Twin Troglodytes

Jimi Hendrix enjoyed putting his spin on other artist’s tunes. His personalization of “Wild Thing” to close his set at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival was, while memorable, hardly unusual for him; but it put him in a select category, to date inhabited only by Hendrix and R.E.M. — artists who have covered Troggs hits.

The Troggs’ 1966 cover of Chip Taylor’s “Wild Thing” is one of the most recognizable recordings of rock music. Always more popular in England than the US, they were not, as is often supposed by less informed programming directors of pop and rock radio, one-hit wonders. Even if we ignore their string of UK hits (not a good idea, but sometimes difficult to avoid due to US radio’s US-centric take on music charts) they had two hits on the US charts, and it was the second, making it to the top 5 in 1968, which was covered by R.E.M. on 1991’s “R.E.M.'s 'Radio Song'Radio Song.”

While “Wild Thing” exemplified the troglodyte persona expected from the band, lead vocalist Reg Presley was adept at crafting sensitive ballads. “Troggs' 'Greatest Hits'Love is All Around“, while not as simple as “Wild Thing” (a feat I wouldn’t want to attempt) has simple lyrics and uncomplicated music. Not yet unusual in rock singles, it sports strings and a polished arrangement not present in the “Radio Song” cover; the arrangement is distinctly 60s and adds to the sweetness of the song. On the heels of its caveman predecessor, learning that this gentle love ballad comes from the Troggs increases its appeal by emphasizing their diversity and talent.