The English singer and songwriter Reg Presley (above, far right) passed away last night at the age of 71. He was born Reginald Hall in the county of Hampshire in 1941 and became a bricklayer upon leaving school. In 1964, he formed a band called The Troglodytes, lopped a couple of syllables off his first name and took on the alias of a contemporary American rock & roller for his surname. The band’s title also became monosyllabic, just as the music they would make remains amongst the most primitive ever committed to vinyl. The Kinks’ manager, Larry Page, signed The Troggs in 1965 and the group released Lost Girl as their first (unsuccessful) single the following year
They soon hit the jackpot, however, when Wild Thing made it to #2 on the UK charts and all the way to the top in the States. The song was written by Chip Taylor (actor Jon Voight’s brother) and had already been recorded a year earlier by a band called The Wild Ones. Nevertheless, the song was made famous by The Troggs and most likely launched the careers of thousands of garage bands. Jimi Hendrix performed an incendiary version of it at the Monterey Pop festival in 1967 and The Kingsmen, The Runaways and Warren Zevon are amongst the many acts who’ve recorded the song over the years. The lengthy version below is by the Los Angeles post-punk band whose name has only one letter. The band is simply called X and is mainly composed of John Doe and Exene Cervenka, who sings lead here. It’s a pretty decent version that seems to fade halfway before returning. It was included as a bonus track on the band’s 2002 reissue of their 1985 album, Ain’t Love Grand!
Chip Taylor was also the composer of what would turn out to be the band’s fourth, and sadly penultimate, UK top ten hit. Any Way That You Want Me was first released as the flip side of Tina Mason’s Finders Keepers single from 1966. She wasn’t able to hang onto it, though, and Reg and the lads brought it up to #8 on the UK charts that year. In 1990, former Spaceman 3 member Jason Pierce chose the song as the debut single of his new musical outfit, Spiritualized. Their chilled-out version only made it to #75. Three years later, The Ramones chose I Can’t Control Myself as one of the dozen tributes to British and American sixties classics on their 1993 Acid Eaters covers album
The Ramones were one of many punk bands who had been influenced by The Troggs’s music and style and that influence was evident as far back as 1969. Detroit’s proto-punk rockers, the MC5, took a Troggs’ b-side called I Want You and recorded it as I Want You Right Now on their equally influential Kick Out the Jams album. The final two songs are more recent and a little quieter. TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek recorded With a Girl Like You for 2009’s Dark Was the Night compilation and Mikal Cronin did a fine job on the lesser known Give It To Me on the reverse side of his 2010 single, Gone. Sadly, the original singer of all these songs is now also gone. To borrow a phrase associated with his namesake, Reg Presley has left the building
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