Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One Take's Enough: The Troggs: "Wild Thing"

Following the explosion of '64, everyone but everyone wanted to be in a band, and if they didn't have the songwriting chops well then (as we have seen) there was always someone somewhere writing songs in the hopes that their version of what rock should/could/oughta be would take off. Chip Taylor wrote this, born-in-'64 band The Troggs - from southern England and given to much arguing, as later tapes* would show - recorded it, played it on a tv show called Thank Your Lucky Stars (not, as it sounds, a talent show but one where all the big groups of the day would come on and mime songs; it ended not long after The Troggs appeared because the no-fun Musicians' Union didn't approve of it). And thus it was a huge hit. If I seem to be downplaying its importance - which I am, kind of - it's only to highlight that ye olde garage rock had already been going for some time in the US, and that this song coincided with its apex - there is a multi-volume series of cds that are nothing but garage rock/punk from '66, stupefying in its intensity and determination to be different and maybe even successful, if only regionally. (As an example, here's "Love at Psychedelic Velocity" by the L.A. band The Human Expression**.)

While "Wild Thing" is raw and so laissez-faire it has an ocarinasolo (the only one in pop I know of), it is also about as subtle as a 345 bus in a rush going over a speed bump and about as pleasant. What can I say? I want songs to use the word 'groovy' in an, um, groovier way, and the guy is obviously just bossing his girl around...sorry to be so picky but if she makes his heart sing, why does she have to do anything else? I know garage rock is supposed to be stoopid in a good way...but this is, to borrow from another garage rock classic, just pushin' too hard on me. It needs more...something to make it really work for me; something like, oh, this.

*Warning: lots of swearing here. These tapes are beloved in rock by the way, because every rock band bickers and argues over dumb stuff...fairy dust though? Hee.

*"Wild Thing" sounds feral and direct and plain compared to a lot of the garage rock that came before and after; I tend to think it has lasted because it's relatively simple to play and if you don't have an ocarina handy you can just whistle, as was originally intended. In a chart that included "Paint It Black," "Shotgun Wedding" and "Over Under Sideways Down" The Troggs found themselves in good company, but it was fast company as well; how fast we will see soon enough.

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