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First wave of the satire boom
on 6 March 2003
What is it about Tom Lehrer? Why do these period-piece satires from the late 1950s resonate down the decades, such that a retailer on something called 'the Internet' can still turn a dollar selling them? Simply, Lehrer coined a kind of musical humour that is simple, universal and stands up to repeated playing.
What was risqué in 1959 is still funny now, as Lehrer indulges his everyday passions for murder, drug abuse and necrophilia in a Noel Coward piano style in front of an appreciative audience of middle-class Americans for whom the newfangled rock'n'roll was (as Lehrer puts it) "for children".
One of the joys of this CD - an amalgam of 'An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer' and 'Tom Lehrer Revisited', so you also get 80 good minutes - is that it is live. Lehrer's introductions are often as funny as the songs, and he proudly quotes his New York Times review: "Mr Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste."
Lehrer sells himself, and the humour crosses all ages: a CD bought for my father-in-law at Christmas went down so well that another had to be acquired for his 10-year old grand-daughter...