Better Late Than Never
A generation ago, long before blogs and MP3s made discovering music an instantaneous act, a young Massachusetts musician named Bobb Trimble issued two obscure psychedelic pop opuses—1980’s deeply troubled Iron Curtain Innocence and 1982’s fantastical Harvest of Dreams—then promptly disappeared into years of odd jobs and isolation.
Now, after 25 years, the cryptic tunesmith with the otherworldly tenor is getting a deluxe reissue treatment and, at last, a chance to reach an audience beyond the cult of loyal listeners who have paid thousands of dollars for the few hundred copies of his self-ﬁnanced LPs.
“It started out that I was almost begging people to take my albums,” Trimble recalls. “I wasn’t even asking them for any money. I was trying to give them away, hoping that people would listen to them. There were some people that wouldn’t even take them off my hands.”
Though he received some local radio play and received a few positive reviews, Trimble was plagued by bad luck. His single “Killed by the Hands of an Unknown Rock Starr” came back from the record company with a loud popping sound. The cover for Harvest of Dreams—a photo of Trimble kneeling beside a unicorn-goat—returned from the printing press with a black inkblot over his face. He had trouble keeping bands together, and it was impossible to do justice to his complex arrangements with nothing more than an acoustic guitar. He eventually started a band with pre-teen players and another called the Crippled Dog Band, but by the late ’80s, he seemed destined for little more than local-curiosity status.
And yet, just as he drifted out of music, the albums he’d passed out started falling into the right hands. His songs found their way to internet radio, where they were discovered by Chris Welz of Secretly Canadian, the indie label that is now releasing both of Trimble’s seminal albums on CD with their original artwork and bonus tracks. “We couldn’t place it,” Welz says. “We couldn’t ﬁgure out where it was from or if it was real— like, ‘Is this just some guy saying it was put out in 1980 when it was really put out last week?’”
Completely out of his original LPs and having lived without any instruments until recently, Trimble seems both humbled and bafﬂed by his cult audience. Even with fans from Japan to Norway clamoring for him to perform his lost classics once again, he seems in no hurry to make up for lost time. “My personal life is very private to me, but I don’t want to get isolated, either. I’m not ready for the transition,” he says somberly before admitting that at least his listeners will no longer have to comb online auctions to ﬁnd his albums. “This might solve that once and for all.”