O-U (The Hound Song) - Tom Lehrer, Public Domain 
S-N (Snore, Sniff, and Sneeze)
N Apostrophe T
(I'm Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica
This three-CD set collects many of Tom Lehrer's tunes, described by Time magazine as "brilliant and coruscating parodies," bringing back a bygone era when the "liberal consensus," as Lehrer calls them, knew who they were a... more »nd could, therefore, laugh at both themselves and the well-defined enemy. Delivering clever, witty rhymes about topical subjects was Leher's strength. In "Wernher Von Braun" [the Nazi German scientist who later worked for NASA], Lerher sings: "I'll sing you a tale of Wernher Von Braun / A man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience / Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down / 'That's not my department,' says Wernher Von Braun." Using a rollicking piano as accompaniment, Lehrer will remind some of Mark Russell, the current political satirist, but Lehrer's more pointed humor and grating, nasal voice make him a much tougher listen. His Jimmy Durante-like delivery, however, doesn't completely trump his truly quick mind and clever use of language. --Wally Shoup« less
This three-CD set collects many of Tom Lehrer's tunes, described by Time magazine as "brilliant and coruscating parodies," bringing back a bygone era when the "liberal consensus," as Lehrer calls them, knew who they were and could, therefore, laugh at both themselves and the well-defined enemy. Delivering clever, witty rhymes about topical subjects was Leher's strength. In "Wernher Von Braun" [the Nazi German scientist who later worked for NASA], Lerher sings: "I'll sing you a tale of Wernher Von Braun / A man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience / Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down / 'That's not my department,' says Wernher Von Braun." Using a rollicking piano as accompaniment, Lehrer will remind some of Mark Russell, the current political satirist, but Lehrer's more pointed humor and grating, nasal voice make him a much tougher listen. His Jimmy Durante-like delivery, however, doesn't completely trump his truly quick mind and clever use of language. --Wally Shoup
Lavish treatment of this generation's greatest satirist
efrex | New York, NY USA | 06/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tom Lehrer is one of the greatest anomalies in popular music: he burst on the scene for a dozen years with five albums (two of which where essentially live versions of studio recordings), then retired into academia, not performing in public for decades. To further discourage any chance of his becoming popular, his song medium was "novelty" parody and social satire, both of which tend to have short shelf lives.Despite all this, Lehrer's pointed wit has remained popular among a small but passionate group who appreciate brilliant, cutting comments about the hypocrisies of our race relations ("National Brotherhood Week"), collegiate life ("Bright College Days"), and parodies of every song type.This box set combines all of Lehrer's previously released albums, plus a smattering of bonus tracks, including songs written for the children's show "Electric Company" (who would've thought that the man who wrote "Masochism Tango" and "Vatican Rag" would be a good educational influence on children?)The real bonus of this handsome box set, however, are the (hard-cover bound!) lavishly illustrated liner notes, which include an interview, notes, complete lyrics, and rare photos. Rhino did its homework on this one, and it shows. It would've been nice to hear some of the real obscurities ("Physical Revue" or the "Subway Song"), but I guess those would entail another studio session.There are only a handful of novelty songwriters who deserve this kind of treatment, and none with the relatively limited output that Lehrer has. Congratulations, Rhino for a beautiful package on one of the seminal performers of this age."
The Living Legend
Mr. Gary L. Shapiro | Aptos, ca USA | 06/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tom Lehrer is not dead! No, at age 72 he continues avoiding the spotlight and insisting that he is not in show business. This boxed set of his complete works is a testament to his genius for satire. His earliest work demonstrates his skill in parodying various song styles on albums he recorded in the mid-fifties. His political side is revealed in deftly turned tunes written for the 60's TV series "That Was the Week That Was". Also included are children's songs from "The Electric Co." There are a couple of new songs too. Dr. Demento's biographical notes are indispensable. Listening to Tom Lehrer's music is almost as good as being in his math class."
An irrelevant omnibus of dubious social import...
linus | the land of wind and ghosts | 07/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...or at least that's how Tom Lehrer, with his customary self-deprecating wit, might describe it. To his fans, however ("all three of them," he might add), this boxed set is, to quote Christopher Walken in "True Romance," "as good as it's gonna get, and it won't ever get that good again." If you are the sort of Pavlovian Lehrer enthusiast for whom the name "Tom Lehrer" calls forth such phrases as "pride of my record collection," "would even buy a bag of cow offal if it were a Tom Lehrer bag," or "what exactly DID the Sunday school teacher and the kindly Parson Brown do together?", you obviously must buy this set. In fact, you probably have already bought this set, played it an unhealthy number of times, and are unlikely to be reading this review anyway, since you hardly need to be sold on the myriad wonders of this collection. (Preaching to the choir is not only fun, it's easy.)If you are the casual sort of fan who already owns the four available Lehrer CDs (the live albums and the Rhino collection of his two studio albums), you must then ask yourself if you desperately need the handful of previously unreleased songs, such as a few "Electric Company" ditties and a couple of newer tunes. If not, you may well opt to stick with your current Lehrer collection and eschew the repackaging, though you risk being snubbed by the Rabid Tom Lehrer Completists of America (twelve members at last count, of whom Lehrer himself is steadfastly not one).If, however, you are new to the musical stylings of Tom Lehrer -- staggering thought, that -- there is no better place to start, and finish, than here. It contains well-nigh all things Lehrer, though I must wonder if Rhino will wait until Lehrer excuses himself from this plane of existence and then release "The Really Truly Complete Definitive Tom Lehrer, Really, And We Mean It This Time" boxed set. The thick supplementary book itself is worth the price, containing rare photos, complete lyrics, the original liner notes of all the albums, excerpts from an Internet interview, even "Mad Magazine" visualizations of "The Hunting Song" and "The Wild West Is Where I Wanna Be."One final note on the admitted repetitive nature of much of the collection. Yes, roughly a third of the set can be seen as simply "live versions" of the studio recordings, or vice versa. Personally, I prefer the live versions, which contain Lehrer's pre-song witticisms and tend to be more animated than the lonely-sounding studio versions. But I'm happy to have the studio recordings as well, and any set that strives for completeness must risk a certain amount of redundancy. The important thing is that it's all here.Now to the question of whether Lehrer devotees who already own the other four discs should now part with them, perhaps donating them to a local library or to unenlightened friends, thus spreading the Word of Tom and ensuring that he irrevocably warps the minds of that many more heretofore productive citizens. The alternative choice is to keep the discs for oneself and gloat over them. I still haven't decided yet. But by all means, if this review has appealed to you on any level (shameless or otherwise), your decision to purchase the boxed set is by now long overdue; put it off no longer, and go click on the funny little button."
Be Prepared - TO LAUGH!
Mark Clegg | Great Britain | 08/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How can you describe Tom Lehrer's work to someone who has never encountered it before? Satirical? Yes, but only partially. Biting? Always, but sometimes with a touch of silliness. Wicked? Definately, but with a twinkle in the eye. Perhaps the one word to descrobe Tom Lehrer's work is, quite simply, funny. Having discovered Lehrer through a chance hearing of his most famous song, Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, I became hooked. This box-set presents all of Lehrer's recordings along with a fantastically produced hard-backed book chronicalling just about all of the information there is on the man (he's a very private individual) as well as all of the lyrics. Taking each of the three discs individually I shall start with the second one. Disc Two features Lehrer's two original recordings from 1959 and 1960 - 24 tracks in all. Each song is a gem but standouts include the aforementioned 'Pigeons' as well as The Hunting Song, My Home Town, Oedipus Rex and The Masochism Tango. The titles themselve point at the very political-INcorrectness of the content! These recordings are live and include the bridging introductions and gags (some of which are even funnier than the songs) and are boosted greatly by the presence of a very receptive audience. Disc Two is virtually the same set of songs as Disc Two but without the audience and dialogue. These versions were recorded in a studio and suffer badly without the rapport that Lehrer has with the live audience. The only reason to listen to Disc One over Disc Two is for the two extra tracks slipped in at the end. Both I Got It From Agnes (how you interpret this song shows how dirty your mind is!) and That's Mathematics (a riff on That's Entertainment) are little treasures well worth re-visiting. Disc Three is a mixed affair that is never short of genius. The first 14 tracks are Lehrer's work featured on the US version of That Was The Week That Was. These are all performed with an audience and bridging dialogue and are just as good, if not better than those on Disc Two. Classics here include Smut (my personnal favourite from the whole collection), Pollution and The Vatican Rag (which has the assembled audience in stitches!). The titles here rightly suggest that more satire is apparent in this set of songs than the earlier work. This slightly dates the content, but not so much as to render it redundant. Also on Disc Three are four of Lehrer's earlier works (from Disc Two) with full orchestration instead of the usual self-played piano. These are wonderful to hear, but still lack the audience reaction. Also here are songs that Lehrer wrote for The Electric Company TV show (funny, educational and yet, still a little subversive!) and a few little oddities including I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica (a Jewish 'Christmas' song) and Selling Out (another personnal favourite). By the end of the third disc I was a little depressed that this comic genius had not made any more recordings. We must be satisfied with what he has left us, and look at the quality not quantity. Start again as soon as you're finished listening, these songs have great 'repeat appeal'. The only other recording of Tom Lehrer's work available (if it still is available) is the cast album of Tom Foolery, a revue of Lehrer's songs from 1980, performed by a cast of four and produced by (a young) Cameron Mackintosh. Although Lehrer himself does not appear on this recording, the cast work well with the material and the inclusion of a live audience helps too. I own a copy of this recording and treasure it. Lehrer's final (to date) public appearance was as part of the Cameron Mackintosh celebration Hey, Mr Producer! Here he performed Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park and here is where I took an interest in the rest of his work. This performance is available on DVD, video and CD."
Contains Adult Themes and Language
Pat Kelly | Here, There & Everywhere | 06/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No, not swear words. Really adult topics. Like religion, prejudice, politics and chemistry. If you've never heard Tom Lehrer, and God knows, he doesn't get much airplay, you've missed the most influential comic musician of the last century. The Simpsons, Weird Al, Animaniacs, South Park -- all their creators have acknowledged a debt to Lehrer's intelligent but bitter humor. (Don't compare him to Mark Russell - that's like saying if you've never heard the Beatles, they sound a lot like the Backstreet Boys.)While most of this music is over 40 years old, the irony has not rusted. (Ooh that's good! I'm copyrighting that phrase!) His pointed barbs at society and church are as sharp as ever. Consider the Vatican Rag, at one time banned on most stations as vehementally anti-Catholic: "Get into that long processional, step into that small confessional, then the guy who's got religion'll, tell you if your sin's original. If it is then play it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer, 2-4-6-8, Time to Transubstantiate." Lehrer's clever rhymes were non-pariel - who else could create lyrics consisting solely of the names of the elements? Check the Rhino website for the Tom Lehrer chat. But don't miss this set."