Picks and Pans Review: Songs & More Songs by Tom Lehrer

updated 08/11/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/11/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Tom Lehrer

The title of this anthology by America's satirist emeritus is nearly the only thing about it that isn't brilliantly original and hugely entertaining. Otherwise its 28 tracks are paragons of insight and wit by a man who built a cult following in the 1950s and '60s, then abruptly retired from performing to teach college mathematics. The collection includes the majority of Lehrer's most notorious songs, including "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and "The Elements," his ingenious Gilbert & Sullivan recitation of the periodic table. (Alas, it omits such standbys as "Wernher von Braun" and "The Vatican Rag.") There's just no denying the cleverness of someone who can rhyme "toros" with "morose," "Valhallas" with "$200," "Viennese" with "peonies," and "Te Deum" with "ICBM." Lehrer's genius actually seems enhanced by the 30 years that have passed since these songs were written. (Rhino)

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