywere signing a promissory note maplestory power leveling to which every american was tofall heir.

drmark said...

For many causes of erectile dysfunction, managing the underlying illness will play a significant role in

improving sexual function. Though, in a few of the cases, generic viagra

cialis
can assist with sexual activity .Viagra works on the muscles in your penis that assist control the

blood flow. During ones youth there is often little control viagra

professional
over these muscles which results in ill-times erections would, as a man ages he gains

control over the muscles but that control can falter and cause the inability to obtain or maintain an

erection. http://www.vanusapro.com

Deb said...

hans is currently in a band called the groovy gurus. they're pretty awesome!