Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Forgotten Hits Remembers Reg Presley

Well, I don't know how The Troggs faired in your recent poll, Kent, but the article refers to them as a ''garage band.''
I worked with the band once -- in Denver -- in '68 -- nice guys, easy to work with, fun to be with. Although 'Wild Thing' was their signature song, I always liked "Love Is All Around.''
RIP, Reg -- you were a unique singer and a nice guy.
Fred / Nashville
I always preferred their softer side, too ... "Love Is All Around You" was my fave ... and "With A Girl Like You" ... but it was "Wild Thing" that put them on the map. Actually The Troggs did all-right in our Favorite Garage Band Poll, coming in at #22. I tried to interview Reg Presley for the series but he was too ill to participate. He has been battling this for quite some time and had come to accept the inevitable, appearing on several talk shows a while back to acknowledge that the end was near. The Troggs will always be a part of rock and roll history for their signature tune. (kk)   

Reg Presley, lead singer with the Troggs, lost his battle with lung cancer Monday (February 3) at the age of 71. He had retired slightly more than a year ago to fight the disease. Born Reginald Ball in Andover, Hampshire, England in 1941, he formed the group with guitarist Chris Britton, bassist Pete Staples and drummer Ronnie Bullis in 1964 and signed a year later with Kinks manager Larry Page. After releasing their first, unsuccessful, single on CBS Records, the Troggs (short for "troglodyte") settled in with Fontana Records in 1966 -- specifically a song written by Chip Taylor (brother of actor Jon Voight) called "Wild Thing." It proved to be an immediate #2 hit in the UK and was released in the US on Atco Records, where it reached #1. Its flip side, "With A Girl Like You," also charted at #29 in the US. However, Fontana Records was being distributed in America by Mercury and they released the song as well, with a different B-side. Sales of both releases were combined for charting purposes and Fontana won the US rights in a late 1966 settlement. While "Love Is All Around" reached #7 in 1968, that was the only other top 40 single for the group though they notched eight such hits in the UK. Despite Reg's death, the group (under remaining original member Chris Britton) continues touring.
-- Ron Smith  

More from Ron's Message Board:
Click here: Oldies Music Bulletin Board: Reg Presley Of The Troggs Has Died,+2013+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&m=1
-- submitted by Tom Cuddy  

From Frank B - the BBC perspective:

Although The Troggs had more hits on the British Charts than they did here in America, their records did pretty well here in The States, too. (The Troggs continue to perform in Great Britain today, for the last year and a half or so without lead singer Reg Presley due to his health issues and battle with cancer, which he ultimately lost on Sunday, February 3rd.)  

Stateside, they reached The National To 40 with all four of their chart hits ... "Wild Thing" (#1, 1966 / #2 UK); "With A Girl Like You" (#29 / #1 UK); "I Can't Control Myself" (#35, 1966 / #2 UK) and "Love Is All Around" (#7, 1968 / #5 UK in 1967).  Additional British Top 20 Hits include "Any Way That You Want Me" (#8, 1966, also written by Chip Taylor), "Give It To Me" (#12, 1967) and "Night Of The Long Grass" (#17, 1967).     

"Wild Thing" and "With A Girl Like You" were released as the A-Side and B-Side of the same single on Atco Records ... and, in an odd case of everybody still trying to cash in on The British Invasion (albeit the tail end of that invasion by 1966), they were also simultaneously released on the Fontana Record Label ... as two SEPARATE singles.   The one-two punch of "Wild Thing" and "With A Girl Like You" charted well enough to reach #91 on our official list of The Top 200 Two-Sided Hits of All-Time.

"Love Is All Around You" was remade in 1994 by the Scottish group Wet Wet Wet which, despite its rather dismal #41 Billboard chart showing, seemed to be on the radio constantly at the time here in Chicago. (We still hear it now and then ... far more often than The Troggs' original.) It was also remade as "Christmas Is All Around You" for the holiday film "Love Actually". In one of the movie's best scenes, old-time rocker Billy Mack (brilliantly portrayed by Bill Nighy) performs the song in the nude on Christmas Day, as he promised he would do if the record reached #1. (kk)

Here's a Troggs Forgotten Hit ... "With A Girl Like You" ... quite a contrast to the grungy sounding "Wild Thing" to be sure! 

Presley took ill during an appearance in Germany a little over a year ago.  When he went to check it out, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and, a short time later, officially retired and made this announcement to his long-time fans:  

As you all know I was taken ill whilst doing a gig in Germany in December. During my stay in hospital tests showed that in fact I have lung cancer.  I am receiving chemotherapy treatment and at the moment not feeling too bad.  However I've had to call time on The Troggs and retire. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the cards and calls and for your love, loyalty and support over the years.  
-- Reg Presley

Here's a piece we did on "Wild Thing" several years ago ... actually, it was a spotlight on songwriter Chip Taylor that inspired this piece.  It comes from our week-long tribute to songwriter Chip Taylor, circa 2006.   

Songwriter Chip Taylor holds the distinction of having written TWO of the Late-'60's best known, classic songs: "Wild Thing" (a #1 smash for The Troggs in 1966) and "Angel Of The Morning" (a #3 hit in 1968 for Merilee Rush, which later topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart and hit #2 Pop when covered by Country Songstress Juice Netwon in 1981.)

"Wild Thing" was written to order when Taylor was approached by record producer Jerry Granahan, who was looking for a new song for the band he was working with, Jordan Christopher and the Wild Ones.  (I guess you could say it was "Taylor-made" for the group!)  When asked if he had anything "in the can, ready to go," Chip replied, "Well, I don't know if I do or I don't, but let me try to write something today for you."  

In the span of the next three hours, Taylor knocked out what would go on to be one of the biggest hits of the '60's ... although NOT for Jordan Christopher and the Wild Ones.  He admits that, subconsciously, their name (The Wild Ones) may have acted as some sort of inspiration for the lyrics ... and further admits that the stop /start rhythm was inspired by Carl Perkins' early rocker "Blue Suede Shoes".  (At the time, he wasn't even sure what lyrics he would insert into those pauses ... but everything just sort of jelled together ... and, three hours after the phone call, Taylor went into the recording studio to cut his demo. He says that the demo he made that day became the template that The Troggs would follow when they cut the song several months later.) 

However, FIRST he brought it to Jordan Christopher and the Wild Ones.  "I don't know if it ever came out," he remembers. (It did, but it never made the charts!) "They had an arranger that was arranging horns and strings and drum beats and stuff like that. So my cool groove all but disappeared with the horns and strings arrangement. It didn't have a great feel."     

When the song finally made its way to The Troggs' producer Larry Page (by way of publisher Dick James, who also handled The Beatles' publishing at the time), they didn't know what to make of it.   

Troggs' lead singer Reg Presley reportedly said, "This is either gonna be the biggest bomb or the biggest hit ever." Incredibly, by the time The Troggs' version was released as a single in 1966, it is believed that at least FIVE other versions of the song had already been recorded and released, with NONE of them garnering any attention.  

Chip Taylor was already on his way to becoming a pretty hot songwriting property by this time. His first major chart hit came by way of another British Invasion Group, The Hollies, who cut his composition "I Can't Let Go" earlier that year and took it all the way to #2 on The British Charts. (The Hollies hadn't really hit it big here in America yet ... their first U.S. charter, "Just One Look", a cover of the Doris Troy song, never made it past #98 in Billboard or #84 in Cash Box ... it would do a little better when it was re-released three years later but still fell short of The National Top 40, peaking at #44.) Their next release, (now considered a British Invasion classic), "Look Through Any Window", stalled at #32 but (for some reason) went all the way to #3 here in Chicago. Next up came their version of Taylor's "I Can't Let Go", which stopped at #42 nationally but became a Top Ten Hit here in Chicago. Actually, The Hollies always did pretty well here in Chicago ... their next single, "Bus Stop", went all the way to #1 here, despite stopping at #5 on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts.   

Here is the rare original version of "Wild Thing" by Jordan Christopher and The Wild Ones ...

And (believe it or not) a Top 20 remake from 1967!

DIDJAKNOW?: Chip Taylor's REAL name is James Wesley Voight ... and he's the younger brother of actor Jon Voight  ... which also makes him Uncle to Angelina Jolie!!!