VIDEO: B.C. students’ take on rock songs gets a re-release

Langley Schools Music Project ‘Innocence and Despair’ album inspired ‘School of Rock’ movie

When David Bowie heard the Langley Schools Music Project version of his hit “Space Oddity,” the rock star was an instant fan.

“The backing arrangement is astounding,” Bowie said.

“Coupled with the earnest if lugubrious vocal performance, you have a piece of art that I couldn’t have conceived of,” he added.

The 60-voice chorus of Langley students also covered tunes by the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Klaatu, The Bay City Rollers, and others.

Music teacher Hans Fenger arranged and conducted the 1976-77 recordings, which were captured on a two-track tape deck, then pressed on two 12” LPs, exclusively for the students, their classmates, teachers, and parents.

The albums would have remained in obscurity if it wasn’t for Brian Linds, a Victoria record collector, who found the first record in a thrift store in 2000.

That brought the albums to the attention of record producer Irwin Chusid, who set up a licensing agreement with the Langley school district administrators and oversaw creation of a CD compilation of the two LPs.

“Innocence and Despair” as it was called, made many end-of-the-year best album lists in 2001.

“The echoing, yelping renditions of this feel-good music gives off a powerfully aching melancholy, said music critic Steven Hyden.

“It’s the sound of youth, frozen on tape, as it fades inexorably away.”

This year, the two albums have been re-released for a second time on vinyl LPs by a U.S. record company that specializes in “outsider music.” The audio has been cleaned up and two bonus tracks with liner notes added.

“It was all kind of an amateurish project,” said Fenger, who estimates the initial album pressing cost about $40.

“Only 200 were pressed. Everything was one take in the gymnasium.”

He said he was hired as a music teacher even though he knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, because the Langley School district was desperate for teachers.

“I was in a rock and roll band,” he said.

“I was kind of a hippy.”

The Langley story has been cited as the inspiration behind the comedy film School of Rock, starring Jack Black.

Fenger said he hasn’t made any money off the film, which he noted has only a loose connection with his story.

“They’re both fish-out-of-water-tales.”

After his time teaching, Fenger said he went back to music, joined another rock and roll band, then retired.

He was happy to hear that the songs have been re-issued.

“It never stops.”

The songs from the project have been used in various film and TV projects:

“Good Vibrations” was licensed for the soundtrack of the film “Catfish.”

“Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” was used to close the film “Arabian Nights’’, Volume 3.[6]

“Space Oddity” was used in the closing of the film ‘’Wonderstruck’’.

Their version of “Rhiannon” was used in the closing credits of the HBO series ‘’Here and Now’’.

READ ALSO: New middle school named for Langley artist, music school founder



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Coastal GasLink repeats desire for meeting with hereditary chiefs

Coastal GasLink says they’re ready to meet with the hereditary chiefs at their convenience

Ranning Charlie acquitted of all charges

The charges included sexual assault

B.C. testing out solutions to prevent wildlife crashes

About 2,700 collisions occur each year in north-central B.C.

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Most Read