Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class

Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class

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"Mill Valley" was an enchanting left-field hit in 1970, written by kindergarten teacher Rita Abrams and performed with the third grade class from her elementary school, which was really called Strawberry Point. Abrams' clear, pretty, girl-next-door voice is similar to Lynn Ahrens of Schoolhouse Rock! fame, and the children's chorus heaps innocent charm on songs that are already bursting with it. Sounding like a cross between the Carpenters and the Sesame Street theme song (which isn't a strange mix at all, considering that the Carpenters had a major hit with "Sing" from that children's program), Abrams and the kids sing about summertime, nature, and gladness on her well-crafted originals. The two non-originals, "You Are My Sunshine" and Norman Greenbaum's "Buildin' a Heaven on Earth," perfectly fit the happiness (and, in the latter case, hippie-ness) of the mood. Abrams and company had a total of three singles reach the adult contemporary Top 40 in 1970-1971 and an album was compiled in 1972. The CD reissue has all ten songs from the LP, an uncharacteristically sad outtake from the album sessions, and a couple of worthwhile non-album tracks, including a later effort credited to Abrams alone. Only the most hard-hearted cynic could find no enjoyment in this minor masterpiece of early-'70s soft pop.

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