Guide to British Music of the 1960s

 

The Troggs

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Reg Presley- vocals, Ronnie Bond- drums, Chris Britton- guitar, Pete Staples- bass

Hailing from Andover in Hampshire, the Troggs made a mark on the British music scene with a series of classic singles. Originally called the Troglodytes, the band was formed in 1964 when Singer and guitarist Dave Wright, bassist Reg Ball, Drummer Ronnie Bullis (Bond) and guitarist Howard Mansfield formed the band. However, both Mansfield and Wright soon left and they were replaced by Pete Staples and Chris Britton from another local band Ten Foot Five. Reg Ball moved from bass to vocals and, on the advice of journalist Keith Altham, changed his surname to Presley. The Troggs line-up was complete. Wright later joined the Loot. 

Larry Page became the band's manager at the beginning of 1966. The first single, Lost Girl, was released on the CBS label but failed to chart. Page secured a new two-single deal with Fontana. The first Fontana release was Wild Thing. This had been written by Chip Taylor for a group called the Wild Ones but Page heard the demo tape version and took the Troggs into the studio. The song was very different to anything else in the charts with its simple chords, suggestive lyrics and solo played on the ocarina. It was an instant hit reaching number two. The following single was written by Presley and was the group's only number one. With a Girl Like You is a quieter love song. While this topped the charts in the UK, the previous single was number one in the US, promoting a later and infamous cover version by Jimi Hendrix. However, the US situation was not helped by the fact that the Wild Thing single was released on both Atco and Mercury labels and that the scheduled follow-up, With a Girl Like You, was on the b-side!

The success of the Troggs encouraged Larry Page to set up his own record label Page One which was distributed by Fontana. The first Page One release was the superb I Can't Control Myself which continued the "risqu?quot; lyrics that were almost a Troggs trademark. The single was close to a record ban because of the ljne "your slacks are low and your hips are showing." Nevertheless, it reached number two in the UK charts. 

The band released two albums during 1966. From Nowhere was an excellent first effort and like its follow-up Trogglodynamite made the top ten. The hits kept arriving during 1967 with the likes of Anyway that You Want Me

Night of the Long Grass was an unusual track and it was probably the closest the Troggs were to psychedelia. It only reached number 17, the Troggs' worst showing since first charting but it remains worth checking out. Feels Like a Women also has a psychedelic feel though this track was not released until 1972. It appears on the Freakbeat Freakout compilation. 

Love is All Around reached number five in March 1968. This has since become one of the Troggs' best-known songs by virtue of a very poor cover version by Wet Wet Wet that topped the UK charts during the 1960s. Nevertheless, it did enable Presley to pick up a sizeable songwriting fee which he invested in crop circle research. 

Shortly afterwards, the Troggs stopped having hit singles. Pete Staples left the band and was replaced by Tony Newman who had previously been in Plastic Penny. The band split in 1969 with individual members making solo albums. Since then the Troggs have reformed from time to time. Ronnie Bond died in 1992. 

The Troggs' place in music history has been assured not just because of Wild Thing but also because of the Troggs Tapes." These were taken from a recording session in the mid-seventies when the band was recording Tranquility. The tapes are an argument between the band members about the song's arrangement and are rich in the use of vocabulary! The same approach was later taken by the legendary Spinal Tap and was featured in their rockumentary film of 1984. 

Reg Presley died on 4 February 2013. He had suffered from a stroke and lung cancer which led to his retirement from the Troggs in 2012.

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