The Troggs - Biography
By Nick Castro
The Troggs are one of those bands from the 60's that are often associated with one overwhelming hit. In their case it is the song, "Wild Thing". From the opening bent guitar note, the song is instantly recognizable and is often categorized as a garage punk record. Definitely there are comparison to be made in the sounds of The Troggs and the punk movement of a decade later, but when taking into scope the entire body of work from this pioneering group of musicians, they are definitely a band of their own era. The band never did crossover, in popularity, to the US markets, though they had a string of hits in their home country, England.
The leaders of the The Troggs, singer Reg Presley and guitar player Chris Britton, were creating songs, which the UK government deemed inappropriate for radio. often sue to the supposedly suggestive rhythms and lyrics. Regardless of this setback, the group scored big with songs like "Love is All Around", "I Can't Control Myself", "Anyway That You Want Me", "With a Girl Like You" and "Give It To Me". Hailing from Andover, England, the group, once signed, consisted of members, Presley and Britton as well as Pete Staples on bass and Ronnie Bond on drums, though when the bend were originally conceived, in 1964, they were still known as The Troglodytes, then consisting of members Dave Wright singing and playing guitar, Reg Ball playing bass, the he would change his last name to Presley and later sing for the band, Howard Mansfield on guitar and Ronnie Bullis, later known as Ronnie Bond, on drums.
The Troggs' first recording was a single called "Lost Girl", for the CBS label in 1966, which was kindly, if not mildly, received by the media and record buying public, but it was their next single, "Wild Thing", for the Fontana label, and their subsequent appearance on the television show Thank Your Lucky Stars, that quickly catapulted them young group into stardom. Soon, their debut album, From Nowhere (1966 - Fontana), which contained many of their early hits. The American release of the album had a different cover and selection of songs. Some of the moments of this album are of pedestrian quality, like their covers of "Louie Louie" and "Jaguar and Thunderbird" but overall, these recording represented a break from the sounds that were coming out of England at the time. They struck a chord with the youth driven music fans, who were seeking a sound to match their raw energy. The blisteringly fuzzed guitar and brash vocals. Unfortunately, the UK version of the record omitted songs like "I Want You", "With a Girl Like You" and "Lost Girl", which were included on the US version. These songs were released as singles in the UK.
The next year, The Troggs released the albums Trogglodynamite (1967 -Page One) and Cellophane (1967 - Page One). Although "Wild Thing" scored big in the US, and is still played regularly on the radio, the band did not make it across the pond to perform until 1968. By then, much of the steam they had originally built up, was largely dissipated. Trogglodynamite, their second LP, was not released in the US. It is the first to feature many group compositions. The album lacked the biting guitar sounds of their debut effort and failed to capture the attention of the public in any kind of meaningful way, but the band already had enough of a reputation in their home country to still be considered stars. The only songs from this album to be featured in the US is the song, "Cousin Jane". Cellophane is the third album by the group, and again was not issued in the US. Even though the record is not considered strong in and of itself, original copies of the LP now circulate for high sums of money of the collector markets due to its rarity. This album did contain their hit single, "Love is All Around", which found the group taking a soft pop turn.
The next record by The Troggs is Love Is All Around (1968 - Fontana), was the group's US release of their prior UK work. This version of the album contained the song "Night of the Long Grass" finds the band making brilliant strides toward a darker sound, with almost mystical overtones.
By 1969, The Troggs were suffering from a waning audience as well as conflicts within their own ranks. The strain proved to be too much and the band parted ways. Ronnie Bond made an attempt at a solo career, beginning with the single "Anything For You". Chris Britton released a solo album and Reg presley recorded the song "Lucinda Lee". None of the members found individual success either.
In the 70's the began to gain a growing cult status, in no small part from something that appeared on the bootleg market; the infamous Troggs Tapes, which found the band swearing like made and arguing during a recording session. This reinforced people's images of the group as a gang of ruffians. The band made an attempt at reunification and attempted to capture some of the energy they had, so naturally, in the mid 60's. They released the album The Trogg Tapes (1976 - Penny Farthing), not to be confused with the earlier mentioned bootleg release. The band can be heard working out a proto-new wave sound on this disc but still maintaining many of the moves that made their early career a hit.
In the 90's The Troggs made an album, in collaboration with members of the American band R.M.M., called Athens Andover (1992 - Rhino), which many have claimed, is actually one of the band's better records, regardless of what one may naturally assume would be the product of a collaboration project, thirty years after the fact. The Troggs tried to make further collaborations, especially with versions of their classic song, "Wild Thing", but nothing really caught a hold of the public.
The Troggs can be heard on countless compilations and are often mentioned in musicians' top lists of bands from the rock era. Often lumped in with one-hit-wonders, the group have manage to carve out a cult niche for themselves, which has endured through multiple generations of rock music lovers. On February 4, 2013, lead singer Reg Presley died of lung cancer. He was 71.