Well, if you have to pick one, i’d go with An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer. It’s a live concert recording, so it includes patter and humorous asides inbetween songs. The CD includes his signature song, “Poisoning Pigoens in the Park”
It also has The Elements, which is the periodic table sung to the tune of “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”
I second the vote for An Evening ^Wasted With Tom Lehrer. That Was the Year That Was would be a good choice if you want songs with more of a political focus. It has such classics as Wehrner Von Braun and The Vatican Rag. Just don’t play it around any Catholics…
Well, TWTWTW was actually my first choice, but the humor references are so topical and dated–“Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek”–that I feel An Evening Wasted… is a better Tom Lehrer introduction.
My father, who was more or less raised by Jesuits, and was at one time training to be a preist himself, apparently almost laughed himself unconcious the first time he heard “Vatican Rag”. So not all Catholics will be offended, only the ones lacking a sense of humor.
I also like “Pollution”:
“Pollution, pollution, you can use the latest toothpaste…
Then rinse your mouth with industrial waste!”
Another vote for “Evening Wasted…”. A constant touchstone of sorts, esp. every spring: “Spring is here! Spring is here,/Life is skittles and life is beer!..”.
When the box set came out, I read in a couple of reviews that amonst the copious information on Lehrer contained therein, is this nugget: that in the 1950’s, while working at Los Alamos, the newly-minted mathematician co-invented, with a couple of his silliest buddies…
I picked up a great CD which not only has both the live albums, but it’s actually cheaper than either of them - I don’t know if it’s available everywhere, but here in Melbourne, I see it for about $17 Australian (about $9 US). It’s called Tom Lehrer In Concert. The Amazon link I gave is a bit pricier than it is here in Australia, but it gives you a look at the cover, and track listing.