By Tex Bradley & Chester Bangs
Unbelievably Bad Contributors
It’s the 50th anniversary of The Troggs releasing “Wild Thing”, but to guitarist Chris Britton it feels like only yesterday.
“Feels like only yesterday,” he tells UB, as the UK garage stalwarts prepare to clatter around Australia on tour in November. “It’s a really odd feeling. Makes you wonder where time goes.
“Ever since the word go, ever since we first recorded ‘Wild Thing’, we thought, ‘Oh yeah, this will probably only last a couple of years.’ And it’s just carried on like that in two-year increments until all of a sudden you’ve been doing it for 50 years!”
“Wild Thing” was written by New Yorker Chip Taylor (born James Voight, actor Jon Voight’s brother) and originally recorded by The Wild Ones in 1965 before The Troggs made it their bitch in ’66. It’s probably one of the dumbest and funnest rock songs to play that’s ever been written, and as such it’s been covered by everyone from Hendrix to Animal from The Muppets to your first band back in high school.
UB speaks to Chris Britton about the endearing legacy of “Wild Thing”…
Tex: The Troggs are touring Australia for the 50th anniversary of “Wild Thing”. Does the impact of that song continue to surprise you?
It’s quite amazing, really. We always say that we thought it would last a couple of years in ’66 you know, but it lasted a couple of years, and then we gave it another couple of years, and before you know it you’ve got 50 years. So…we’ll give it another couple of years and see what happens.
[Classic “Wild Thing”]:
Chester: Aren’t you sick of that song yet?
Fifty years since we did it, corr blimey, a lot of water under the bridge. A lot of changes in recording techniques, a lot of changes in stage performance attitudes – it’s wonderful to have watched it all happen, actually. A lot has changed.
Chester: True. But could anyone do a more quintessential recording of “Wild Thing” now? Doubt it.
The recording of “Wild Thing”, we did it in Olympic Sound in London, Keith Grant was the engineer. Larry Page was doing an orchestral session because he had the Larry Page Orchestra, and he said, “If there’s a few minutes left at the end of the recording session you can pop in and lay a couple of tracks down.” We fought our van to get there, because the kingpins went in the car on the way up and the steering had practically seized up. It took two of us to steer it! Anyway, we managed to get there and there was 10 minutes left at the end of the session so we threw all the gear in, did a quick run through to get a sound, and Keith Grant recorded it virtually live in two takes, and “Wild Thing” and “With A Girl Like You” were recorded in 10 minutes. Obviously there was a lot of time spent on the sound y’know mixing it and all that later, but the actual recording session lasted about 10 minutes.
[“Wild Thing” live at the Marquee Club 1973]:
Chester: “Wild Thing” went to #1 on the Australian charts – I guess you were famous everywhere so would barely have noticed?
Yeah, we were very lucky because “Wild Thing” took off worldwide. The follow-ups did well, first album, second album went well. We were lucky that it went worldwide and not just stuck to UK and Europe, which happened to a few bands. So it was good news for us when it spread out. Then, of course, Wet Wet Wet had a revival with one of our songs [“Love Is All Around”] a while later and that sort of kicked it all off again. It’s a funny thing, just as you think it’s all going to start trailing off, something else happens and it all kicks off again.
Tex: What’s your favourite cover version of it?
Well, by far the most extravagant one’s got to be Jimi Hendrix [at Monterey 1967]. There are a few other interesting versions as well…did you ever see The Muppets do it?
Tex: No, I didn’t.
That was quite hilarious. For a bunch of puppets, they did kick up a noise; it was very good and I had a good laugh. But no, there have been some amazing versions of “Wild Thing”. It’s one of those songs that every band has had a go at. The words aren’t too much of a hassle to remember.
[The Greatest Cover Of “Wild Thing” Ever]:
Chester: The Troggs had a rep as “bad boys”. Why?
I don’t know. We didn’t go out of our way to create that kind of image, it’s just that’s the way it goes. We weren’t really bad, we just gave the impression of being a bit rebellious. We never set out intending to create some sort of image, that was just our lives and that’s what came through.
Chester: Who was the biggest bad boy out of all the musicians you knew back then?
Keith Moon had his moments.
The Troggs’ 2016 Australian Tour dates:
Thursday Nov 3 – Beach House Hotel, Hervey Bay
Friday Nov 4 – Hamilton Hotel, Brisbane
Saturday Nov 5 – Caloundra RSL, Caloundra
Monday Nov 14 – Brass Monkey, Cronulla
Tuesday Nov 15 – The Basement, Sydney
Wednesday Nov 16 – Lizotte’s, Newcastle
Thursday Nov 17 – Blue Mountains Theatre, Springwood
Friday Nov 18 – Entrance Leagues Club, NSW Central Coast
Saturday Nov 19 – Revesby Workers Club, Sydney
Sunday Nov 20 – The Bridge Hotel, Rozelle, Sydney
Tuesday Nov22 – The Gov, Adelaide
Thursday Nov 24 – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday Nov 26 – The Palms at Crown, Melbourne
Tickets available from the Metropolis Touring site.