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Invitation To...The Student Teachers

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Album Review

In 1977, Bill Arning was a 16-year-old music fan who went to see John Cale play at CBGB when he made friends with two other teenagers checking out the show, David Scharff and Philip Shelley. The three shared an interest in New York's burgeoning underground music scene, and when one of them hit on the idea that they could get into shows for free if they were in a band, the Student Teachers were born. From 1978 to 1980, the Student Teachers gigged regularly on the New York punk/new wave circuit, playing clubs like CBGB, Max's Kansas City, and Hurrah, and opening for the likes of Iggy Pop, Blondie, and Teenage Jesus & the Jerks. During their lifetime, the Student Teachers released a single and a four-song EP, as well as appearing on the sampler album Marty Thau Presents 2x5 (which also featured the Fleshtones and Brian Setzer's pre-Stray Cats new wave combo the Bloodless Pharaohs), and the group's full recorded output appears on Invitation To...The Student Teachers 1978-1980: The Complete Syllabus. While an unreleased track from the 2x5 sessions is included here (like the group's debut single, it was produced by Jimmy Destri of Blondie, an early champion of the band), this still features just nine tunes and clocks in at under 26 minutes, giving us a picture of the group that's clear but brief. It doesn't help that most of these tracks were rescued from vinyl and not much appears to have been done to clean up the audio, but this is still a lively and entertaining snapshot of a band who embraced the angular end of the new wave pop sound of the day, but with a fresh-faced confidence that comes from being teenagers not yet aware of their limitations. If Scharff's vocals are a bit mannered, he has a good voice and the right instincts (for the most part), and guitarists Shelley and Joe Katz make for a crisp, muscular-sounding team. Arning's lo-fi keyboards give the music a sound that recalls what the B-52s were doing around the same time, though with less outward camp, and bassist Lori Reese and drummer Laura Davis (later replaced by Hayden Brasseur) were a tight enough rhythm section that they didn't have to get by on the novelty of being women in an otherwise male band. Add some cool, catchy tunes like "Christmas Weather," "Looks," and "Past Tense," and you get a pretty fine career for a bunch of kids who couldn't even order their own drinks when they started. For aging hipsters, Invitation To... is fine new wave nostalgia; for youngsters, theirs is an example worth following.

Customer Reviews

Classic CBGB's

It's crazy that a great band now has their stuff properly released after so long!! An awesome story, kinda like a revived dead language.

Great Album

Great album!

I'll take The Student Teachers over The Strokes any day

This is the real deal. While The Student Teachers' music has languished in relative obscurity for the past thirty plus years, they were a key part of the NYC / CBGB's scene back in the day and their music was produced by Jimmy Destri of Blondie. I've been digging this re-issue. All I can say is, The Strokes owe these guys royalties!


Formed: 1977 in New York, City, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Rock & roll started out as teenage music, and punk rock was supposed to be about encouraging fans to make their own music; the Student Teachers were the band on New York City's new wave scene in the late 1970s that put these two ideas together, a handful of kids who made their way into one of America's hippest music communities by being in the right place at the right time. The band's story began in 1977 when Bill Arning, a 16-year-old music fan learning to play the keyboard, went to see John Cale...
Full Bio
Invitation To...The Student Teachers, The Student Teachers
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