Released on CD in 1995 by hip reissue label Parallel World, Jupiter Transmission collects tracks from Bobb Trimble's highly sought after self-released LPs from the dawn of the 1980's. At a time when New Wave, Punk, and PowerPop were ruling the charts and minds of the record consuming public, Bobb was producing minor classics of off-kilter acid folk/rock. It definitely has that 80's high tech sheen, w/ synthesizers and the new digital effects racks providing the same psychedelic atmosphere that mellotrons and tape loops did in the 60's 4-track studios of Abbey Road and Electric Lady.
Behind the actual music being played is usually a shifting mosaic of electronics, weird noises, voices from the aether, telephones, and other sounds. Though I'd imagine that the songs would be amazing in stripped down Bobb & guitar solo style, it's the intricate strange production that sends the music into the stratosphere. Every instrument and sound has nuances - lots of echo, backwards reverb, compression, flange, ad infinitum - studio tricks and experiments that move it out of this world. What sets Bobb apart is that all the over-the-top acid embellishments are restrained to perfect service of the song at hand, where they could otherwise easily turn into overburdening noise and mush. Like previous Featured Weirdos Freddy K and Keith Hemmerling, the songwriting is excellent in its own weird way - catchy melodies and hummable tunes that burrow into the subconcious, but coming from the edge of madness on the Other Side. Bobb's desperate multi-tracked falsetto vocals urge you join him on the journey one mile from Heaven.
And to give some history and context for the Jupiter Transmission, guest writer and righteous dude Kris Thompson (ex-Abunai!, The Lothars) provides a personal recollection (adapted from his liner notes to Orpheus Records' 2002 album of previously-unreleased material, Life Beyond The Doghouse) :
What, I ask you, can be said about Bobb Trimble that hasn't been said before? Gentlepersons, don't start your search engines…just mumble along in unison: "Umm…everything?"
Aye, verily; here's a chip off'n a rock tale too seldom told, although I'm hard-pressed to find anyone to blame for that. In fact, if a few hollow-eyed collectors hadn't honed in on his small-press cry from the DIY wilderness, these notes might still be swimming in my head instead of on the gramophone documentation now before you.
Besides, it's not like anyone else in the original Wormtown (Worcester, MA c.1977-1984) punk/weirdo scene ever made a truly national splash. The Unattached and The Odds (JJ Rassler's post-DMZ combo) came closest; besides, Bobb himself wasn't even really accepted in said scene-at-large until he'd hit the local club/warehouse/fairground circuit in '82 with the largely junior high-school Crippled Dog Band (context: Bobb was 24 at the time; loony tambourinist/howler Capt. PJ was thirty-something).
Before that, nuances of the odd onionskin layers of studio acid-folk heartbroken sound-dreams from his two self-released albums had fallen mostly upon punk-and-garage-rock-deafened ears…a real shame to be sure, but I can't even necessarily blame the newly punk-attuned, since they'd fought long and hard to cast off the yoke of 70s/80s arena/schmaltz oppression. To those for whom the urgency of punk and new/no-wave was a refreshing fix, Bobb's solo stuff may have been dismissed too readily as symbolic of the discarded "old guard".
While spirituality often had colored the musical impressions in Bobb's music, there was a time of such loneliness and despair for him that he'd taken solace in the calm soul of the hippy-Man-of-Nazareth – while also taking to recasting some of his work in such wistful stain-glasséd tones. He never proselytized openly about his beliefs, though; in fact, the other members of The Prefab Messiahs and I originally took to calling him "St. Bobb" just because of his otherworldly aura of enlightened naïvete. In any event, Orpheus is planning a series of Bobb-related discs, so eventually you'll be able to hear these songs in their original text-settings too. Despite the dissimilarities between Bobb's music and that of Wormtown-at-large, he was a big fan of the local scene, and became at least as caught up in its excitement as any other active participant. So, even as he proceeded to record a second solo album largely in his established style, he'd also convened a gaggle of Northborough, MA grade-schoolers (average age: 12) as "Bobb & The Kidds". Why? On one hand, it may have been his own interpretation of the "youth voice empowerment" flaunted by the newest breed of rock rebels. Then again, like many a beautiful dreamer (& even Whitney Houston), Bobb believed that "the children are the future" – and since he felt a sense of betrayal in suburban society's overt message that innocence and imagination weren't acceptable in its adult populace, forming The Kidds could have been his way of ducking a punch of that unfortunate reality.
At some point, though, parents of one of The Kidds became paranoid about this 23-year old "artistic type" (with no girlfriend) leading a rock band of young boys. The paranoia spread far enough that The Kidds soon were disbanded by a force more insidious than that of any record company – their parents! (The one surviving document of the group actually made it onto Bobb's second LP (Harvest Of Dreams; no label); "Oh Baby" sounds much like what The Shaggs might have if they'd been boys weaned on Kiss' Love Gun)
Determined not to be foiled, Bobb sought out a few slightly older (junior high) guys, and -- with "permission to rock" secured -- thus the Power Puff Boys…er, umm…the Crippled Dog Band – was formed! The band breathed some youth-slackened rock fire into some of Bobb's songs, wrote some new ones of their own (featured here on Side Two), and slipped in the occasional odd choice in Beatles covers. The name was inspired by drummer Steve Fouracre's three-legged dog "Boopsie" (shown on the LP art; Bobb claims that Boopsie somewhat mauled him during the photos you see here, but he claims so with just enough hint of a smirk and a would-be poker face that it's hard to take him seriously). Many Wormtonians may recall what was perhaps their greatest day in the sun -- their appearance at a WCUW event at E.M. Loew's Theater (now The Palladium) with The Nebulas, Performers, and Foamin Agents in February 1983. For the occasion, Bobb wore a top hat with bunny ears and a green satin coat, complete with bunny-tail.
So, gentle reader, stay tuned for further Weirdsville! archeology of the elusive aural bread-crumb trail of this man perpetually ahead of his time, outside of any time, and oft-seemingly (yet endearingly) out of his mind!
~ Kris Thompson, May 2002
And to help provide even more insight, collector/music writer Aaron Milenski gives us a more detailed interpretation of those transmissions from Jupiter:
"The moment you hear the first few notes of this album, you know you have entered a rarified musical universe as powerful and addictive as the world's most exotic food and drink. Jupiter Transmission, which compiles the majority of Bobb's two self-released albums, immediately sucks you into his world with his three strongest songs (the first three from his debut album, Iron Curtain Innocence.) Gorgeous folk-based melodies are accompanied by haunting and disorienting sound effects, small doses of mind-bending fuzz-guitar, lyrics from the depths of despair and Bobb's beautiful, almost feminine, voice. "Glass Menagerie Fantasies," with beautiful synthesizer playing and one of Bobb's eeriest melodies, packs a wallop, but is topped by the next two songs. "Night At The Asylum," in which the Wicked Witch of the West seeps her way into Bobb's brain as he sings from the rubber room, is a nightmare unparalleled in rock music. "When The Raven Calls" combines World War III lyrics, a mesmerizing chorus and a searing guitar riff. It's enough to melt your mind and take your breath away. Two more Iron Curtain Innocence songs and all but one track from his second album, Harvest of Dreams, follow. While the rest of Bobb's output can't hope to match the intensity of the first three masterpieces, it comes awfully close.
The remaining songs capture Bobb in a quieter musical disposition, but the depth of emotion remains the same, and he sustains an amazing quality of songwriting and mood throughout. If you need any lyrical clues that Bobb is as disturbed as his soundscapes, "Your Little Pawn" is the most masochistic song you'll ever hear, "If Words Were All I Had" the most despairing. Nontheless, Bobb's music offers glimmers of hope and spiritual beauty, most notably on the closing "One Mile From Heaven." Sadly, two excellent Iron Curtain Innocence songs have been omitted from Jupiter Transmission, which easily could have fit them in and kept within the bounds of reasonable CD length. Also, for some reason Bobb recorded two versions of the same song; "Premonitions" and "You're In My Dreams" differ only by the titles and the inclusion of a flute part on "Premonitions." It's a shame that the duplication occurs here while two strong songs have been left out.
Nonetheless, Jupiter Transmission is an utterly essential piece of modern psychedelia, bridging the 60s with the 80s without falling into the production traps of either era. In the 00s, it still sounds like nothing else, and it's bound to sound equally good in the 20s, the 40s, and beyond." - Aaron Milenski
ORDER 'JUPITER TRANSMISSION' ONLINE:
Just For The Record [$15.00+]
Heyday (UK) [£8+]
Forced Exposure [$15:00+]
J&R Music World [$13.99+]
BOBB TRIMBLE LINKS:
The Lama Reviews @ lysergia.com (in-depth essay on Harvest of Dreams by Aaron Mileski)
Psychedelic Music Database (Germany)
Orpheus Records (Denmark)
Bobb Trimble Radio Special 11/14/03 WZBC 90.3FM Newton, MA
(Hosted by, of course, Kris Thompson) Annotated Playlist
FEATURED ALBUM ARCHIVE:
Freddy K. and the Breeze - Random Enforcement
White Zombie - Soul Crusher
E Pak Sa - Encyclopedia of Pon-Chak
Keith Hemmerling - Fairies and Figurines
Bobb Trimble - Jupiter Transmission
William Hung - Inspiration
Dufus - 1:3:1
Jandek - Live at Instal.04
The Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra - Chariots of the Gods?
Ralph Records 10th Anniversary Radio Special