I’m thrilled to have garage icon Shannon Shaw as the latest contributor to the Hidden Gems series today. Shannon should be familiar to most through her work with Shannon and the Clams, and as the secret soul weapon in Hunx (formerly with his Punx). She’s a bastion of badass, a dynamic visual artist, and as even a cursory listen to The Clams would attest a superb appreciator of ’60s sounds. The series, as always, takes a look at albums lost in the cracks, underappreciated and looking for some love. This week, Shaw points some light on Hans Fenger’s collection of children’s choral explorations of ’60s pop. The album has found its own cult over the years, including among many of the artists covered. Shannon lets us in on how this gem came into her life and how it’s impacted her own music.
Shaw reveals that the album came to her through a recent friend. “I’m not sure how aware the world is of it,” she says, “but I’d never heard of it before. It’s amazing to hear tons of kids singing these adult concepts so earnestly. The choir of children singing classics just makes my brain buzz. The record is more of an experience than just digging a tune. It’s more physical and emotional because you know the original songs and have to imagine the teacher, Hans Fenger, wrangling all the kids, teaching them to love the songs and breaking them down into parts. The imperfection in their voices and playing really gives the songs multiple facets and more meaning.”
As to whether the fragile collection has influenced her own writing, Shaw confides, “ It’s a record that I love to DJ. If you watch the crowd when I play it you see a lot of slow head turns and people trying to figure out what I’m playing and why it sounds so familiar. I have wanted to record back up vocals with this same effect, like a wall of sound but all children. When recording back ups I do try and make sure we have a variety of voices to give variation and character.”
So, I guess if a wall of children’s voices appears on the next Clams record, you’ll know where the idea came from. As for the Langley album itself, the original was pressed in a small run of 300, but over the years it built a huge following, leading to a reissue on Bar/None in 2001. It’s now readily available on CD and, as Shannon mentions, truly an experience to behold. You’d do well to dip into Fenger’s offbeat take on tried and true classics from the annals of your own youth.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.