Chris Allen and Chris Britton up front of The Troggs, 2016-style. Mandy Tzaras Photo.
A BUNCH OF OLD WILD THINGS WHO MADE MY HEART SING REVIEW:
BY ROBERT BROKENMOUTH
28 November 2016
The original Troggs were Ronnie Bond (drums), Chris Britton (guitar), Reg Presley (vocals) and Pete Staples (bass), and their first hits began over 50 years ago. Along the way, they profoundly influenced ‘60s garage rock (not to mention glam) and seem likely to have been the inspiration for “Spinal Tap" when a spirited recording session was recorded, edited and bootlegged ("The Troggs Tapes").
Those reasons alone would be good enough to shell out your $70+change and hurry along to the fine establishment on Port Road in Adelaide, The Gov.
+ Tom Lawson
The Gov, Adelaide
November 27, 2016
Mandy Tzaras photos
If I wanted another reason to see The Troggs, look no further than Lester Bangs’ “James Taylor Marked for Death”, an article spanning nearly 30 pages of his trademark purposeful rant. I quote:
“The Troggs eschewed all trendy gimmicks and kinky theatrics” [Bangs was referring to the MC5, the Stooges and the Doors here], “delivered their proposition with sidewalk directness and absolute sincerity… Just dig their song titles; ‘Gonna Make You’, ‘I Want You’, ‘I Can’t Control Myself’, ‘Give It To Me’, ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’.”
You’ll have spotted these titles rather resemble the Ramones’. Now, I’d forgotten that the Troggs had been banned rather a few times in an assortment of countries; “I Can’t Control Myself” (also banned here in Australia), “Night of the Long Grass” and “Strange Movies” … the list is longer but you get the idea.
Basically, anyone under 60 kinda forgets that the British Invasion wasn’t about cute tunes and harmonies: what was happening was a genuine revolt of the young. They had guitars
and volume, talked in a strange argot, had weird hair, wore weird clothes, took drugs and had sex.
The ‘60s were a rather unpleasant sexual revolution. More than that, these young folk sang songs about all this and they sold by the truckload. It wasn’t so much all the stuff they were doing, or wanted to be doing, but that their views were everywhere … bucking the system until about, by my reckoning, 1969 found the mod - hippie gen becoming well and truly mainstream. And dull.
The opening act was local singer/ guitarist Tom Lawson. The audience were still filing in, stealing chairs from the beer garden to bring inside. One woman was reading a book. Most people were chattering very very loud. So Tom did bloody well to hold it together and perform. His voice is at its best when he’s pushing it, and while I didn’t like all of his songs, he was credible and, had the environment not been so evidently hurry-up-and-get-off I would’ve paid more attention. So I’ll have to see him in more convivial surrounds sometime…
Tonight’s Troggs show should put all the talk about whether original members are in the band or not completely to bed, as if that should somehow make any difference. Take The Sonics - with only one original member. They ruled a few weeks back, because they’d gotten hold of hungry, talented veterans who loved the band’s music and allowed themselves to be trained in exactly how to re-present The Sonics. To the point where, if you didn’t know any better, yes, you were seeing The Sonics.
There are plenty of examples of the original members vs hired guns + a few originals, and the results are just as mixed. Some things don’t change: time does, however, and the circumstances of, say, Filth’s original live shows (back in’ 77) cannot be replicated - even so, we all want to see Filth return to the stage, at least once.
The Rolling Stones could never replicate the angsty urgency of their first London live shows, any more than the Troggs could. And, while the Stones reinvented themselves after turfing out troubled Brian Jones and became EVERPRESENT ROCK STARS, when key band personnel kark it most outfits find themselves either trundling in another direction, or changed somehow… or not much changed.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were a treat to see - musically - but there was little personal interaction with the crowd. They seemed stand-offish. Sometimes a little arrogance works. Not when you’re on the comeback trail, though.
For a variety of reasons, The Troggs have had a few shifting line-ups. Most of us, if we’re feeling sensible, realise that you can’t stay with a band you started when you were in your early 20s, so if a band is to continue, you need to get someone else in. No-one whinged about acca dacca. Also, Ronnie Bond died in 1992, Reg Presley (who founded the Troggs with Chris Britton) in 2013. Peter Staples has been unwell but by all accounts is now better and powering along, writing his autobiography.
The Troggs we’re seeing tonight are Chris Allen (vocals), Chris Britton (guitar), Pete Lucas (bass) and Dave Maggs (drums). Lucas has been with the band off and on since 1974, and “Maggsy” since the mid-‘80s.. Chris Allen has also performed with the Denny Laine Band, The Commitments and The Animals; he’s not unfamiliar with a stage. Chris Britton is the
only "foundation member". (Of course, I shouldn’t mock. We’ll be like that in a couple of years, trundling out to see The Angelic Upstart or The Pixie).
Seeing The Troggs tonight was just what I needed. The household had endured a rather rubbish few weeks, and The Troggs did what performers used to do: they entertained us. Sure, it’s not 1967, and thank god for that, say I. Sure, the crowd mostly sat on chairs (The Gov provided several hundred, they knew their audience) because, look, 68 years old is 68 years old.
That said, two 60-something ladies in the front row took the opportunity to wave and grope their bouncers to catch Mr Britton’s eye. One 30-something lass hurled her blue bra and caught Mr Britton right in the face. It was hardly a riot but it was a rather exquisite moment.
They could’ve been up themselves, these blokes. But they weren’t. Huge influence, legendary status … they’re down to earth, like the Pro-Tools or Harry Howard and the NDE, joking between themselves but sharing it all with us. Some bands have a magic. The Rolling Stones lost theirs decades ago; The Troggs have no right to still have it… but they do.
The Troggs are, of course, mostly trading on their past. Which would become rather tedious if they were your local band playing each week down the Dog and Duck. But they haven’t been here for ages, so it’s a Moment for all of us.
And, while some old acts come out yet again to trundle rather stuffily through their hits with an ill-chosen mixture of original members and dutiful plunkers, the Troggs don’t just have a bunch of great songs, but have developed an intimate rapport with the crowd. Yes, you can see them working, but the patina of professionalism is very thin, so you see the blokes right there in front of you all the time.
Lucas and Maggsy are the mainstay, the tuff lynchpin of the band. I initially wondered at the rather beefy '80s heavy metal drum sound, but then figured, well, back in the day the drum sound was probably a bit difficult to beef up, and people expect a tougher rhythm section these days. I didn’t think it marred the songs (although I thought their version of “Louie Louie” was … not good).
Chris Allen moves brilliantly, filling the role of the jack the lad lead singer perfectly, dolled up in modern retro gear (great boots) with the friendly, unforced ability to reel the crowd in and make them respond naturally. Not that many performers can do this, it takes not only skill - it’s still true that the audience need to be able to trust the singer if the singer is to enter their emotional space.
Chris Britton was bloody good.
If you see an old bugger playing a guitar badly … don’t feel sorry for him. Like an old bloke who’s a shit driver, he needs to get off the road, and he probably knows it. Some idiots continue driving or playing guitar long after they should’ve headed back to the Bide-a-Wee-While Rest Home for Incontinent Malcontents (I’m sure you can think of a few) - but Britton is not one of these.
Every note is right. Every chord. There are no mistakes, there is only silk to the ears or, if you like, the smooth sweet sound of a machine running on rails. Now, that said, there were evident moments where they diverged a bit. But it all hung together (with one exception, and it was a cover).
So the rhythm section hold it all together, Britton hides his light under a bushel and Chris Allen gathers the crowd, plays them and they just love it.
The set list was:
Give It To Me/ From Home/ Louie Louie/ Walking the Dog/ I Do Do/ Night of the Long Grass/ Feels Like a Woman/ Any Way You Want Me/ Strange Movies/ Little Girl/ With a Girl Like You/ Love is All Around/ Wild Thing. Encore Can’t Control Myself.
Personal highlight of the show was when Chris’s wife, came up to the front of the stage in front of Chris, singing the words while watching him. When Chris saw her, he just lit up. The look on their faces was timeless and damn wonderful.
There was a moment in “Wild Thing” where we were all enjoined to clap along. And a few moments later … the band stopped and watched us clapping. For what felt like a dangerously long time. Then they snapped back into the song. Another warm, human, magical moment. Very few bands can get away with this. It was clear, too, that the band were enjoying the night. Britton and Allen couldn’t stop smiling.
No, The Troggs weren’t one of those profound, poignant moments I mentioned above. But on a scale of 1 to 5, they were definitely a 4.
To misquote Reg Presley, they took my last couple of weeks and “put a little bit of fucking fairy dust over the bastard”’.
The Troggs website has three excellent single compilations and a live recording of the current outfit, as well as a couple of books, one by Reg. Get hold of Tom Lawson here.
below link to Wild Thing at this venue
THE TROGGS, MORECAMBE PLATFORM
27TH MAY, 2016
Vocalist Chris Allen chooses wisely not to ape Reg Presley’s West Country burr, but delivers simple, strong vocals that do the hit-makers’ heritage justice. With long-serving players, they’re musically as tight as they come, bassist Pete Lucas, drummer Dave Maggs and guitarist Chris Britton as impressive as ever.
The Troggs’ basic, grinding, pounding rock impressed MC5 and Ramones, and Give It To Me, With A Girl Like You and Night Of The Long Grass were just some of the hits, alongside standards Louie Louie and Walking The Dog. Their template Love Is All Around remains the best, while the stop-start punctuation still makes Wild Thing a one-off. When Allen was called on to find enough pent-up frustration to deliver I Can’t Control Myself and Feels Like A Woman as Reg intended, he wasn’t found wanting.
Credits: Reviewed by John Bottomley - Record Collector Magazine
NEW TOASTED BURRITOS
MUSIC: THE TROGGS
WITH A GIRL LIKE YOU
KFC introduces its brand new toasted burritos with this TV ad, featuring a guy and girl packing a whirlwind romance into a lunch break.
The song is a classic UK number one from a classic year for UK number ones, With A Girl Like You by The Troggs from 1966. Written by Reg Presley, the song was knocked off the top of the charts by The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Other number ones in 1966 included Paint It Black, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More, Strangers in the Night, These Boots Are Made For Walking, Paperback Writer, Keep On Running, Pretty Flamingo, Green Green Grass of Home, Reach Out (I’ll Be There), and Good Vibrations.
ESSENTIALLY POP REVIEW:
BY LISA HAFEY
The third act to grace the stage were The Troggs. Not quite the same band as that in their 1960s heyday – in fact, guitarist Chris Britton is the only surviving member from the original lineup, but nonetheless they put on a brilliant show, with Chris notable not only for his awesome guitar licks, but also for his wicked sense of humour! The Troggs played three of their hits, ‘Girl Like You’, ‘Feels Like a Woman’ and of course, the song that is synonymous with the band, ‘Wild Thing’. Everyone in the audience nodded their heads, tapped their feet, clapped and sang along as The Troggs opened up with ‘A Girl Like You’. The guitar-led, ‘Feels Like a Woman’ showed that Chris still has it after all these years!
The Troggs are your ubiquitous touring band – totally professional, they know exactly how to get the audience going, and clearly had a lot of supporters in the audience who were there only for them. ‘Wild Thing’ had everyone going as Chris Allen on lead vocals showed how well he had been able to step into the shoes of original vocalist Reg Presley.
INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS ALLEN THE TROGGS:
The thrilling adventure of The Troggs continues thanks to Chris Allen, the artist who fronts the band since 2012. He was so kind to offer an exclusive interview for OldiesMusicBlog.com,
on how he succeeded in keeping the music and the legend alive. He really had an astonishing musical journey, from covering “Wild Thing” with school friends at 13 to being today the lead vocals of the outstanding band.
OldiesMusicBlog: When did you join The Troggs? Did you happen to sing with them on the same stage before?
Chris Allen: I joined the band in June 2012. I had seen the band, and spoken to Reg Presley on the phone previously.
OMB: When did you first see/hear The Troggs? How old were you then?
CA: I was at school, and covering “Wild Thing” with my school band at age 13.
OMB: Before The Troggs, you performed in the Denny Laine Band or with The Commitments and with The Animals. In your opinion, which are the top three highlights of your music career?
CA: Fronting The Troggs, meeting and sharing the stage with Brian May and working with 3 originals in The Animals.
OMB: How did “The British Invasion” phenomenon influence you career?
CA: It happened in my formative years at school and just after when I was looking for musical direction.
OMB: What were your favourite bands back then?
CA: Cream, Troggs, Kinks, Free and Queen.
OMB: Who are the top artists who inspire you up to this date?
CA: Eric Clapton (guitar), Paul Rodgers (vocals), Jeff Beck, Brian May (guitars), Scott Walker (vocals), Chris Britton (guitar), Jack Bruce,
Andy Fraser (bass).
OMB: What do you remember about your first performance on a stage?
CA: At school with 3 guitars, 1 mic and a bass all plugged into 1 Watkins 15 watt amplifier.
OMB: What do you consider to be the greatest recognition that you ever received?
CA: I’m still waiting but so far, fronting The Troggs
OMB: What was the most beautiful thing said about you/your music?
‘You sing that so f’kin good, it sends a shiver down my spine’ (said about ‘Anyway that you want Me’).
OMB: What Troggs songs you love the most?
CA: ‘Feels like a Woman’, ‘Anyway that you want Me’.
OMB: Do you intend to perform in Bucharest again, in the near future?
CA: Yes, we are waiting for an invitation.
Long after I left the concert venue, I was keep hearing in my head the sound of the ocarina solo in “Wild Thing”. When I woke up the next morning, the ocarina still persisted in my mind. The Troggs have a special way of making things last over the decades – their music, their energy, their humour, their legend.
The Troggs were present at the “Rock in The Park” festival in Bucharest, offering a vivid performance on a breezy linden-scented night.
I’ve been to many ’60s bands’ concerts, but I found The Troggs to be the most entertaining and energetic band of all. They were all spirited, singing loud and strong, dancing, making jokes and telling the story of each song.
Many of their songs had “wild” lyrics, consequently being banned from the UK or other countries. But now is the time of free expression and they sang with the passion and vigour of some 20-something boys.
They started with songs like “I Do Do”, “Night Of The Long Grass” (1967 – banned for inappropriate lyrics, instigating to drugs), “Any Way That You Want Me”, “Gonna Make You” or “Feels Like A Woman”. They continued with “Strange Movements”, the song that was banned worldwide, except Spain, where it reached no 1 – as the Spanish didn’t understand the lyrics! “I Can Give You Everything” was powerful and vibrant, followed by “Little Girl”, that was no 1 in South Africa!
“With A Girl Like You” was my all-time favourite, having the same tunes and positive energy as 50 years ago. “Love Is All Around”, a song that many people now attribute to Wet Wet Wet, was in fact The Troggs’ worldwide hit. That night, it was dedicated to Reg Presley, the lead vocal who passed away at the beginning of the year.
The public was then overenthusiastic at the first chord of “Wild Thing”, the anthem of free-spirited ’60s lovers. The band revealed that this song was no 1 all over the world, except in their mother country, Britain! Their performance was bold, sharp and strong, definitely with wild vibes! Ocarina, the crazy whistling instrument in the break, made it sound magic and mysterious, revealing its ancestral origins.
BY BOB STANLY
BBC RADIO 2
The Troggs' name will never die, thanks to the primal power (not to mention the ocarina solo) of their debut hit Wild Thing. It was a number one in the US but was held at the number two spot over here by the Rolling Stones' Paint It Black. Their sole UK number one was With A Girl Like You, a sweet, atypical midtempo song written by their singer Reg Ball.
The man who discovered the Troggs, Larry Page, was also responsible for renaming them - using the logic that the biggest male icons in the world were Elvis and 007, so Reg Ball became Reg Presley and the drummer became Ronny Bond. This may all seem faintly ridiculous in retrospect, but in the States the teenage Michelle Pfeiffer took Reg Presley very seriously, and he was the only pop star whose picture was deemed fit for her bedroom wall.
The Troggs remain the most famous group from the Hampshire market town of Andover though Larry Page, in the wake of Wild Thing's international success, must have thought he'd come across a wellspring of hitmakers as he signed up two more Andover groups, the Loot
and the Nerve; both put out some great, lightly psychedelic singles without scoring any hits.
The Loot's brash Baby Come Closer and Lennonesque She's A Winner are particularly fine.
Unfortunately, while Page was walking the streets of Andover looking for the next Reg Presley, he took his eye of the ball in America, where ATCO bizarrely put With A Girl Like You on the b-side of Wild Thing and threw away a guaranteed follow-up smash hit. The singles were also released separately in the States on the Fontana label, and With A Girl Like You scraped into the Top 30 under its own steam, but the confusion meant momentum was lost, The group only scored one more Top 10 hit in America - Reg's deathless Love Is All Around made no.7, and reached no.5 here, in the cool autumn after 1967's summer of love.
Even Wet Wet Wet's glossy remake can't dim the magical, lying-in-the-long-grass atmosphere of The Troggs' original. And, of course, Wet Wet Wet's 15 weeks at number one did wonders for Reg Presley's bank account.
Legendary sixties punk progenitors The Troggs rock the Rhos in Wrexham. Dave Jennings revels in the energy and back catalogue of legends who inspired so many and who just keep going…
After a week that started with an untouchable performance by The Stranglers in Liverpool, it was an appropriate way to end it by celebrating survival, legacy and promise for the future. The legendary The Troggs made a rare visit to North Wales and showed the class that makes them a hugely important part of rock history and did so in a building that is a testament to a community’s determination not to let it die.
The venue tonight is incredibly appropriate. Originally built in 1926 by miners’ subscriptions to serve as a ballroom and theatre, it was allowed to decay and faced closure. However, the local community rallied round and, with the help of a Lottery grant, saved the building and turned it into a modern and versatile venue. This was our first visit for a gig and the acoustics were excellent. It just needs an ambitious promoter and this place could really take off as a venue of real quality.
The stage was set for the entry of a band who many consider to be the original inspiration for the punk and garage sound. A four-piece from Andover who, 50 years ago, were considered such a threat by the conservative sound police that they repeatedly saw their records banned for no apparent reason.
The Troggs take the stage without any fanfare and immediately tease the audience by launching into the first bars of Wild Thing. However the genuine opening track, Give It To Me (All Your Love) is a genuine rocking classic which perfectly demonstrates the ground-breaking guitar work of sole surviving founder member, Chris Britton.
Since the sad passing of the great Reg Presley, The Troggs have been fronted by Chris Allen and he does a great job of stepping into some pretty awesome shoes. The rhythm section of Dave Maggs on drums and Pete Lucas on bass are long established in the band and provide an impressive platform for some of the great rock and roll moments that are delivered tonight. Avoiding the obvious temptation to trawl through their singles the band deliver a set-list that contains some lesser known gems like From Home and Walking the Dog. As tracks are introduced the band’s unusual career path is charted; from Number 1s in South Africa to songs banned by the BBC (most of them, seemingly).
At times almost distorted, at others delivering delicious licks there is something about the Chris Britton guitar that is impossible to ignore. Listening to it in this North Wales village tonight you can hear the echoes of a thousand singles since The Troggs first recorded but that seems irrelevant to this hugely likeable group as they seem content to enjoy playing together and sharing their music with whoever comes along. The point was also made, subtly but firmly, that Britton maybe hasn’t received the credit (or royalties) he deserves for his part in the writing of some of the classic tracks.
We are treated to Louie Louie (not banned), Night of the Long Grass (banned) and Feels like a Woman (No 1 in South Africa) before an unexpected break and a Q and A session interrupted the set. Promising to answer anything, the band aren’t tested much beyond expressing which of sex, drugs and rock and roll they prefer (all three apparently but only one practised nowadays).
Back into the set with an under-rated ballad from the hippy-era in the shape of Any Way You Want Me before they launch into the song that was apparently written with the successful intention of being banned, Strange Movies. The Troggs are reaping the benefit of being miles ahead of their time when they wrote these
songs as they sound absolutely contemporary today. Chris Britton is apparently a great grandfather to nine children but, on the evidence of tonight, he’s also the same to countless songs from the punk era and beyond.
The set winds towards its inevitable climax with Little Girl, a touching story of the reality of working class life in the 1960s before the classic With a Girl Like You. The ubiquitous Love is All Around has never sounded better than when performed live by these guys and the lusting, so inevitably banned, I Can’t Control Myself is magnificent. However, there was only ever going to be one song that The Troggs could end with and Wild Thing is delivered in all its savage beauty. What a track and what an honour to see it live on your doorstep.
They leave the stage as they entered it, unassuming, modest yet surely confident of their place in rock’s firmament. It’s great to see that the passing of Reg Presley has not deterred the band from going out on the road as, with a back catalogue like theirs, we need to see them for as long as possible.
All words by Dave Jennings.
Find more from him by visiting his
Louder Than War author profile.
THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS THE TROGGS