Rediscovering Bobb Trimble's long-lost legacy

Tape delay
By LIZ PELLY  |  July 27, 2011

[EXCLUSIVE VIDEO] When the Phoenix visited Bobb Trimble at his home in Boston, Trimble performed this acoustic version of "One Mile from Heaven," from his 1980 record Iron Curtain Innocence. 

On the fringes
of Boston, Bobb Trimble lives alone in a three-room apartment he shares with only his orange-and-white cat, Darling. The 52-year-old psych-pop musician raised in Worcester estimates he's moved around Massachusetts 49 times, never leaving the Bay State but landing everywhere from Marlborough to Quincy to Roxbury.

Now settled in Chelsea, the man long considered an outsider in the Northeast music scene is experiencing an unlikely renaissance. It began in 2007, when Indiana label Secretly Canadian re-released two of his albums recorded three decades ago: 1980's Iron Curtain Innocence and 1982's Harvest of Dreams. Over the years, those two haunting psychedelic pop records have earned Trimble an underground following amongst dedicated record collectors, and psych-folk fans, as well as lo-fi innovator Ariel Pink and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. Original pressings have been sold for as much as $1500.

With the help of Los Angeles re-issue label Yoga Records, Trimble is celebrating the re-release of his third full-length, the long-lost The Crippled Dog Band at Great Scott on Thursday, July 28. Recorded in 1983 with a rag-tag collection of teenagers but discarded when Trimble, upset by the group's sudden disbanding, tossed the entire 500-count pressing into a dumpster, it's finally getting a proper release exactly one week before his 53rd birthday.

"The resurgence of interest came up out of nowhere," said Trimble earlier this month, sitting atop a brown chest of drawers and among wood planks and ladders in his under-construction living room. "It surprised me more than anybody else."

The smell of Formula 409 fills the big, dusty room. Darling and the neighbor's two cats crawl around as he discusses his past jobs working at convenience shops and department stores, and his current gig as a delivery person for a catering company. But mainly he wants to talk about music: Worcester's scene in the '80s, his love for the Beatles and the Monkees, and how a group of kids who were regulars at the bike shop Trimble worked for as a twentysomething formed the Crippled Dog Band in 1983, recording an album of the same name. Around his living space are stacks of tapes, burned Beatles CDs, and Beatles biographies.

The walls of his rooms are adorned with concert posters and a framed Prefab Messiahs 7-inch, but original copies of his own '80s records are nowhere to be seen. "I think there were only 300 copies of Iron Curtain Innocence pressed and there were 200 waiting to be picked up, but they had a fire at the record plant, Plastics Corporation. I guess anything and everything was destroyed."

Trimble admits it was difficult self-releasing quirky, outsider-pop in the '80s, but the Internet has generated new interest in his craft. He originally gave away copies of his records simply because he couldn't sell them. But in 2011, "outsider" music is easier for fans to find online. "It's not obscure anymore," he says. "It's right there. You can access it with the push of a button."

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