17 December 2010

TGIF Rock-n-Roll Oldies: The Troggs - 1966/67

The Troggs are an English rock band from the 60s known for timeless hits "Wild Thing", "Love Is All Around" and "With a Girl Like You", all million-selling singles.

The Troggs were from the town of Andover in southern England (originally The Troglodytes). The band formed in 1964, and were discovered by The Kinks' manager Larry Page the next year. 

The most famous hit was surely the single "Wild Thing", #2 in the UK and #1 in the United States in July 1966. Its combination of a simple heavy guitar riff and flirtatious lyrics helped it to quickly become a garage rock standard. It was recorded in one complete take at Olympic Studios in London. Oddly -and due to a dispute over US distribution rights- "Wild Thing" was released (along with the first album of the same name) on two seperate labels: Fontana and Atco. 

The band's success in the US was limited by not touring there until 1968, but they continued with a number of other hits such as "With a Girl Like You" (a UK #1 in July 1966, US#29) and "I Can't Control Myself" (UK #2 in September 1966).

Then came "Anyway That You Want Me" (UK #10 in December 1966), "Night of the Long Grass" (UK #17 in May 1967), and "Love Is All Around" (UK #5 in October 1967 and US number 7 in May 1968). 

With further chart success eluding the band, they split up in March 1969. But after a couple solo efforts, the band reformed with a cover version of the Beach Boys hit "Good Vibrations" that  unfortunately did not catch-on. Then, a reggae version of "Wild Thing" also failed to chart.

In 1991, The Troggs recorded Athens Andover, an eleven-song collaboration between themselves and three members of R.E.M., released in March 1992. The Troggs then tried to make the most of the new exposure with bizarre collaborations on new versions of "Wild Thing", milking it dry with actor Oliver Reed, English snooker player Alex Higgins, then yet anther version the following year featuring Wolf from the TV show Gladiators, which actually reached #69 in the UK.

Today, The Troggs are considered a highly influential band whose sound was one inspiration for garage rock and punk rock. Iggy Pop, The Buzzcocks, and American trailblazers The Ramones all cite them as a significant influence.

Jimi Hendrix also famously covered "Wild Thing" during their appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, introducing it as the British/American joint "national anthem", and climaxing with Hendrix burning his guitar... an iconic moment.