Langley Schools Music Project - Innocence & Despair
There’s something so touching, real, genuine and earnest about children singing rock songs. Recently, PS22 out of Staten Island achieved national fame for their performances of current rock and pop songs. Just watch their version of Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” The raw emotion and feeling they have for the song is clear and magical. Even if they don’t completely understand the lyrical matter, they tap right into the heart of it.
You can hear all of this on Hans Fenger’s legendary recordings with 2 Canadian elementary schools in the mid 70’s. Fenger came to music teaching while trying to make it as a musician in the early 70’s. He took his love of rock music to the Glenwood and Wix-Brown Schools in Western Canada, near Vancouver, in 1974. He introduced popular songs by the likes of The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Wings, Neil Diamond and bizarrely, Klaatu. The recordings are rudimentary for sure but within the off-kilter rhythm, warbling voices and simplistic arrangements, something else comes out entirely. Led by Fenger on acoustic guitar, the kids capture a haunting honesty and a longing innocence that is simply nowhere to be found on a song like “Sweet Caroline.” Credit to Fenger for keeping things stripped down and to his sense of atmosphere. The group is recorded in a large space, with natural room sound, making it feel like you’re listening in to their school auditorium rehearsal. Whether it’s the jarring tremolo guitar and counterpoint vocals on “Space Oddity,” the exuberance and joy of “Help Me Rhonda” or the solo vocal spotlights of “Long And Winding Road” and “Desperado,” you’d be hard pressed to find another record with this level of authenticity.
Finally available after 15+ years of the original reissue being out of print, Bar None faithfully restores both records as a double LP with insert including notes by Fenger and producer and archivist, Irwin Chusid. Yes, this is ESSENTIAL. (Dom)
Check out a track here.