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Innocence And Despair

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Innocence And Despair album cover
01
Venus And Mars / Rock Show
2:47
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02
Good Vibrations
4:02
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03
God Only Knows
3:05
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04
Space Oddity
5:26
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05
The Long And Winding Road
3:49
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06
Band On The Run
4:07
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07
I'm Into Something Good
2:32
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08
In My Room
2:27
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09
Saturday Night
3:50
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10
I Get Around
1:49
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11
Mandy
2:40
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12
Help Me Ronda
2:15
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13
Desperado
3:35
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14
You're So Good To Me
2:49
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15
Sweet Caroline
2:59
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16
To Know Him Is To Love Him
1:49
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17
Rhiannon
3:52
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18
Wildfire
4:33
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19
Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft
5:22
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Album Information
EDITOR'S PICK

Total Tracks: 19   Total Length: 63:48

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Download tracks 5 & 13

BurntwoodFactors

The versions of "The Long and Winding Road" and "Desperado" surpass the originals. They are sung with such spooky purity that they send chills down my spine every time.

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top three

senatorbobdole

This is in my top three of all time. I can't totally put into words, but it really gets through to me on days when i feel pretty jaded. Something about hearing a gymnasium of kids singing really beautiful songs with all their hearts... it just feels like all the things you loved about being a kid. The version of "Desperado" is so fantastic. It beats Ronstadt's version, or any other version, hands down. The whole cd has this fantastic wobbly quality, completely homespun and sincere.

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Fantastic suicide accompaniment

prolixrush

This "found" recording wobbles on the line between mid-'70s solipsism and pure genius, with all these kids instructed to sing some really depressing songs (and some uplifting ones, too!) with lyrics they didn't fully understand until years after the project. It's comparable to today's Kidz Bop series, where kids sing cover versions of songs like Modest Mouse's "Float On" (just try not to cringe when you hear tiny voices singing the line "I backed my car into a cop car the other day"). A friend once mentioned to me that should he ever kill himself in a fit of anger at a lover, he would send the offending party a video of the act with the Langley Schools' version of "God Only Knows" as the soundtrack. I couldn't agree more — the song is a must-listen. If you download only one track, go for that one. "Desperado" is great, too.

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interesting...that's all

j0h0c

I purchased this after hearing the hype on WFMU (of which Irwin Chusid is a DJ). Can't say I read into it as much the album liner notes indicate, so I'd have to say the All Music Guide review hits it right on the head. It's simply a bunch of kids singing and playing to their abilities with an accidental atmosphere of somberness and/or eariness caused by cavernous gymnasium acoustics and children singing lyrics written by adults.

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They Say All Music Guide

These 19 tracks are taken from the two albums Langley Elementary School students recorded and released in small quantities for themselves and their friends in British Columbia in the mid-’70s. Innocence & Despair is a subtitle etched onto the sleeve, to which could rejoin, is it the innocence of ineptitude, or the ineptitude of innocence? On its own merits, it’s not great listening. The kids are engaged and having fun, certainly; there’s not much despair here. But they sound close to what you would expect 50-strong vocal ensembles of nine- to 12-year-olds singing in a school gymnasium to sound like. What does probably lift this above most other vanity school music class pressings (and you know there must be plenty more where this came from) is the spooky, minimal strangeness of most of the arrangements. It does indeed sound refreshing and interesting to hear the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Neil Diamond songs with weird off-kilter xylophones, off-the-wall cymbal crashes, and teacher Hans Fenger’s basic singalong acoustic guitar and piano. It’s more valuable as a cultural curiosity and something to get the guffaws going at parties than it is a deep listening experience. There’s something undeniably otherworldly about much of it, though, particularly the cover of “Space Oddity,” with its scrape-slides and ridiculously over-tremoloed guitar. The strangest cover choice is undoubtedly Klaatu’s “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” (well, Klaatu was Canadian). And there’s an interesting comment about nine-year-old Sheila Behman’s solo vocal showcase by Fenger in the liner notes: “I always felt [her version of] ‘Desperado’ was better than versions by the Eagles or Linda Ronstadt.” If you’re not a fan of those artists, which probably could be said of the majority of consumers purchasing this disc, you might well agree. – Richie Unterberger

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