The Troggs - Trogglodynamite (1967)

Zespół The Troggs powstał w 1964 roku w składzie Howard Mansfield (gitara, wokal), Dave Wright (gitara), Reg Presley (bas) i Ronnie Bond (perkusja). Rok później Mansfielda i Wrighta zastąpili Chris Britton i Pete Staples.

W 1966 roku The Troggs rozpoczęli współpracę z Larrym Pagem. Dzięki temu powstał ich debiutancki singiel „Lost Girl” wydany przez CBS. Kolejny to już wielki przebój i najważniejsze nagranie grupy – „Wild Thing”. Znalazło się ono na 1. miejscu amerykańskiej listy przebojów w czerwcu tego samego roku.

Rok 1966 to także kolejne hity – „With a Girl Like You” czy „I Can’t Control Myself”. Z kolei rok później na listach przebojów królowało nagranie „Love Is All Around”. Po takim sukcesie mogło być już tylko lepiej. Jednak nie w przypadku The Troggs - po burzliwym procesie i rozstaniu z Larrym Pagem zespół mógł zapomnieć o popularności na następne kilka lat. Dopiero po powrocie do współpracy z Pagem formacja powróciła do łask. Zespół nagrał nową wersję przeboju The Beach Boys „Good Vibrations” i koncertowy album „Live At Max's Kansas City”.

W 1991 zespół w składzie Presley, Britton, Peter Lucas i Dave Maggs, przy współpracy z R.E.M. nagrali album „Athens Andover”. The Troggs mają na swoim koncie ponad 20 wydawnictw, wśród których są zarówno albumy studyjne, jak i składanki z największymi przebojami. Z twórczości The Troggs brali przykład Iggy Pop czy Ramones.

Remembered chiefly as proto-punkers who reached the top of the charts with the "caveman rock" of "Wild Thing" (1966), the Troggs were also adept at crafting power pop and ballads. Hearkening back to a somewhat simpler, more basic British Invasion approach as psychedelia began to explode in the late '60s, the group also reached the Top Five with their flower-power ballad "Love Is All Around" in 1968. While more popular in their native England than the U.S., the band also fashioned memorable, insistently riffing hit singles like "With a Girl Like You," "Night of the Long Grass," and the notoriously salacious "I Can't Control Myself" between 1966 and 1968. Paced by Reg Presley's lusting vocals, the group -- which composed most of their own material -- could crunch with the best of them, but were also capable of quite a bit more range and melodic invention than they've been given credit for.

Hailing from the relatively unknown British town of Andover, the Troggs hooked up with manager/producer Larry Page (who was involved in the Kinks' early affairs) in the mid-'60s. After a flop debut single, they were fortunate enough to come across a demo of Chip Taylor's "Wild Thing" (which had already been unsuccessfully recorded by the Wild Ones). In the hands of the Troggs, "Wild Thing" -- with its grungy chords and off-the-wall ocarina solo -- became a primeval three-chord monster, famous not only in its original hit Troggs version, but in its psychedelic revamping by Jimi Hendrix, who used it to close his famous set at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

"Wild Thing" made number one in the States, but the Troggs' momentum there was impeded by a strange legal dispute which saw their early records simultaneously released on two different labels. Nor did it help that the band didn't tour the U.S. for a couple of years. As a consequence, the fine follow-up singles "With a Girl Like You" and "I Can't Control Myself" didn't do as well as they might have. In Britain, it was a different story -- they were smashes, although "I Can't Control Myself" had such an open-hearted lust that it encountered resistance from conservative radio programmers all over the globe.

The Troggs tempered their image on subsequent ballads, which utilized a sort of pre-"power ballad" approach. These weren't bad, and a few of them were British hits, but they weren't as fine as the initial blast of singles which established the band's image. "Love Is All Around," which restored them to the American Top Ten in 1968, was their finest effort in this vein. It was also their final big hit on either side of the Atlantic.

But the Troggs would keep going for a long, long time. In a sense they were handicapped by their image -- they were not intellectuals, certainly, but they weren't dumb either. They wrote most of their songs, and their albums were reasonably accomplished, if hardly up to the level of the Kinks or Traffic, containing some nifty surprises like the gothic ballad "Cousin Jane," or the tongue-in-cheek psychedelia of "Maybe the Madman." By 1970, though, they were struggling. They continued to release a stream of singles, most of which had a straightforward simplicity that was out of step with the progressive rock of the time, all of which flopped, though some were fairly good.

The Troggs' image as lunkheads couldn't have been helped by the notorious Troggs Tapes, a 12-minute studio argument that was captured on tape while the band were unawares. The Spinal Tap-like dialog helped keep their cult alive, though, and as punk gained momentum in the mid-'70s, they gained belated appreciation as an important influence on bands like the Ramones and (earlier) the MC5. They found enough live work (sometimes on the punk/new wave circuit) to keep going, although their intermittent records generally came to naught. In 1992, they rose to their highest profile in ages when three members of R.E.M., which had covered "Love Is All Around," backed the Troggs on the comeback album Athens Andover.

The Troggs' second UK album bore the hallmarks of a rushed affair, comprised largely of substandard original material and covers, and not even including a hit to stand out from the crowd. Only one of the tracks ("Cousin Jane") was even issued in the US in the 1960s, a shocking state of affairs for a British group that had recently topped the American charts, although a few would appear on later compilations (Archeology has five of the songs). Part of the problem was that the group didn't have enough good original compositions to merit an album's worth of material, necessitating the enlistment of other songwriters (including Albert Hammond for "Meet Jacqueline" and their manager, Larry Page) who largely weren't up to the task. Most of the disc is surprisingly tame, with little of the crunch or roar that motored their best classics, or (with the exception of the lovely "Cousin Jane") the left-field delicate balladry they were wont to have up their sleeve. The terrific cover of Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything" is, other than "Cousin Jane," the album's lone first-rate track, and both are available on Archeology (for that matter, both were on the excellent double-LP Sire compilation The Vintage Years). ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

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