The Troggs’ Reg Presley (1941-2013): An Appreciation

So many musicians are leaving us far too soon, and the latest legend handed a ticket to rock and roll heaven is Reg Presley, lead singer of the Troggs, who passed away February 7, 2013 from lung cancer. Although it was no secret he was ill, as his condition was made public, it’s hard to believe he is gone. Some performers seem simply immortal, and Reg was one of them.

Formed 1964 in Andover, England, the Troggs flaunted a fondness for the raunchy ribbings of fellow Brits such as the Kinks, the Pretty Things and the Rolling Stones. By assuming these influences and exaggerating the raw and racy aspects, the band produced a sound that was even more menacing than their idols.

Those looking for a comprehensive overview of the Troggs should look no further than Archeology: 1966-1976 (Polygram Records, 1992). Sequenced in chronological order, this double-disc collection also includes a hefty booklet of the band’s history.

There’s no denying “Wild Thing” is the song the Troggs are mainly recognized for, which is of course featured on this package. Sprinting to the #1 position on the charts in the summer of 1966, the star-studded tune totally represents the vision and verve of the band.

Reg’s saucy sneer, oozing with carnal hunger, stands as a perfect match for the clanging guitars and thudding drums bashing and thrashing about. A wickedly primitive piece of music “Wild Thing” may be, but the Troggs were clever enough to stick the whistling burr of an ocarina in the middle of the track that keenly temper the hot and horny pleadings with a left-field slant.

The other song the band is forever associated with is “Love Is All Around,” which gripped the top ten early in 1968. Blissful and breezy, the romantic ballad proved to be quite uncharacteristic for the Troggs, but by no means were they going soft, for as Archeology: 1966-1976 ensures, their catalog is dominated by steamy stompers.

Generated by groves of galloping rhythms, “Lost Girl” rips with power and passion in the best garage rock tradition, where “I Can’t Control Myself” and “Strange Movies” spit and sizzle with battery-charged bluster. Dictated by streams of stinging fuzztone fervor, a cover of Them’s “I Can Only Give You Everything” further appears on Archeology: 1966-1976 along with “Gonna Make You,” “I Want You,” “66-5-4-3-2-1,” “That’s What You Get Girl” and “Come On Now” that drip with lusty smirks and crackling energy.

On the rare occasions the Troggs strolled beyond the sleaze turf, they never failed to spawn interesting equations. Slathered in a boiling bath of screaming feedback and hammering beats, “Feels Like A Woman” blends the heavy metal thunder of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath into a single file, and then the Beach Boys are honored on an engagingly enigmatic rendition of “Good Vibrations,” which the lyrics are practically whispered and purred while the band doles out dashes of weird electronic beeps. The psychedelic-salted “Purple Shades” is a real nugget, and the haunting “When Will The Rain Come” bristles with eerie atmospherics.

Brimming with three-chord masterstrokes, Archeology: 1966-1976 continually illustrates what a fantastic band the Troggs were. Spontaneous but tight, their attitude smacked of enthusiasm. Realizing rock and roll is supposed to be fun and entertaining, they didn’t take themselves too seriously. The Troggs played music because they wanted to, and it’s easy to hear how they enjoyed doing so.

A timeless quality pervades the material on Archeology: 1966-1976, as catchy, bare-boned rock and roll remains ageless. It was not a goal of the Troggs to create revolutionary music, but their minimal approach was so contagious and effective that it inspired flocks of kids to follow their footsteps and put together bands of their own. Frequently cited as the godfathers of punk rock, the band truly deserves the title.

Here’s a big thanks to Reg and the Troggs for their cool music. The world is a better place due to their existence, and their spirit lives on eternally!

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.