Picture sleeve for Rockpile's "Teacher Teacher" single.
In 1972, Dave Edmunds released a solo album called “Rockpile”; drummer Terry Williams was part of the backing band for that album. After the supporting tour ended, they disbanded. After the breakup of Brinsley Schwarz in 1974, Edmunds and Nick Lowe began recording together; Lowe and Williams provided backing on some of the tracks on Edmunds’ second solo album, “Subtle as a Flying Mallet” (1975). In 1976, Lowe began his association with Stiff Records as both a solo artist and in-house producer. Edmunds’ dislike for Jake Rivera precluded him from signing with Stiff and instead he signed with Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Records. In spite of being signed to different record labels, Edmunds, Lowe and Williams toured as Rockpile in 1976-77 as the opening act for Edmunds’ label mate Bad Company. This early version of Rockpile also provided backing on Edmunds’ next album, “Get It” (1977). In 1977, Rockpile added Billy Bremner to the lineup as rhythm guitarist and third vocalist. This version of Rockpile provided backing on Edmunds’ “Tracks on Wax 4” (1978). In June 1979, Edmunds and Lowe released solo albums on the same day (“Repeat When Necessary” and “Labour of Lust”, respectively), both with Rockpile as the backing band. The following year, Edmunds submitted “Twangin'” (1981) to Swan Song (with Rockpile providing backing on 9 of the 11 tracks), completing his obligation to Swan Song. In the meantime, Lowe had defected to Columbia in 1978 as part of Jake Rivera’s buy-out deal upon departing Stiff Records. For the first time in four years, label politics would not stand in the way of releasing an “official” Rockpile album, and Rockpile released “Seconds of Pleasure” on Columbia in October 1980, preceded by the single “Teacher, Teacher” b/w “Fool Too Long”, released on September 22, 1980. This is today’s featured single.
“Teacher Teacher” is the first song off the album, and a worthy opening track it is. The lyrics and music are evocative of early bubblegum, yet I would rather listen to this music than anything released by The Backstreet Boys (actually, root canal surgery sounds more fun than listening to those gender-indeterminate fools). The song opens rather abruptly with a Billy Bremner/Dave Edmunds twin guitar attack, and as the lyrics start, Nick Lowe’s bass fills out the sound: “Young love, teacher`s pet/Cheeks flushed, apple red/Ringing you every day/Begging for a word of praise”. Nick Lowe sings lead vocals on this song, with Edmunds and Bremner providing the backup vocals (in the chorus). The echo effect on Lowe’s vocals was a nice touch, suggesting that Lowe the producer (production is credited to “Nick Lowe and Rockpile”, but I assume that Lowe handled the bulk of production duties) knew how to get the most out of even a throwaway rocker like this. Terry Williams, by the way, complimented the track well with his insistent drum rhythm. True to form for Rockpile, the song clocks in at a mere 2 minutes and 36 seconds.
Label for flipside of "Teacher Teacher" single.
But if “Teacher Teacher” was a very good song, “Fool Too Long” was even better. This time Edmunds provides the lead vocals (although Lowe and Bremner are on hand to back him up). This time, the subject of the song is a man scorned – the singer’s significant other has been cheating on him, and he’s pretty ticked off: “I should’ve realized it/A long time ago/When you told me that you loved me/But you didn’t anymore/You ran around with anyone/All behind my back/When you asked me to forgive you/I went and took you back”. The rhythm guitar on this track sounds like an acoustic guitar, which gives the track a unique sound. But for me what makes this track most memorable is that even though the subject of a man/woman who’s been wronged has been covered extensively in rock music, the song includes this great couplet: “If I’m the one who pays the rent/I gotta have a hundred percent”. True to form, Rockpile delivers a sharp, succinct tune, and this track runs 2 minutes and 51 seconds.
By the way, the label for this single is the orange and yellow Columbia label commonly used on Columbia singles in this time period (early 1980’s). The single was originally released with a picture sleeve (the booklet accompanying my “Seconds Of Pleasure” CD shows a “Teacher Teacher” picture sleeve, shown above), but subsequent pressings were issued with a plain company sleeve, also shown above. The single was a minor hit, reaching #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tensions between Edmunds and Lowe led to the dissolution of Rockpile in 1981. Bremner and Williams appeared on several Nick Lowe albums throughout the 1980s, but Lowe and Edmunds did not work together again until Lowe’s 1988 album “Pinker and Prouder Than Previous”.