Harold Rome's Harold Rome's Gallery (1964)

Trained as an architect, then a Broadway lyricist-composer, then an Expressionist painter, Harold Rome has brought all three fields into a dizzying apotheosis of arrogant male-whiteness. Each song on this record corresponds to a painting printed on the gatefold, and the discerning consumer is hard-pressed to determine which one is duller. After listening to both sides, the answer is “we are.”

The track “Half-forgotten Teddy Bear,” sung by the braindead Rose Marie Jun, is what would happen if a Thomas Kinkade painting got drunk at a Buffalo Wild Wings. The corresponding painting looks like herpes threw up on butthole. “King of the Bushongo,” sung by Harold Rome himself, is a cluster of old timey racial slurs dressed up with wood block, shh-shh percussion rattles and every permutation of tone deafness.  I kind of like “Shake Hands, Dear Mrs. Cow” because it manages to make a rhyme out of “lactation” and assumes that cows get married before they’re slaughtered after years of tit slavery.

Whatever this record is, it’s difficult to think of a target audience other than closeted accountant step-dads or people who have never heard of silence. During “Art in the Night” there are umpteen references to disparate painters, an encyclopedic catalog of dead fucks who would rather stay that way than listen to this jerk-off teatro white noise. Side B closes with a satirical jaunt about “The Critics,” but other than myself, I don’t think anyone has bothered.   

Before I’m accused of abuse, I will commend Harold Rome for his part in writing and arranging the music for Rear Window, which is one of Hitchcock’s better movies about disabled perverts who can’t leave the fuck alone. But this musical comedy nonsense is so fucked even the Georgia legislature would think twice.

Phil Shaw