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The Remains of Tom Lehrer
Tom Lehrer
The Remains of Tom Lehrer
Genres: Special Interest, Pop
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #3

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 »


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CD Details

All Artists: Tom Lehrer
Title: The Remains of Tom Lehrer
Members Wishing: 11
Total Copies: 0
Label: Rhino / Wea
Original Release Date: 5/23/2000
Release Date: 5/23/2000
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Special Interest, Pop
Styles: Comedy & Spoken Word, Easy Listening
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
UPC: 081227983123

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

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CD Reviews

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."