Allan Sherman became a star overnight when his debut album, 1962's My Son, The Folk Singer, became a surprise hit and sold over a million copies in a matter of weeks with its hilarious upending of popular folk songs paired with new lyrics that poked broad but loving fun at Jewish-American life. But like most overnight sensations, Sherman had actually been working on his material for a while before he found an audience, and There Is Nothing Like a Lox: The Lost Song Parodies of Allan Sherman offers 13 previously unreleased tracks, most of which predated My Son, The Folk Singer as he wrote and performed his material for small audiences while working his day job as a producer of game shows. Much like his debut album, these songs -- most rewrites of Broadway favorites -- have a strong Jewish accent, celebrating the joys of lox and chopped liver, pondering the challenges and disappointments of cultural assimilation, reveling in the possibilities of the suffix -stein, and studying the nuances of the geography of the Bronx. As he became better known, Sherman would sound bolder and more confident (and less explicitly Jewish), and on most of these recordings, it's clear that he's still getting used to the idea of singing for an audience. But Sherman's knack for comic lyrics was already firmly in place, finding rich humor in the minutiae of everyday life, and these numbers, seemingly meant for nightclub audiences, allow him to indulge in some mild blue humor that wouldn't have made it onto a major-label album in 1962. The quality of the audio is not especially good on most of these tracks, with an audible hiss blanketing many of the numbers, but the sound is good enough to capture the nuances of the performances, and Sherman's comic magic is clearly evident in these rough early tapes. Load up a bagel with some lox and cream cheese, sit back, and relax with these rare gems from one of the pioneers of song parody.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming