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Life at 33 1/3   By Carl Meyer

 

From nowhere and back

The Troggs: From Nowhere – The Troggs (Fontana)

Why did it have to be troggs? (Quote from one of the World of Warcraft-dungeons.)

Troggs’ ‘“Wild Thing” is a magnificant garage rock classic - right up there with the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” Them’s “Gloria” and the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and “All Day And All Of The Night”.

Arriving on the scene in 1966 (after being signed by Kinks-manager Larry Page in 1965) the chaps from Andover were a little too basic in their approach to be taken seriously by the aficonados as rock was developing with lightning speed (and on lots of drugs). Sophisticated they were not, and neither was Larry Page, but they offered a monster riff and clung to it as if their lives depended on it. They sounded cheesy, old-fashioned, and very 1964/65. Hey, they even prefered scotch and beer to strange cigarettes and lysergics.

“Wild Thing” did come as some kind of relief to the young, fumbling musicians on both sides of the Atlantic who sure found it hard to copy what the big guys like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan were doing in the recording studios. “Wild Thing” was a totally different ball game, a dead simple riff, a galopping rhythm section slightly out of control, they could do that.

It hit the dance floors too, and it hit the fresh supply of teenyboppers who could not relate to all the strange new stuff going on. “Wild Thing” was easy to understand. It made parents want to lock up their daughters. Besides, it had that little novelty, the ocarina-solo played by musical director Colin Fretcher.

The Troggs wanted much more than they got. They needed the same trial and error phase that the established bands had gone through. But this wasn’t 1963-65, it was 1966-67, the train had left the station. It was all sitars and backwards guitars and weird cigarettes from here. The Troggs in their identical white pinstriped suits looked so out of place, so Butlins when the rest of the rock world was tripping among the galaxies. The Troggs wrote no epics, they found it hard enough to make their three-chord songs work.

But the Troggs were not stupid. They accepted their own limitations as musicians and turned it into a strength. Their playing is so wonderfully basic and minimalistic, the guitar playing anticipates both glam and metal, and then there’s Reg Presley’s voice, purring and sweet, but with a blood curdling scream up its sleeve that could scare the panties off a girl. Presley was an outstanding songwriter, and they were pretty good at choosing cover songs too.

“From Nowhere - The Troggs” is no classic, mind you, but it is a promising debut, the album already shows the group’s scope and potential. They range from pure garage rock (the galopping mock-Holly number “From Home” is a gas) through lazy strolling summer’s day pop (they do a marvellous job on Geno Washington’s “Hi Hi Hazel”) and they give the world its first taste of bubblegum (say hello to “Jingle Jangle”).

They would evolve significantly towards and into 1967, when elements of light psychedelia and British whimsy sneaked into their songs. The 1967-albums “Trogglodynamite” and “Cellophane” sound very cool today, but at the time they passed almost unnoticed.

Today The Troggs are mainly remembered for “Wild Thing” and the fact that they recorded the original of “Love Is All Around”, later made insanely famous by Wet Wet Wet.

A great pity. The Troggs were so much more than that. They released a handful of excellent singles in 1966-67 (the best of them all being “I Can’t Control Myself”, my, that scream!) plus three very solid albums.

Reg Presley left us earlier this year. Put “From Nowhere… The Troggs” on your turntable and remember him that way. Bless his memory.

Released: July 1966

Side 1

1.”Wild Thing” (Chip Taylor) — 2:34

2.”The Kitty Cat Song” (Jimmy Roach, Joe Spendel) — 2:11

3.”Ride Your Pony” (Naomi Neville) — 2:24

4.”Hi Hi Hazel” (Bill Martin, Phil Coulter) — 2:43

5.”I Just Sing” (Reg Presley) — 2:09

6.”Evil” (Shelby S. Singleton, Jr.) — 3:13

Side 2

1.”Our Love Will Still Be There” (Reg Presley) — 3:08

2.”Louie Louie” (Richard Berry) — 3:01

3.”Jingle Jangle” (Reg Presley) — 2:26

4.”When I’m With You” (Reg Presley) — 2:23

5.”From Home” (Reg Presley) — 2:20

6.”The Jaguar and the Thunderbird” (Chuck Berry) — 2:01

Line-up:

Reg Presley (Lead vocals)

Chris Britton (Lead guitar)

Pete Staples (Bass guitar)

Ronnie Bond (Drums)
 


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From nowhere and back