Tom Lehrer

The Rest of Tom Lehrer

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Tom Lehrer was a unique comic figure when he emerged in the mid-'50s, a Harvard professor who spent his spare time writing darkly witty songs that wrung mordant laughter from the anxieties of the day, from disease to racism to nuclear war. After recording a few of the songs he'd been playing at parties and releasing them on his own label, word of mouth spread like wildfire and Lehrer became one of America's most successful comics, recording a series of hit albums for Reprise Records and playing concerts across the country until he suddenly retired in the mid-'60s, ending his career as casually as it began. The Rest of Tom Lehrer is a collection of rarities from Lehrer's recording career, including orchestral-backed versions of a few of his best-known tunes (which were originally recorded with just Lehrer's voice and piano), a handful of tunes about grammar he wrote for the children's television show The Electric Company, and the original version of "I Got It from Agnes." This is a long way from a Lehrer "greatest-hits" album, given the obscurity of most of the selections, and most of these recordings already appeared on Shout! Factory's 2010 release The Tom Lehrer Collection. But all of these tunes reflect Lehrer's expert wordplay and sharp wit, as well as his fine piano playing and strong melodies; fans who don't have the Lehrer Collection will enjoy this album, which offers some rare gems from a one-of-a-kind talent.

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