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

Just Posted

A Tribe Called Red, Tanya Tagaq among artists featured in Indigenous music film

When They Awake coming to Stan Hagen Theatre for one night

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Comox connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

Laine scores 3 as Jets double Canucks 6-3

Injury-riddled Vancouver side drops sixth in a row

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

Outreach group ordered to stop feeding homeless on City of Parksville property

City issued Manna Homeless Society cease and desist order after complaints from public

Victim’s girlfriend testifies on first day of 2016 Chemainus murder trial

“I was soaked in blood from the neck down”: witness

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

Most Read