If you travel south~west out of London from a distance of about 66 miles along the B3400 you will come to a town called Andover ~ the home of legendary pop group The TROGGS.
In 1966 the population of Andover boasted around 19,000 people and amongst them was one Reg Ball ~ lead singer of this raw new caveman rock group called The Troggs and band members Chris Britton on guitar, Pete Staples on bass and last but not least Ronnie Bond on drums.
Their debut 45 single was just about to be released on Fontana Records and was called ‘ Lost Girl ‘ . This great slab of garage rock would miss the charts by a mile! and that could have been the end of their career in pop music had it not been for Larry Page who looked like Michael Caine’s brother and had been involved in managing the Kinks before starting his own record label called Page One Records.
Reg Ball at this time was a bricklayer and was told by Page to change his surname to Presley because it was more showbiz and he also presented them with a demo song to learn by American songwriter Chip Taylor ( brother of actor John Voight ) and it was called ‘ Wild Thing ‘. Chip Taylor also wrote ‘ Angel of the Morning ‘ . The song had been released in 1965 in America by Jordan Christopher & the Wild Ones which is very different to the Troggs version but good, more kind of hippy folky.
The Troggs primitive style turned ‘ Wild Thing ‘ into a world beater hitting the charts in both the UK and the USA. The Troggs version is not that different to Chip Taylor’s version but the songwriter rates the Troggs version as the best!
Hedgehoppers Anonymous also recorded the song, but they tried to make it sound too musical by trying to sing it and it was diabolical. Later in the 60’s Jimi Hendrix turned it into his own song when he played his dramatic psychedelic version at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Next release for the Troggs was the No. 1 hit ‘ With A Girl Like You’ which was recorded at the same session as ‘ Wild Thing ‘ in fact both songs were recorded in 45 minutes at the end of a Larry Page Orchestra session with both songs becoming hits. Reg says he got fed up with appearing on Top of the Pops the chart TV show.
September 1966 saw ‘ I Can Control Myself ‘ with it’s risky lyrics given restricted air play on the BBC and being completely banned in Australia, but still it was a hit ! Followed by the beautiful ‘ Anyway That You Want Me ‘ another Chip Taylor song hit the chart in December making 1966 a mighty memorable year for the boys!
1967 saw the suggestive ‘ Give It To Me ‘ and ‘ Night of the Long Grass ‘ both charting high in the first half of the year and 1968 produced the classic flower powered ‘ Love Is All Around ‘ become a monster hit which was written by Reg Presley who was turning into a hit songwriter himself. In 1994 Wet Wet Wet record a hit version of the song which was also featured in the mega movie ‘ Four Weddings and a Funeral ‘ all of which did very nicely for Mr. Presley’s bank balance, interestly Reg said he spent most of the money on researching crop circles ?
Maybe the Troggs are best remembered in some circles for the Spinal Tap inspired ‘ The Troggs Tapes ‘ a 12 minute studio argument in which drummer Ronnie Bond can’t quite get the beat right on a new song and has the rest of the band criticizing him and he can be heard saying ‘ I know it’s not right ~ and I’m the one playing it!
Hearing all these songs again makes me kinda glad that Reg the Pres didn’t throw in the trowel all those years ago because who would have the Ramones got their inspiration from and many other bands. Reg Presley passed away on Feb. 5th 2013.
Andover and the Troggs rule ~ you better believe it !