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Songs By Tom Lehrer

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Album Review

Tom Lehrer's 1953 debut album, Songs by Tom Lehrer, was a cheaply recorded (though the sound is reasonable) studio set in which the singing comedian accompanies himself on piano. In general, Lehrer's work has dated so that it sounds a bit fey and quaint in the light of bolder subsequent comedians (musical and otherwise). In addition, Lehrer would re-record all of these songs (and more than once), and the live versions on 1960s Tom Lehrer Revisited are less inhibited. Still, by 1953 standards this was fairly bold satire: there weren't many people talking about dope peddlers in any kind of media then, and "I Wanna Go Back to Dixie" has some sticky barbs about Southern race relations, even if the characters are caricatures. All 12 of the songs were re-recorded for the 1960 live LP Tom Lehrer Revisited. Then the album was re-recorded, yet again, in the mid-'60s for Reprise in stereo, with a few minor lyric changes (i.e. changing "reefers" to the more contemporary slang of "pot"); Lehrer later said he regretted the decision to do the stereo re-recording. In any case, the original 1953 LP, issued on his label, is now available as part of Rhino's The Remains of Tom Lehrer box set.


Born: April 9, 1928 in New York, NY

Genre: Comedy

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Tom Lehrer was one of comedy's great paradoxes -- a respected Harvard mathematics professor by day, he also ranked among the foremost song satirists of the postwar era, recording vicious, twisted parodies of popular musical trends which proved highly influential on the "sick comedy" revolution of the '60s. Despite an aversion to the press and a relatively small recorded output, Lehrer became a star, although he remained an enigma to even his most ardent fans; he rarely toured, never allowed his photo...
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Songs By Tom Lehrer, Tom Lehrer
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