Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

by Tom Lehrer
     
 

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Recorded in March 1959 at a live show in Lehrer's home base of Cambridge, Massachusetts, this concert collection didn't exactly waste the Harvard mathematician-turned iconoclastic pianist/songwriter. Instead, AN EVENING WASTED WITH TOM LEHRER solidified his reputation as a caustic musical comedian during the Eisenhower years. What can you say about a guy who takes a…  See more details below

Overview

Recorded in March 1959 at a live show in Lehrer's home base of Cambridge, Massachusetts, this concert collection didn't exactly waste the Harvard mathematician-turned iconoclastic pianist/songwriter. Instead, AN EVENING WASTED WITH TOM LEHRER solidified his reputation as a caustic musical comedian during the Eisenhower years. What can you say about a guy who takes a Gilbert and Sullivan song and turns it into a complete inventory of the Periodic Table of Elements? In the late '60s Lehrer would quit writing (saying that he could not laugh at Vietnam). This disc, however, captures Lehrer at a simpler, more artful time, laughing at everything from nuclear annihilation ("We Will All Go Together When We Go") to simple human meanness ("Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"). The folk revival would later give us Dylan, Phil Ochs, and a slew of topical singer-songwriters. In the late '50s, however, those who liked a scathing dose of witty social commentary with their musical fare looked to the records of Tom Lehrer. This is one of the best.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
In 1959, when the so-called "sick humor" of Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, and Shelley Berman was the new rage among America's hipsters (and would-be hipsters), the acid-penned musical satire of Tom Lehrer doubtless seemed to be daring indeed, as he worked his audiences for laughs with tunes like "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park," "Oedipus Rex," and "The Masochism Tango." Thankfully Lehrer's humor still works well thanks to its considerable skill and its charm, even if its ability to shock isn't what it once was. Recorded before an enthusiastic audience at a concert at Harvard University (where Lehrer spent his days teaching mathematics), An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer finds him in superb form as a performer, able to dissect various musical forms for their comic potential with the skill of a surgeon and displaying not merely dead-on comic timing in his vocals but a easy élan as a pianist; for a guy who picked musical comedy as a part-time job, he sure had a knack for the trade. And while Lehrer's songs no longer shock, that's not to say they've entirely lost their sting, as the bitter twists of "Bright College Days," "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier," and "A Christmas Carol" hit their target just as well as ever, while inspiring no small amount of laughter. And it's worth noting that the album's final punch line, "We Will All Go Together When We Go," is just as apt today as it was in 1959, for good or ill. While the work of many of his contemporaries today sound like the products of their time and place, Lehrer's best songs are still slyly funny and corrosively charming, and An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer ranks with his finest work on record.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/12/1990
Label:
Reprise / Wea
UPC:
0075992743525
catalogNumber:
6199
Rank:
16864

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