Monday, December 19, 2005

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes

The British band the Troggs, of course, are best known for their 1966 #1 hit rendition of "Wild Thing," but that sludgy, unexpectedly influential garage rock oddity, with dramatic pauses and an ocarina solo, is just one side to the band. They had a number of hits in the U.K., but they only had one other big American hit, "Love Is All Around," a flower child-friendly song with pastoral strings and a gentle simplicity. Between these two extremes, what brought it all together was Reg Presley's vocals, delivered with his distinctive, snarly voice, and the embrace of basic pop aesthetics. In addition to inspiring garage bands, punks, power-popsters, hippie love rockers, and Jimi Hendrix (who covered "Wild Thing"), they also (allegedly) inspired a cinematic moment. The infamous (and NSFW, mind you) "Troggs Tapes" (linked page includes an MP3) is an 11-minute recording of some sailor-mouthed studio dialogue, reminiscent of a Derek & Clive sketch, and apparently this leaked swear-fest was the basis for the scene in This Is Spinal Tap where the band attempts to record some new material in a studio. I should point out that This Is Spinal Tap inspired the line in "Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old" that goes "There'll be time enough for sex and drugs in Heaven, when our pheromones are turned up to 11." And, close to thirty years after they had formed, the group experienced a slight comeback with the 1992 album Athens Andover, recorded with help from members of R.E.M. (who had covered "Love Is All Around") and the dB's.

In the Raygun interview with Merritt, he mentions the Troggs in his discussion of bubblegum music, and in Chickfactor #6 he lists the Troggs compilation Archaeology as an essential pop recording. And, I'm willing to bet that it's no accident that the titles of the Troggs' two most popular songs are found within the lyrics to two Magnetic Fields songs: "I miss doing the wild thing with you" from "Come Back from San Francisco" and "Desert island, love is all around" from the Holiday track. This week's first selection, "With a Girl Like You," is overshadowed by the two biggest hits in the band's history, but it was a British chart-topper during its time. It's just one big marvelous hook, with proto-Big Star guitar bursts, staccato singing, and irresistible "ba ba ba"s.

The Troggs - "With a Girl Like You"
The Troggs - "Love Is All Around"

Stephinsources will return on January 2.


Blogger Rusty said...

I might argue that "I miss doing the wild thing with you" was *only* meant as a Ton Loc reference. I just might.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Ernest said...

You make a good point, but it would be an even stronger case had Shirley sung it as "THANG" instead of "thing," dawg.

9:59 PM  

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