Bobb Trimble

Iron Curtain Innocence

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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason

The dirty secret behind the vast majority of Lost! Unheard! Masterpieces! is that the back story is almost always far more interesting than the music itself. Certainly that would appear to be the case with Bobb Trimble, an almost unknown singer/songwriter from blue-collar Worcester, MA, whose two albums' worth of surreal acid folk could not have been more out of step with their new wave times. Iron Curtain Innocence was originally released in a tiny vinyl pressing of between 300 and 500 copies and featured a disquieting cover image of the moon-faced Trimble sitting in front of a Sears Portrait Studio-style class photo backdrop, blankly holding both a guitar and a submachine gun, and everything about the album has an air of "that boy ain't right." Another major part of the Trimble legend -- that his live backing group, the Kidds, had an average age somewhere south of adolescence and was broken up by suspicious parents who didn't like this weird guy hanging around their children -- gives rise to darker mutterings and unsupported conjectures that have little to do with the music, and that's what it really boils down to: obscurantist cult records almost never have anything to do with the music, which almost invariably turns out to be considerably less interesting when listened to on its own merits.

Almost, that is. Because as it turns out, Iron Curtain Innocence turns out to be a really good piece of lo-fi psychedelia. In particular, the outstanding first three tracks, "Glass Menagerie Fantasies," "Night at the Asylum," and "When the Raven Calls," are an increasingly disturbing trilogy blending the druggy atmosphere of Pink Floyd's first few post-Syd Barrett albums, the gentle acoustic side of late-era Beatles, and some lo-fi synthesizers and tape loops, culminating in the disquieting climax of the epic "When the Raven Calls." Though the rest of the brief album doesn't quite live up to its outstanding first half, "Killed at the Hands of an Unknown Rock Starr" features some fine space rock guitar noodling and one of the helium-pitched Trimble's most assertive lead vocals, and "Through My Eyes (Hopeless as Hell: D.O.A.)" makes good use of backwards tapes and hand percussion.

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