Reg Presley, lead singer of The Troggs, died yesterday.
The last – and probably first – word on The Troggs belongs to Lester Bangs in his great 1971 essay “James Taylor Marked For Death”. I was going to re-read it, scan it in and upload it here. But it was longer than I remembered and in the end I couldn’t be arsed.
Oh, all right – here are the first few pages. Although it’s quite a big file (24mb) it’s well worth downloading.
From what I recall Bangs basically banged on about how raw, unpretentious and pure The Troggs were. Precursors to The Stooges and punk and every bit as good and influential as the Nuggets garage bands of the 60s. Sexy too – but in a completely primal fashion. There was nothing seductive or mysterious about them, with many of their songs just laying it on the line, e.g. I Can’t Control Myself and Give It To Me.
Of course, The Troggs are mostly remembered these days for Love Is All Around (or at least Wet Wet Wet’s version) and Wild Thing. Although the latter song has undoubted credibility – not least as a result of Hendrix’s Monterey Festival endorsement – there’s a whiff of novelty surrounding the band. Something that wasn’t helped by the release of The Troggs Tapes (which features the band arguing in the studio in their yokely Hampshire accents) and Presley’s later, and much-publicised, obsession with crop circles.
Although I can’t go as far as Bangs did, The Troggs were – for a short time – a cracking little band. Fitting in somewhere between (or behind) The Kinks and The Who, but without an ounce of their artiness, they were basically the British response to Louie Louie.
My favourite of theirs though – and also their only number one – is With A Girl Like You. It has all the lustiness of their more base offerings but is tempered with at least a promise of romance: you get the sense here that Reg has more than just the one organ working.