|Bobb Trimble, who trashed hundreds of copies of one of his old albums in the ’80s, has been surprised by the renewed interest. (Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe)|
Trimble’s surprising smash
His obscure albums from the ’80s have found a new audience
BROOKLINE - Back when Marlborough native Bobb Trimble was drifting through the decades - working as a mover, a postal worker, a convenience store clerk - he never imagined that the pair of obscure albums he had recorded and released in the early 1980s would one day be trading hands among record collectors for hundreds of dollars apiece.
There weren’t very many LPs pressed - somewhere between 300 and 500 copies each of the 1980 “Iron Curtain Innocence’’ and 1982’s “Harvest of Dreams’’ - but their scarcity only made them more valuable and sought-after. Then there was the music - an intriguing blend of pastoral folk-rock, cracked psychedelia, and songs fanciful and full of dark daydreams, all of it topped off by Trimble’s trilling, elfin voice. “My grandfather gave me a stamp collection and I mailed all the albums using the stamp collection,’’ Trimble, who’s about to turn 53, says over afternoon coffee in Coolidge Corner. “Every radio station in America probably got one, courtesy of my grandfather.’’
When local psychedelic music maven Kris Thompson first heard “Iron Curtain Innocence’’ after meeting Trimble one night in 1980 at the Clark University radio station in Worcester, he was both impressed and fooled by the singer-songwriter’s music.
“He gave me a copy of his record and signed it and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy made his own record!’ ’’ recalls Thompson, who would soon start bands of his own, the Prefab Messiahs, and later, the Boston psych-rock explorers Abunai! “I brought it back to my dorm room and put it on, and at first I thought I had it on 45 [r.p.m.] because of the high singing. That was my introduction to it.’’ More than two decades later, in 2007, Thompson was instrumental in getting both of Trimble’s albums reissued on CD and LP by Secretly Canadian Records, a move that made Trimble’s work available (and affordable) to the general public for the first time. Now, there’s more music on the way.
Next Tuesday, Trimble will finally release “The Crippled Dog Band,’’ a previously unissued record from 1984 that Thompson describes as his friend’s “lost third album.’’ “Lost’’ is the operative word here. The songs, more rambunctious and harder-rocking than those on his previous albums, throb with phased electric guitars, strange video game effects, and exhilarating abandon. And they might never have been heard.
When his Worcester-based Crippled Dog Band (named after a three-legged neighborhood dog called “Boopsie’’) splintered and split up - the rest of the group’s average age was around 15 - Trimble was so upset that he threw all 500 copies of the newly pressed LP into an office park dumpster. Thankfully, in a calmer state of mind, Trimble saved the master tapes of those recording sessions. (In 2002, a record label in Denmark issued a handful of Crippled Dog tracks as part of a Trimble compilation; but Tuesday’s release on Yoga Records, an LA-based reissue specialty label, marks the first time the disc has been issued in its entirety).
“I never really thought I’d be talking about this album at all, to tell you the truth,’’ says Trimble. “It’s like a little dream come true. I’m glad that I waited because it’s the difference between night and day. It sounds so much better now [remastered] than it did then. I feel completely connected to it.’’ A record-release show for “The Crippled Dog Band’’ is set for Thursday at Great Scott, which will feature a performance by the singer-songwriter’s latest venture, Bobb Trimble’s Flying Spiders. The new outfit includes, among others, Thompson, who has since become his bandmate and manager.
“You’re doing the songs you did 30 years ago,’’ Trimble says with a sense of bemused wonder to his voice. “And it feels like you just walked back in time - and there they are.’’
As for tossing all those records in the trash that dismal day? It seemed, he says, like a perfectly reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. “My band had broken up and it was smash city,’’ says Trimble. “After a band you’re with for a long time breaks up, it makes you angry and you have to vent somehow. I heard [John] Lennon did the same thing.’’
Jonathan Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.