Bobb Trimble & The Crippled Dog Band – The Crippled Dog Band

January 01, 1970



It takes some grapefruit-sized balls to kick off an album
with a radical reworking of a Beatles nugget; but then, cult artist Bobb
Trimble never seemed to worry too much about what the outside world thought of
him. The evidence here – a cover of “All Together Now,” guaranteed to leave Beatles
purists aghast, as it’s transmogrified into a loony garage romp, complete with
a new verse in which he and his combo chant/bark “it’s a Crippled dog anthem – ruf! ruf!” – is bolstered by the
record’s back story, and Trimble’s, too.


Pop/psych savant Trimble, for the uninitiated, operated in
and around Worcester, Mass., in decidedly below-the-radar fashion during the
post-punk early/mid ‘80s, with both Iron
Curtain Innocence
(1980) and Harvest
of Dreams
(1982) getting miniscule 500-copy pressings that, naturally, sold
zip but eventually fell into the hands of tastemaker fans such as Thurston
Moore. With the buzz building incrementally but steadily, both records saw
reissue on CD by Secretly Canadian in 2007 and were duly hailed by the press
(including yours truly) as true rock ‘n’ roll gems, part-outsider art and part
pure pop for zowie people. Over the years there have also been a couple of
compilations of material from the two albums which help further the Trimble
legend. Meanwhile, back in the ‘80s, Trimble continued writing and recording
and occasionally performing, in particular with a young high school outfit
called the Crippled Dog Band, who may have been low on chops but high in (on)
the kind of enthusiasm that could help bring Trimble’s twisted fever dreams to
fruition onstage.


The resulting The
Crippled Dog Band
album, however, released in ’83 in yet another 500-copy
custom pressing, was accompanied by the group’s splintering, and as legend has
it, a frustrated Trimble toted the whole lot off to an office park dumpster and
said adios. If this were a Hollywood
biopic, Trimble would have also thrown himself into the nearby river, but luckily
the indie rock world ain’t Hollywood, and Trimble remains active to this day –
you can check out his website and Facebook pages – albeit still in relatively
under the radar fashion.


The Crippled Dog Band isn’t
nearly as suffused with the sonic charm that marked his ’80 and ’82 albums, and
it’s somewhat lo-fi, sounding more like a live rehearsal session with a few
subsequent overdubs rather than a fully-fleshed-out studio project. Yet the
record’s own charms gradually begin to emerge from the haze after a couple of
spins, not the least of which is a kind of thematic teenage funhouse vibe
that’s framed by an “Intro” and “Outro” each comprising vintage video game
noises. Step into that funhouse – or ascend up the ladder into the treehouse,
take your pick – and be privy to such rough-hewn delights as the Hendrixian
aquatica of “Live Wire” and the lengthy (6 mins.) interstellar blooze (complete
with cosmic lyrics and a woozy harp) of “Armour Of The Shroud,” plus
absurdo-Prog love song titled “The Camel Song” and a Zappaesque slice of
fuzzarama, “Angel Eyes.”


Admittedly, the arrangements are all over the place; tempos
often waver over the course of a song; vocals veer from Trimble’s sensitive
warble to a mélange of voices that can only charitably be described as
“harmonies.” But there’s a quality to The
Crippled Dog Band
that’s hard to resist: it is the spontaneous sound of
kids unleashed with their instruments and a tape deck rolling, mindful of
nothing but the sheer visceral – and karmic – buzz of creating a righteous rock
‘n’ roll racket. Hey, if you think YOU can do better, pal, go make your OWN recording,
and then wait and see if people are interested in writing about it nearly three
decades later!


Hats off to the Yoga label, which specializes in unearthing
rare gems and private pressing obscurities and giving them a proper reissue
treatment, for rescuing this album from the musical dumpster of time.


Of The Shroud,” “Angel Eyes,” “All Together Now” FRED MILLS

Bobb Trimble: You Should See My Girl, live, 1983 from Yoga Records on Vimeo.

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