Kori Frazier | Kent, OH United States | 09/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After hearing "An Evening (Wasted) With Tom Lehrer," I thought, "Whoa! This is funny as hell! It just can't get better than this!" Well, it can. The bottom line is, if you did not enjoy An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer, you will certainly, undeniably, and most definitely not enjoy "That Was The Year That Was." Of the three albums released by this maniac this is unquestionably the best. Last year, I took a course at school titled Western Civilization. During the last half of the year, we discussed the majority of the events that Mr. Lehrer sings about on this album (one of my teacher's lessons included in our World War II unit even contained a lecture of which countries "got the bomb, and that was okay, 'cause the balance of power is maintained that way, who's next?"). The background information I gathered through this course helped me to better understand the lyrics to the songs, thereby making me roll on the floor laughing my posterior end (I am writing this on a school computer and therefore can't say the "correct" word) off. "National Brotherhood Week" has become an anthem for my CD player, as have "So Long Mom (A Song For World War III)", "New Math", and my very most personal favorite, "The Vatican Rag." So, calling all comedy, music, and political satire fans everywhere--if you've got some spare time you are just dying to waste, check it out!""
I have two words for you: "The Vatican Rag" (okay, 3 words)
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of the three classic Tom Lehrer albums, the material on "This Was The Year That Was" always struck me as being somehow different from the other two. Now as I have attained the pinnacle of wisdom I believe I have an explanation for my intuitive feeling: the songs on this album were written for the NBC television show "This Was The Week That Was" (affectionately known as TW3), which meant Lehrer was working with a deadline each week. Consequently, while I am impressed that he could come up with such ditties each week to help skewer the people in the headlines, I think that most of the songs contained within are not particularly memorable (e.g., "M.L.F. Lullaby," "George Murphy") although he does rhyme "commie" and "salami" in "So Long Mom," but you know some would never have been written if he had not needed a new song for that week's show (e.g., the overlong "Alma"). I also did not find Lehrer's pre- and post-song chatter about semi-current events to be as enjoyable as on the other albums where he is the subject under observation.That being said I must acknowledge that this album does include three absolute classic gems from Lehrer. First, there is "New Math," the lyrics to which I have been inscribing on black boards in math classes for years, undeterred by the fact I was teaching English and they were not my classes rooms. Who knew numbers could be funny? Second, there is "Who's Next?", a witty look at the nuclear arms race that is as timely today as it was way back when and which popped up once on "Picket Fences" being sung by Douglas Waumbaugh ("for the Harvard-educated musician with the nimble fingers and glib tongue, your Honor. We plead not guilty."). Finally, there is "The Vatican Rag," which brings the Catholic Church from the dim dark past into a place it most assuredly did not want to be. Along with "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park," this is the quintessential Tom Lehrer. "This Was The Year That Was" is the least of his albums, but in this particular genre you are not going to find anybody better. Class dismissed."
It is as timely today as in 1966
Kori Frazier | 05/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recall listening the songs of Tom Lehrer while I was in junior high school and how we would annoy the teachers by singing the 'elements' song on school field trips. After graduating from high school, Tom Lehrer was always in the background thanks to the talented DJ's of a local radio station. But it was not until the Beirut tragedy that I really stopped to think about Dr. Lehrer. This is not to be considered disrespectful of those that were ordered into Lebanon. Not long after those Marines were killed, I pulled out my LP and listened to it, really listened to it. His songs were still as potent and relevent 16 years after he recorded them. Besides the Marines, Hubert Humphery had recently died, pollution was the big topic what with the fairly recent removal of lead from gasoline, the question of did Isreal really have the bomb? (They did, and South Africa would soon have one as well.) And President Reagan was walking a fine line between peace and WW III, forcing the Soviet's hand in Europe that would bring the Berlin Wall crashing down by the end of the decade. I have played this and every other Tom Lehrer song to my family, to my friends, and to my neighbors. We all agree, 33 years later, this is still, one must have CD. Major Michael K. La Violette, Armor, US Army."
Still crazy after all these years...
Kori Frazier | 04/09/1997
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember sitting in junior high school, singing Mr. Lehrer's songs in music class (I should mention that I went to private school). His music, though written a few decades ago,is still timely and still musical and outrageously funny. A review he often quotes from the New York Times: "Mr. Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste." My own extremely Catholic grandmother cried in her laughter while listening to the "Vatican Rag." My boyfriend can't believe some of the lines in "National Brotherhood Week", a song which still applies to all such weeks in these less than brotherly United States. Tom Lehrer's music is well worth the twelve dollars requested here. END"
Ready, Aim, SING!
Kelly L. Norman | Plymouth, MI United States | 06/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It takes mischievous talent to pen skits and ditties of the sort we're used to hearing from today's political satirist; the songs from Capital Steps for example; the occasional witty observance from the Daily Show. It takes irrascable genious to write a song in 1965 poking fun at the Pentagon's unpenetrable logic which appears taken from the headlines of 2005:
"When someone makes a move/ Of which we don't approve, Who is it that always intervenes? /The UN and OAS all have their place I guess/But first send the Marines!"
Lest you think, however, that this is yet another bash-the-hawkish-conservatives comedian, Lehrer leaves nobody unscathed by his wit. This includes the Sputnik-phobic education system, which is so intent on producing brilliant mathematicians it has just introduced the "new math" policy (being a mathematician--Lehrer was at the time a mathematics professor at Harvard--he is especially good at lampooning this benighted lunacy), which Mr. Lehrer dices, slices and juliennes in a song for which he provides absolutely useless visual aids in the jewel cover insert. "The Vatican Rag" could hurt the feelings of the Catholic feint of heart, but in truth, it's just a hyperbole on the fact that everyone expected Vatican Two to get the church to really let things loose. Which, of course, it didn't. After all, it's the church. They couldn't exactly go back and re-write everything. My two very favorite songs have also stood the test of time: "National Brotherhood Week" and "The Folk Song Army." Both attack what we now call "political correctness" , the first by reminding us of that old adage, you can't legislate morality. But "The Folk Song Army" is an absolute gem. "We all hate poverty, war and injustice,unlike the rest of you squares." You will never hear folk music the same way again, you'll always be asking yourself....but isn't everyone against that? Do these people ever take an unpopular or courageous stand?
It's hard to choose which CD to buy first from Tom's collection; the songs on this CD happen to be the most memorable for me. You can't lose with any of his recordings, but this one will certainly do as an introduction to his sharp wit and breezy interaction with the audience."