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4.8 out of 5 stars
An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2002
I was introduced to Tom Lehrer 11 years ago by my then drama lecturer. I never got the chance to thank her by introducing me to the clever wit of this genius. Lehrer was tackling topics in the '50s and '60s than some still skirt around today. This was the first album of his I heard, and it still remains my favourite. The audience is right behind him on this recording. to think that Lehrer actually put his albums out on his own indie label. . .a trendsetter even then! This album was released with a corresponding studio album of the same material (MORE OF TOM LEHRER); I prefer these songs in a live setting. While some of the songs might have dated somewhat, I guarantee you'll get more than one belly laugh out of the clever, caustic wit of Tom Lehrer, the U.S.A's funniest mathematician.
POISONING PIGEONS IN THE PARK - Delivers a poisonous dose to all those 'Springtime walking in the park with my love' type songs.
BRIGHT COLLEGE DAYS - Come on, all of you must have heard a school song you wanted to cringe at. They're trotted out at every school reunion.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL - A carol celebrating the monetary (and the montonous) aspects of Joyous Yuletide.
THE ELEMENTS - Inspired by the tongue twisting genius of Danny Kaye and the music of Gilbert and Sullivan. Lehrer sings the periodic table of elements! I wish I could've heard this song much earlier . . .it could've stopped me from failing high school science!
OEDIPUS REX - A title soing that never was for the movie version of Oedipus Rex. "Of all ideals they hail as good, the most sublime is motherhood". LOL!
IN OLD MEXICO - A ballad of Old Mexico; complete with a half a ton of angry pot roast, Lehrer's brother's pet dog Rover, typhoid, dysentary, and a stolen wallet!
CLEMENTINE - The traditional singalong as reworked by Cole Porter, Mozart("Or one of that crowd . . ."), a bebop beatnik, and Gilbert and Sullivan.
IT MAKES A FELLOW PROUD TO BE A SOLDIER - Tom Lehrer was in the army for two years; from January 1955 to January 1957. This track is full of characters he could have rubbed shoulders with during this time, but most likely didn't.
SHE'S MY GIRL - Despite all your lover's faults (inability to cook, bathroom habits), you still love her/him. This track could use a bit of a gender swap, though.
THE MASOCHISM TANGO - A tango for all you gluttons for punishment who want the love for your partner to be a flame, not an ember.
WE WILL ALL GO TOGETHER WHEN WE GO - This should have become an anthem for the 'anti-nukes' and 'anti-war' protestors from the '60s til the present day. It packs the same punch as the early Dylan protest songs or the later electric ones by the Turtles, Country Joe & The Fish et al.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2004
I have to say that I would never have piccked this CD up and listened to it if it hadn't been for my dad. He listens to the oddest selection of music, so I, being his child, have grown accustomed to it; but this CD was the best out of all my dad's CDs. Although I am only a teen, and I do not understand all the references, political and otherwise, the CD gave me a chance to sit back and relax for 45 minutes and laugh. I enjoy Lehrer's dry sense of humor and it is entertaining to try to decifer what Lehrer is saying(as in the song The Elements, has to wait till I took chemistry to figure out what all he was saying!).
ok, basically what I am trying to say is that this CD is just perfect!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2004
One reason why the great songs of Tom Lehrer hold up after all these decades is that some of the issues they cover have not gone away. The Cold War may be over, but the weapons remain. And anyway there are other ways Armegeddon may arrive. Misunderstanding between the sexes will never vanish.
But I think the real reason Tom Lehrer's "An Evening Wasted..." has held up so well for so long is that his humor and craft are top quality. We still read Mark Twain's acerbic satires. Will Rogers is still an American icon, while others have come and gone. And in the tradition of Twain and Rogers, Lehrer, while commenting on contemporary conditions, takes them and twists them in a way that is nothing short of brilliant. And, without realizing it, has given us a better understanding of his times, while making us laugh (or weep) at ours.
Forget all that heavy stuff: this is just a darned funny collection!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2000
I am a teenage folk music fan who discovered this CD upon one of my regular browsing sessions at Borders, and picked it up on a whim after listening to the first two tracks. Tom Lehrer is a comedy genius--this has to be one of the funniest comedy recordings I have ever heard. In this day and age where Weird Al Yankovic is the favorite satirical recording artist among music fans, it is amazing to listen to this album and see how much Lehrer was ahead of his time, as well as how funny these songs are even after over forty years. But the the funny songs are not the only pleasure of this recording--I was also duly impressed with Mr. Lehrer's ability as a pianist. For more musical comedy fun, check out CDs by the folk artist Loudon Wainwright, III.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2005
This CD is hilarious! How can you possibly deny the genius of tunes like "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" ("When they see us coming the birdies all try and hide, but they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide"...) or "The Elements" (the periodic table set to Gilbert and Sullivan, as you probably know by now). Lehrer's black humor and commentary always makes me laugh when I pop this disc into my player, and as an added bonus, this is a live disc, so we are treated to Lehrer's monologues as well as his songs, which are usually just as funny as his songs, if not more so. Highlights include the story of Dr. Samuel Gall, inventor of the gallbladder, and a bit about his friend Henry ("He spelled his name H-E-N-3-R-Y. The 3 was silent, you see"...)who wrote novels ("about a young necrophiliac who finally achieved his boyhood ambition by becoming coroner").

Even though these tunes were written in 1959, they haven't dated, and still remain as fresh and funny today as they were 46 years ago. If you enjoy black humor, and like to laugh, what are you waiting for? Buy this, and/or any other album by Tom Lehrer, today!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2001
This must be what Aristophanes was like for his contemporaries.
Tom Lehrer's brilliant satires were originally recorded in the 1950s and 1960s, but their words and music are as fresh today as ever. Lehrer targets everything from nostalgia, to environmentalism ("We've gained notoriety and caused much anxiety / In the Audubon Society with our games"), to love ("Sharks gotta swim, and bats gotta fly, / I gotta love one woman till I die"), to folk music ("The reason so many folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people"), to military food ("To think of all the marvelous ways / They're using plastics nowadays"), to capitalism, to motherhood, to opera, and to college life ("Hearts full of youth, hearts full of truth, / Six parts gin to one part vermouth"). Lehrer's timing is exquisite, and many of his rhymes are unlike anything else in the language ("When the air becomes uranious / We will all go simultaneous").
If you are a teacher (as I am and as Lehrer still is today) you should know that this is perfect material to share with jaded young people who think they invented sarcasm. I have seen some of them go away quite humbled, but ultimately enriched, of course, like would-be poets discovering Dylan Thomas or Emily Dickinson for the first time.
You will wind up buying Lehrer's complete oeuvre, I know it, but "An Evening Wasted" is the one to start with. Even the spoken commentary between the songs (this is a live recording) is brilliant. Once you have internalized "An Evening Wasted" try "That Was The Year That Was" next.
Like the plays of Aristophanes, Lehrer's satirical songs are going to be around for a very long time indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2007
Tom Lehrer is a bit of late find for me. But having discovered his bountiful vineyard, I am drinking him down to the dregs.

Lehrer's brand of knowing, culturally-savvy and savage wit are are on moderate display in this collection. There are the classics ("Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and "The Elements"), plenty of little-known but sparkling gems, but a weak piece or two ("Bright College Days" and "She's My Girl") that have little to say. Lehrer's wit is dry and self-deprecatory, and his music is best when it lampoons the excesses of his age or when it hilariously upends a cherished piece of culture. "Oedipus Rex" is a terrific piece that presumes (rightly, as far as it late-1950s audience went) a certain familiarity with the classics. The leering repeated tag line about the king "who REALLY loved his mother" is still eyebrow-archingly naughty today. "It Makes a Fellow Proud to be a Soldier" is Lehrer's reflection on the odd set of misfits, morons and maniacs whom he met on a stint in the Army. "We Will All Go Together When We Go," one of the more topical of his works, could be considered a pre-antiwar song, putting a comic face on the global annihilation promised by "The Bomb." With lines like, "When the air becomes uraneous, we will all go simultaneous," Lehrer shows how nuclear war, for all its ability to terrify, is fundamentally ludicrous and perhaps worthy of opposition.

Other pieces have less topical import, but showcase Lehrer's piano virtuosity. After shredding the value of banal folk tunes like "Clementine," Lehrer demonstrates how the old standard would have been played by Cole Porter, Mozart and one of the "cool" composers of the Beat era. While he is at it, he conveys his own unfortunate bias against modern music. Poised as he is on the cusp of the decline of classical music and the advent of rock, Lehrer is none too respectful of the new genre, sneeringly referring to it as "childrens' music." Even in 1959, this sentiment met with subdued laughter and only polite applause. At age 30, Lehrer's musical heros (Gilbert and Sullivan, among them) were quickly becoming irrelevant, and he can appear as a bit of a fusty dinosaur. But never mind that. For every knock-out punch that doesn't connect, there are ten that do. "Masochism Tango" is still freakish, nearly 40 years after it was written. The writer of "The last time I needed twenty stitches to sew up the gash, that you made with your lash" is no homebody, by the standards of his time or of our own.

Lehrer loosened up quite a bit between this offering and the later "That Was the Week That Was," where his political wit and insight were most fully developed. Yet this collection is quite worthwhile in its own way, featuring Lehrer's tight lyrics and musical versatility. Hearing the reaction of the audience is definitely a plus. It's fun to hear what made a 1959 audience howl -- even jokes that are obvious and lame by today's standards were evidently quite fresh a half-century ago.

When this recording hit the streets, Tom Lehrer's short career had yet to peak, and his best output was still ahead of him. Pity that voices like his have been so rare. Happy are we who can appreciate, and perhaps hope to emulate, his style and outlook!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 1998
Purchased all 4 Tom Lehrer CD's. as I have original Vinyl that I wanted to preserve. Some of the songs on the CD's are not accurate copies from the original Vinyl presentations. Monologues and some of the songs have been changed. If you are a real Tom Lehrer appreciator you will be somewhat disappointed..... If you are new to Tom Lehrer then you won't notice the modifications so this won't matter to you, as they are still enjoyable, just not original materal
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2002
Having been born years after his last album, my parents (the little corrupters they were) introduced Tom Lehrer to my sisters and I at a young age and the we've been permanently damaged. As an adolescent boy, how could I pass up any album that began with a song about poisoning pigeons? And my parents were playing it for me.
Unlike, The Year That Was Tom Lehrer (for which my parents had to explain the history behind all of his songs), the beauty of this album and this particular satirist's targets is that they remain relevant even in 2002. Pigeons are still flying rodents over-running parks, corporations still run Christmas and any song about loving thy mother are still only funny to people whose minds have been eternally warped.
The solo piano, the not-quite operatic vocal performance, and the running commentary between songs on this disc add to the appeal. I have played it hundreds of times, and still find myself laughing at lines like "sliding down the razor blade of life." This song is nice reminder that no matter how serious the issue, there is someone willing to make fun of it.
While life might be like a sewer (you only get out of it what you put into it), this album produces something far far better than what you put into it. I've played these songs for friends, and they are a perfect test of those whose minds function at a higher level. Long may Tom Lehrer's songs live, and just remember: "If, after hearing my songs," he says, wistfully, "just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 1997
Tom Lehrer reportedly quit his cabaret act about 1974 with the crack that "once they gave Henry Kissenger the Nobel Peace Prize, there was nothing left to satirize". Little did Tom realize how prophetic his sense was of how absurd public life was to become. If you want a nostalgic visit with the guy who could have been the one-man American Gilbert and Sullivan (but with an ATTITIUDE!), try this tape. The dozen or so songs are among his best. Even the little bits of patter are jewels. END
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