Allan Sherman: Songs for Swingin’ Livers Only!

Mid-60s song parodist returns to his Jewish roots

After gaining fame with his 1962 debut My Son the Folk Singer and launching a #2 hit with 1963’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!,” Allan Sherman embarked on a series of high-profile projects and guest spots. By the time he recorded this 1964 release, the mood of the nation had changed radically with the assassination of JFK; the light-hearted parody that felt so effervescent in 1963 seemed a shade more superfluous in the shadows of 1964. In an effort to reconnect with his original audience, Sherman reintroduced the Jewish-rooted humor he’d largely abandoned over the course of several albums. His clever writing and ear for a tune were still sharp, but the record buying public wasn’t as hungry for silliness as they’d been two years earlier. Stories of gluttony, in-laws, modern pharmaceuticals, subway conductors and Jewish Lotharios are still funny, but what was once party entertainment – Sherman having honed his act in impromptu performances at friends’ homes – was now performance laden with expectations. There are many nice moments here, including the memorably anti-consumerist “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas,” but five albums along, the change in national zeitgeist seems to have dimmed Sherman’s fire. Collectors’ Choice straight-up reissue includes new liner notes by Dr. Demento. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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