The first time I heard tracks from The Langley Schools Music Project (I believe this was in 2002 or so), it made me burst out crying. There were outside circumstances that day that had put me in a decidedly fragile emotional state (I had left the masters for a zine on top of my car and drove off, thus setting me back nearly eight months of labor), but it’s nonetheless a fact: I LOVE THE SOUND OF CHILDREN SINGING. Not like kid professionals, mind you… fuck that. Isolated exceptions notwithstanding, kids singing competently and pseudo-confidently are usually just evidence of a long history of parental abuse. I love the sound of real kids singing like real kids.
You can imagine, then, the rare and infinite joy that came to me when I found The Beat Goes On, an LP of unknown vintage recorded by the elementary school music program at Dicken Elementary School in my very own adopted hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Undiscovered (to my knowledge) by “outsider music” buffs, this is a great record of regular kids singing the songs of their day (or at least, I think it’s their day… like I said, unknown vintage), recorded and arranged in much the same fashion as the Langley Schools recordings. My copy doesn’t have cover art, so I can’t say for sure as to whether it looks as great as it sounds (thanks to my friends/former employers at Encore Records, who likely wouldn’t have bought this slightly beat-up, coverless record for the store if they didn’t know that I would definitely buy it).
I’ve never heard the original Langley Schools records, but I’ll concede that The Beat Goes On isn’t as consistent as the Innocence And Despair comp put out by Bar/None in 2001. However, I will also say this: the version of the Looking Glass hit “Brandy” included herein trumps every single track on that compilation, and if said track doesn’t make you smile, you’re a coldhearted, flinty-eyed asshole who’s definitively off my Christmas card list.
Just kidding. I don’t have a Christmas card list.