Soundtrack Information

The Remains of Tom Lehrer

The Remains of Tom Lehrer

Rhino Records (R2 79831)

Release Date: 2000

Performed by
Tom Lehrer

Format: CD

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Track Listing

Disc 1: Remains of Tom Lehrer, The
1. Fight Fiercely, Harvard
2. The Old Dope Peddler
3. Be Prepared
4. The Wild West is Where I Want To Be
5. I Wanna Go Back To Dixie
6. Lobachevsky
7. The Irish Ballad
8. The Hunting Song
9. My Home Town
10. When You Are Old and Gray
11. I Hold Your Hand In Mine
12. The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
13. Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
14. Bright College Days
15. A Chistmas Carol
16. The Elements
17. Oedipus Rex
18. In Old Mexico
19. Clementine
20. It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier
21. She's My Girl
22. The Masochism Tango
23. We Will All Go Together When We Go
24. I Got It From Agnes (1997)
25. That's Mathematics (1993)

Disc 2: Remains of Tom Lehrer, The
1. Introduction
2. I Wanna Go Back To Dixie
3. The Wild West is Where I Want To Be
4. The Old Dope Peddler
5. Fight Fiercely, Harvard
6. Lobachevsky
7. The Irish Ballad
8. The Hunting Song
9. My Home Town
10. When You Are Old and Gray
11. The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz
12. I Hold Your Hand In Mine
13. Be Prepared
14. Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
15. Bright College Days
16. A Chistmas Carol
17. The Elements
18. Oedipus Rex
19. In Old Mexico
20. Clementine
21. It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier
22. She's My Girl
23. The Masochism Tango
24. We Will All Go Together When We Go

Disc 3: Remains of Tom Lehrer, The
1. National Brotherhood Week
2. MLF Lullaby
3. George Murphy
4. The Folk Song Army
5. Smut
6. Send the Marines
7. Pollution
8. So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)
9. What Ever Became Of Hubert?
10. New Math
11. Alma
12. Who's Next?
13. Wernher Von Braun
14. The Vatican Rag
15. Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
16. The Masochism Tango
17. The Hunting Song
18. We Will All Go Together When We Go
19. L-Y
20. Silent-E
21. O-U (The Hound Song)
22. S-N (Snore, Sniff, and Sneeze)
23. N Apostrophe T
24. Selling Out
25. (I'm Spending) Hannukah in Santa Monica
Track lengths not available for this album. If you have track length/time information for this album, please e-mail it to us at mail@soundtrack.net and we will add it to the database.

Review

by Dan Goldwasser
on June 23rd, 2001
[4 / 5]

At the end of the 1950s, there appeared on the scene a new performer by the name of Tom Lehrer. He had a background in mathematics from Harvard University, but during his stint at college he tried his hand at songwriting. Some of these small little songs would lead him to recording a small studio album, and from there his success slowly grew. By the mid 1960s, Lehrer was known as one of the funniest - and brashest - musical satirists on the scene. His offbeat humor and deadpan delivery was funny enough to retain an audience nearly half a century later. Of course, the fact that some of Lehrer's songs are favorites on Dr. Demento's radio show might have something to do with that. But nonetheless his humor (while somewhat dated because of the timeliness of it) still carries over to this very day.

Rhino Records recently released the ultimate collection for Tom Lehrer material. Entitled "The Remains of Tom Lehrer", this 3-disc album contains every studio and live recording of Lehrer that has ever existed. And then some. While not technically a "soundtrack", Lehrer did write a few songs for the popular children's television show "The Electric Company". These songs are included in the set, and I figured that if you haven't had any exposure to Tom Lehrer before, this might be a good time to get started.

Where to begin? Well, Disc 1 (Studio Recordings with Piano) contains the complete studio recording "Songs By Tom Lehrer" from way back in 1953. "Fight Fiercely Harvard" is a satirical homage to his alma mater. "The Old Dope Peddler" is a sick little lullaby about the local drug dealer. "I Wanna Go Back To Dixie" pokes fun at some of the bigotry (and other traditions) of the old South. Are you starting to get the idea? The songs are short, funny, and tend to be somewhat offensive - but that's the point. This is not a politically correct album. If you want that, go elsewhere.

The other half of the album contains the songs found in "More of Tom Lehrer" (1959). This is where the classics are. "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park", which plays quite frequently on Dr. Demento's program is first heard here. Additionally, the commercialization of Christmas in "A Christmas Carol", painful love in "The Masochism Tango" and the great old nuclear scare song "We Will All Go Together When We Go". "The Elements" is still an amazing song to this very day. Contained within this parody song of "A Modern Major General" from Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance are every single element known to man as of 1959. Pure genius, if you ask me, was necessary to put that together and have it work. Also included are "That's Mathematics" - a take on "That's Entertainment" - and "I Got It From Agnes", a little STD song. Considering that the latter song was recorded in 1997, it's amazing to note that Lehrer sounds the same nearly 40 years after the first recording of his songs.

Disc 2 (Live Performances) also contains two albums in one: "Tom Lehrer Revisited" (1960) and "An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer" (1959). The songs mirror identically all of those on the previous disc (except the last two songs) but as they were performed for a live audience, it's much more enjoyable. Lehrer's comfortable banter and quite funny monologues make this disc the best of all three. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Many of the songs simply work better with a live audience than they did on the previous disc. The laughter just adds much more to the experience.

Disc 3 (More Live Performances + Studio Recordings With Orchestra) also contain the live performance of "That Was The Year That Was" (1965). Not one to keep from offending anyone, the first song on this album is "National Brotherhood Week" which explains (quite clearly) all of the different combinations of who hates who. As I mentioned earlier, some of the jokes are dated. If you didn't follow politics in the 1960s, you might not get the joke about Massachusetts having "three senators". Freedom of Speech was the hot topic of the day (back in 1965), and so the appropriately titled "Smut" takes an interesting look at that issue. This is by far the more political of the live recordings - there are songs on George Murphy ("George Murphy"), Hubert Humphry ("Whatever Became of Hubert?"), military policy ("Send The Marines"), the environment ("Pollution"), hippies ("The Folk Song Army"), the nuclear arms race ("Who's Next?") and more. As Lehrer is a mathematician, his take on "New Math" is quite enjoyable - even more enjoyable when you actually get to see the equation he's working on (which is conveniently included in the booklet).

The other half of this album contains three different orchestral studio sessions. The first one, back in 1960, contains orchestral renditions of "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park", "The Masochism Tango", "The Hunting Song", and "We Will All Go Together When We Go". The Joe Raposo Sessions in 1971 and 1972 contain four songs written for "The Electric Company". Of these four songs, the most familiar ones are "L-Y" and "Silent-E". I remember growing up in the 70's watching "The Electric Company" and can safely say that those two songs were the only songs (aside from the main title song) to stick in my head. As an added bonus, the two other songs (which had never before been released) are included: "O-U (The Hound Song)" and "S-N (Snore, Sniff, and Sneeze)". But wait - that's not all! As a super-extra special bonus, there are some brand new recordings done in 1999 (56 years after the first recordings!), and they include "N Apostrophe T", "Selling Out" and "(I'm Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica" - a nice little song about where some Jewish Holidays could be spent.

All told, there is a staggering amount of material crammed onto these three albums, even if there are some overlaps. The booklet is a whole other story. Literally. Inside the 80-page hardcover booklet is a history of Tom Lehrer, the original liner notes from the original albums (with annotations by Lehrer in 1999), and all of the lyrics to all of the songs. The sound quality on the albums vary - the older material is generally mono, but the fidelity is quite high considering the age. As expected, the 1990's recordings are in clean digital stereo - but ultimately this is truly a high-quality set. The presentation and the content is sure to delight (and offend) most anyone who takes the time to listen to it all. Tom Lehrer might not be for you. He might not be the type of performer you would enjoy listening to. With the exception of some of the songs on Disc 3, all of the performances are done with a single, solitary piano. No backup singers, and no percussion. But if you're willing, you should definitely let Lehrer "take you away on wings of song, and help you forget for a while, your drab, wretched lives".


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