This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
Remember junior high music class? Amid the stuffy matrons and sniffy conductors, there was always one cool teacher — a hip, young teacher who understood that John and Paul were as important as John Philip Sousa.
Back in the ’70s, Hans Fenger was obviously the cool guy in Langley, B.C., teaching his students to play David Bowie and Brian Wilson instead of Bach. And he was smart — or crazy — enough to capture the proceedings for posterity and release them on vinyl LPs at the time. Now, those cuts have been reissued on the 19-track Innocence and Despair, a bizarro CD that’s become a cult hit in underground circles. No wonder. On one hand, it’s hilarious to hear these undertalented kids mangle pop classics like Good Vibrations and Band On The Run with amateur guitar strumming, wildly off-time percussion and naive glee-club vocals. On the other hand though, it’s also oddly uplifting — Fenger contributes some truly inventive arrangements, and whatever the kids’ talent, the sheer joy they obviously feel making music infuses every note here. Ultimately, Innocence and Despair is as fascinating and charming as an old yearbook.