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

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Road trip comes to end with split for Grand Forks Border Bruins

The team is coming off its longest road trip this season.

Grand Forks to receive business recovery funds post-flood

The community will receive two Rural Dividends grants for a total of $655,000.

Grand Forks high school students remember

The school and the Legion joined for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Letter: English town remembers Grand Forks on anniversary of Armistice

Phillip Morris writes from Shrewsbury, England.

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’

B.C. connection to launch of new $10 bill

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

Elections BC keeps eye on Canada Post dispute, but no change in Nov. 30 deadline

Vote No spokesman say an extension of one or two weeks would ensure all ballots are counted

Langley school pulls Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag after student petition

School district promises consultation with students and parents, defends using flag for war history

Calgary bobsled death inquiry recommends infrared technology, safety audits

A judge found the deaths of 17-year-old twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell were accidental and caused by blunt-force head and neck trauma

First ski hill in B.C. opened this weekend

Sun Peaks, near Kamloops, was the first ski hill in the province to open for season

$50k fine and community service for Vancouver Island tax evader

David Gonyea was given a nine-month conditional sentence

B.C. fire chief learns from California fires

Chief Travis Whiting and Kelowna Fire Department learn from the devasting U.S. fires

Most Read