The Langley Schools Choir – the coolest grade school choir of all time!!

Okay, hands up. How many of you sang in your grade school choir or glee club? Yeah, I see your hands.

I’ve done it as well. And you have to agree with me, the song selection for all these choir recitals was whack. SERIOUSLY whack. I still have nightmares of singing “The Wells Fargo Wagon Is-a Coming Down the Street” in fifth grade choir at Veeder Elementary. Blecch.

Now what if you had the opportunity to sing the popular hit songs of the day… in your grade school choir… with a choir director who definitely had his ear tuned toward pop songs of the day… nice.

Such is what happened in the mid-1970’s, when a music director in the Langley school district of British Columbia had his students sing some very popular songs of the time. The sessions were recorded, and some vinyl LP’s were pressed and given to the students.

That was all well and good, until about 15 years ago, when a music archivist found the original recordings – and was blown away by the innocence and harmonies of these grade school choirs and their takes on the popular songs of the day.

For example… here’s the Langley School District choir performing that classic choir song, “Sweet Caroline.” And this was maybe 30, 40 years before the Fenway Park choir adopted it for their own, ha ha…

And yes, they can perform the Beach Boys as well. Check out their take on “God Only Knows.” Pretty impressive, eh?

Figure that the time period for these recordings is the mid-1970’s, and that would explain the Langley Schools Music Project’s take on Barry Manilow’s war-chestnut “Mandy.”

And how many other choirmasters out there would orchestrate soprano and alto parts for a David Bowie classic?

I tell you, if their performance of the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” was as energetic as the original, man this would have made a waycool sports anthem. It almost sounds like the kids are getting revved up to go off to gym for a killer game of dodgeball.

And some young soul got her very first solo performance, singing “The Long And Winding Road” accompanied by a piano that sounds like it’s on the other side of the auditorium.

And you may have heard these kids before – if you’ve ever seen the motion picture Catfish, the Langley Schools’ performance of “Good Vibrations” is part of the soundtrack.

Hey look, I’m not going to make fun of these kids. No way. These songs were recorded in earnest, and were probably only designed as audiophonic yearbooks, a chance for parents to hear their young sons and daughters in a school organizational setting. The fact that these recordings survived to this day – as well as the fact that these very performances have developed their own cult following – is nothing short of remarkable.

Heck, it’s an album I want to be buried with. If I have to listen to some Top 40 pop music, why not listen to it with a chorus of kids in a high school auditorium?  Especially if it means hearing this version of “Desperado.” Wow.