Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your friend, Bobb

It´s surely a mark of genius when you put the following text on the back of your album (and in 1980 at that!): ´Dear John, Paul, George and Ringo, if I´m a good boy and work real hard, may I please be the 5th Beatle someday. Your friend, Bobb.´ Thanks to a recent short but intriguing post over at the Starmaker Machine blog, I recently discovered Bobb Trimble, a typical outsider artist.

Wikipedia has a fine definition of outsider music for us. "Outsider music are songs and compositions by musicians who are not part of the commercial music industry, who write songs that ignore standard musical or lyrical conventions, either because they have no formal training or because they disagree with formal rules. This type of music, which is often bizarre and emotionally stark, has few outlets; performers or recordings are often promoted by word of mouth or through fan chat sites, usually among communities of music collectors and music connoisseurs. Outsider musicians usually have much ´greater individual control over the final creative´ product either because of a low budget or because of their ´inability or unwillingness to cooperate´ with modifications by a record label or producer." Prime examples of outsider artists are Daniel Johnston (see my previous post), Florence Foster Jenkins, Skip Spence, Syd Barrett and The Shaggs.

A small town kid from Worcester, MA., Trimble sure fits that category very well. He played in a band in high school, wrote a couple of songs and when he was 22 years old, walked into a studio one day in 1980 and recorded the bulk of what turned out to be Iron Curtain Innocence. Luckily the engineer, a certain Don Christie, dug what Bobb was after and added many a fine effect tot Trimble´s songs. The result: intense neo-psychedelica, clearly influenced by the Beatles and Syd Barrett´s Pink Floyd, but also bringing Peter Hammill or Robyn Hitchcock to mind at times. When The Raven Calls is a fine example of that session. "When the raven calls, that´ll be World War 3..." Heavy stuff. But the fragile One Mile From Heaven, which was recorded at an earlier session and with a lot less sound effects, to me is the absolute highlight of the album. The impressive Killed By The Hands Of An Unknown Rock Starr (note the double R; this guy really had a Fab Four fixation...) stems from that time as well.

Trimble had about 300 copies of Iron Curtain Innocence pressed, but found there wasn´t a lot of interest in his particular brand of music at the time. Over the years, its legend slowly but surely grew though, and at one point vinyl copies went for ridiculous prices on Ebay when Bobb decided to sell the remainder of them, probably straight from a dusty box under his bed. A few semi-bootlegs did the rounds until Secretly Canadian records finally did the right thing in ´07 and released a proper version of Iron Curtain Innocence, with 3 home demo´s added on. Trimble made one more album by the way, Harvest Of Dreams, with a band called the Kidds (which was indeed made up of 12 and 13 year old kids), which I´m sure to be hunting down soon.

Bobb Trimble - One Mile From Heaven (Long Version) MP3
Bobb Trimble - Killed By The Hands Of An Unknown Rock Starr MP3
Bobb Trimble - When The Raven Calls MP3

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