10 Essential 1960’s Songs From The Troggs

The Troggs Songs

Photo: By Photographer: Jac. de Nijs (ANEFO) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Songwriters can be grouped into roughly two categories. The first is the pioneers, The Beatles White Album types who disappear into recording studios for weeks on end and return with a record that is in equal measure weird, unfamiliar and alluring. The second is the producers, those who simply take the best of what is around and do it better; of those two categories The Troggs are definitely in the latter.

That´s not to say that The Troggs were not influential. They are the godfathers of the Mod-Rock, both in its original sixties form and the later eighties revival. Their garage anthems are still as fresh, raw and energetic as they were when they were released. It is just that, compared to many of their peers, the Troggs were simplistic. Their lyrics were rarely incisive or profound in the way that The Kinks were. They rarely experimented with their songs in the way that The Beatles did nor did they consistently push the boundaries of what could or could nor be done in music.

What The Troggs did have was a sound. A huge, distinctive and influential sound. Grouching guitar riffs, raunchy broken-glass vocals and an incessant deafening cave man percussionist. They got loud. It was a sound that was imitated by many but achieved by so few. It was the sound that gave The Troggs a lasting influence on bands like The Stooges, The Ramones, The Jam and Jimi Hendrix.

Formed in the mid-sixties in a small village, Andover, near Hampshire. The Troggs were originally comprised of childhood friends Ron Presley (Vocals) and Ronnie Bond (Drums), Peter Staples (Bass) and Chris Britton (Guitar). Larry Page, the then manager of The Kinks, signed them to Page One Records in 1965 a year after their inception in 1964. The relationship was hugely commercially successful. Between 1965 and 1968 the band had a series of top ten hits and sold millions of records in both the United Kingdom and America. Here are ten of the best Troggs songs.

# 10 – Love is all around

This song was somewhat ruined for me by the Wet Wet Wet cover from the mid-nineties. A chart topping atrocity that dominated the UK radio-waves for 15 weeks. The original version was released in 1967. It is a silky smooth four note progression with sickly sweet vocal drizzled on a unnervingly catchy guitar hook. The song´s simple childish lyrics captured the spirit of the sixties free-love experiment perfectly: young, sweet, innocent and naive. “Love is All Around,” is one of the Troggs´ better known efforts which gets in your head and stays there.

# 9 – With a girl like you

In the mid-sixties a plethora of British Rock bands had a series of top ten hits in the United States Billboard top 100. It was a movement that was dubbed The British Invasion. A musical phenomenon that was characterized by bands like The Kinks, The Who and The Small Faces. If the influx of British Rock Music on American soil was indeed an invasion. The Troggs´ “With a Girl like You” was the song leading the ships.

“With a Girl like You,” is a two minute master-class in pop songwriting. A beautiful looping melody with a call and response between Presley´s torn vocal and the bands softer backing singers. The song´s lyrical themes of shyness, youth and romance contrast with Presley´s lusty, repressed, vocal to produce an intriguing representation of teenage angst. It charted at number one in the UK singles chart and stayed there for two weeks. In the US the song reached an impressive 19th in the billboard top 100. “With a Girl Like You,” was the British Invasion at its finest. It was a song that resonated with a youth culture that was beginning to find its feet in the dance halls across the UK and America.

 # 8 – I can only give you everything

Iggy Pop is one of many rock and roll legends to have cited The Troggs raw aggressive sound as an important influence in their own song making. One can´t help but imagine a teenage Iggy Pop bouncing around to the powerful driven guitar riff and pounding drums on “I Can Only Give You Everything.” The song was originally released by THEM, fronted by Van Morrison, in 1966 but The Troggs´ interpretation is the more memorable.

“I Can Only Give You Everything.” is a stripped, raw and aggressive rock song. Distorted snarling guitar lines, relentless drums, and driven bass line provide a backdrop for the force of nature that is Presley´s vocal; a gravelly, insatiable howl. The highlight of the song is in the last thirty seconds when The Troggs truly give you everything. A wild double-time rockabilly explosion that unleashes Presley´s carnal scream.

# 7 – Your Love

“Your Love,” is a classic example of the British Invasion sound. The irrepressible guitar riff is wonderfully simple. The vocals are a simple repetition of your love which jumps an octave as the song progresses. The constant repetition of the same phrase in increasingly frustrated tones was a technique that became a template for many eighties punk bands including the RAMONES. “Your Love,” is The Troggs accepting who they are. A simple but infectious track with heaps of sexual tension, sexual frustration and adolescent desire.

# 6 – Give it to me

“Give it me,” added a psychedelic edge to the bands existing garage rock repertoire. The song builds and builds. It progresses through the bass. A progression that starts as a constant driven note and develops throughout the song into a smooth, rhythmic bass line. A simple melodic hook, repeated over and over as the band get progressively louder was a staple of the Troggs instantly recognizable sound. It communicates a rising sexual tension that was a central tenet of the Troggs´ repress and release sound.

# 5 – The Night of The Long Grass

“The Night of The Long Grass,” is a moody, atmospheric and eerie song. Gothic high pitch backing vocals haunt the songs simple guitar riff. “Night of the Long Grass,” is a reflective lyrical song that communicate a haunting solitude. Singer Ron Presley struggles to get to grips with a brief encounter at night and yet never quite manages. “The Night of The Long Grass,” is about loss and uncertainty, appearance and deception and is one of the Troggs´ more considered songwriting efforts.

# 4 – Come Now

“Come Now,” is the Troggs at their hard hitting best. A stripped back beast of grumbling bass, electrifying guitar and snarling vocals. Ron Presley is at his best when expressing carnal emotion and repressed desire. Here, he growls, screams and howls his way through this four minute power anthem, becoming increasingly unhinged as the song reaches its sublime climax.

# 3 – I just Sing

Similar to “The Night of the Long Grass,” “I Just Sing,” is one of the more experimental songs of the Troggs´ catalogue. The addition of the gypsy inspired organ and rolling drums is reminiscent of some of The Doors´ better works. The fuzzy eastern inspired guitar solo is a work of genius and elevates this song to a level above many of its peers.

# 2 – I Can’t control myself

In a generation of free love “I Can’t Control Myself,” was a song about teenage angst. The cave-man rock classic has had lasting influence in both garage rock and punk. It was covered by The Ramones who interpreted its expression of uncontrollable desire as a lasting tribute to youth culture beyond just the sixties. From the opening howl to the songs final bar, “I Can’t Control Myself,” builds sexual tension throughout. A timeless youth anthem.

# 1 – Wild Thing

“Wild Thing´s” opening guitar lick, a distorted squealing note descending into a primal three chord riff, hits you with all the power of a high speed freight train. Written by Chip Taylor and originally released by the Wild Ones in 1965. It is the Troggs´ 1966 rendition that lives long in the memory. The taut, lust driven yelping interchanges effortlessly with a breathy, thin, seductive vocal on the bridge and chorus. It was a song that was made for a big sound and the Troggs had the biggest. Rolling Stone featured “Wild Thing,” in their top 500 rock songs of all time.

At Woodstock Jimi Hendrix introduced the song as the UK and America´s joint national anthem before famously setting fire to his guitar. I mentioned at the beginning of this piece that The Troggs weren’t trailblazers like so many sixties rock bands, they were simply the best at doing what they did. “Wild Thing” is the perfect exposition of this idea. The heavy, “caveman-rock” is a staple of garage rock and rightfully takes the number one slot on our list.

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