Albums

Humour - Released December 31, 1899 | LOL

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Humour - Released December 31, 1899 | Pickwick

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Humour - Released December 31, 1899 | Pickwick

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Humour - Released January 1, 1927 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Humour - Released June 7, 1941 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Humour - Released January 1, 1959 | Shout!

On Tom Lehrer's second studio album, he got a little more daring and biting, particularly on "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park," "The Masochism Tango," and "We Will All Go Together When We Go." Six years, after all, had elapsed since his 1953 debut, and social mores had loosened, if only a little. There's also one of his most well-known pieces, "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier." Lehrer made the unusual decision to record an identical set of material live the same year, issuing that as An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer. The live record might be a tad preferable for its slightly more freewheeling ambience. In any case, both More of Tom Lehrer and An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer are included in their entirety on the Rhino box set The Remains of Tom Lehrer. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Humour - Released January 1, 1959 | Shout!

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. ~ Mark Deming
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Humour - Released January 1, 1960 | Shout!

Revisited includes the same songs as the two separate studio dates called Songs by Tom Lehrer (on Lehrer Records), except the versions heard here are taken from a concert at M.I.T. that was released only in England. The pianist/singer/comedian starts with a brief narrative autobiography that is as amusing as his lyrics. The songs are not significantly different from the studio versions other than minor changes in wording and the on-stage chatter between numbers, though he takes his time getting "The Irish Ballad" underway as he stops several times to add one more quip. Not necessarily an essential LP for those who have either one of the studio versions of these songs, but it is still an enjoyable release. ~ Ken Dryden
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Humour - Released January 1, 1961 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

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Humour - Released January 1, 1962 | Capitol Records

Humour - Released January 1, 1963 | Hallmark

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Humour - Released January 1, 1965 | Shout!

Tom Lehrer's work always had a biting, satirical edge to it, but never was this more obvious than on this album, a collection of songs regarding events of the year 1965. Very little was sacred from Lehrer's sharp wit, from racism to the Catholic Church, and, while much of his subject matter has become outdated, his shrewd comic talents are beyond question. 1965 was obviously a good year for political satire: the threat of nuclear war was present and very real, the Catholic Church launched Vatican 2 in an effort to "modernize" the church, free speech was under threat, and the tide was beginning to turn against institutionalized racism (despite Malcolm X being assassinated that year). Lehrer's musicianship is good, but not brilliant, and his singing style is not exceptional, but the content of his songs is what makes him such a great comedian. Lyrically, he was superb. Where his contemporaries Flanders and Swann relied on clever wordplay, Lehrer's caustic wit was his strength. The nuclear threat was the major theme here, an example being the tale of nuclear proliferation, "Who's Next?," which, when mentioning Israel's need for nuclear weapons, states "The Lord's our shepherd, says the Psalm/But just in case -- we're going to get a bomb." "So Long Mom (A Song for World War 3)" came about because, as Lehrer says in his introduction, "if any songs are going to come out of World War 3, we'd better start writing them now." "Wernher von Braun" questions the United State's dubious moral decision to grant the Nazi scientist von Braun asylum if he worked for the U.S. Space Program, while "Send the Marines" highlights unwritten U.S. foreign policy, specifically on invading another country: "They've got to be protected/All their rights respected/Until somebody we like can be elected."Other themes explored are those of racism ("National Brotherhood Week"), freedom of speech ("Smut"), the growing number of protest songs ("Folk Song Army") ,and new teaching methods ("New Math"). More controversially, the Catholic Church's attempt at modernization is mercilessly lampooned in the "Vatican Rag." This is one of Tom Lehrer's finest works, and it is a pleasure to hear him actually sing these songs himself. While very much a product of the '60s, much of Lehrer's comedy is still relevant. This album gives a fascinating insight into the politics of the 1960s United States and also shows one of the finest comedic talents of that decade at his absolute best. ~ Jonathan Lewis
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Humour - Released January 1, 1966 | Caroline Records

This 45-minute CD, assembled from Don Adams' 1960s-vintage United Artists recordings, is only intermittently funny. The basic problem is that Adams' humor, although verbal in nature, is also distinctly visual -- it needs that image of his fidgety, angular presence to make the jokes really work. Moreover, his voice in the wraparounds for the segments lifted from the program itself gets tiresome very fast, and although the sections from the program are chosen for their distinctly verbal humor, without the images to support them, they seem pale and anemic. Perhaps the CD's shortcomings are also reflective of a certain obsolescence; in the 1960s, before anyone thought of home video and before it was even clear that a major, steady marketplace for reruns of sitcoms existed, the original LP release of this material was the only conceivable way that audiences could preserve and enjoy anew the best segments of the show -- stacked syndicated reruns and the VCR have altered that equation. As an added bonus on this disc, Raven Records has included a pair of songs recorded by series co-star Barbara Feldon, "Max" and "99," referring to the two lead characters from the series (though they seem to have gotten their order wrong on the CD track listing). Both songs were produced by Elliot Mazer, whose other credits include Janis Joplin, Mike Bloomfield, the Byrds, and Barclay James Harvest. Neither track is anything to write home about musically, although they are funny artifacts of the era. And the notes by Adams' longtime friend Bill Dana are entertaining. ~ Bruce Eder
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Humour - Released February 7, 1966 | Iswjdigital

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Humour - Released January 1, 1967 | Caroline Records

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Humour - Released January 16, 1967 | Epic - Legacy

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Humour - Released March 1, 1967 | ABKCO Music & Records

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Humour - Released October 9, 1967 | Columbia - Legacy

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Humour - Released October 27, 1967 | Columbia - Legacy

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