Reg Presley, lead singer of the ’60s British band The Troggs, died yesterday at 71 after a year-long battle with cancer.
Beyond the super-hits—including “Wild Thing,” which still plays at Minor League baseball games—The Troggs perfected the three-minute, super-catchy rock song, which made them an influence for later punk bands like Iggy Pop and The Ramones, who in turn have influenced every decade of music since.
Here are our top 7 songs by The Troggs in honor of Presley:
1. “With a Girl Like You”
This song is playing in season one of “Girls,” when Jessa hooks up with the guy in the bar bathroom while she’s supposed to be getting an abortion. Hats off to the music supervisor for that one—great choice. Though “With a Girl Like You” reached its peak in 1966 when it climbed to the top of the U.K. charts and stayed for four weeks, it still seems to hold up—it just showed up in the “Warm Bodies” trailer, too.
2. “Any Way That You Want Me”
Spiritualized covered “Any Way That You Want Me” in 1990, and after listening to both versions several times, we can’t say which is a better format for a sad unrequited love song: a three-minute pop jam or a six-minute, space-rock track recorded with a full orchestra. Both versions are desperate and sweet, at once.
3. “Give it to Me”
Like some of The Troggs greatest songs, “Give It To Me” is incredibly spare–no strings or fancy production here. Hell, there aren’t even two guitar tracks–just one simple strummed lead and a walking bass and plodding tom drums. But the greatest thing about a song like “Give It To Me” is that the very first line you hear is the chorus. They found a great hook and put it right up front instead of making you wait 30 seconds to get there. That takes balls. And after a perfectly pleasing bridge the only variation is going back to the chorus and modulating a step up. Because when you’ve got a chorus that good what else are you supposed to do but play it higher? No nonsense here, just 2 minutes and 17 seconds that will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week. -Alex Moore
4. “Love Is All Around”
When Presley first released “Love is All Around” in 1967 with The Troggs, it peaked at #22 on the U.K. charts—great for a three-year old band that had already churned out some of its biggest hits. But almost three decades later, Wet Wet Wet covered it as a Top 40 slow jam for the soundtrack for “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and that version spent 15 consecutive weeks at the top of the charts. It might have felt like a sell-out to old-school Troggs fans, but Presley put the royalties to good use: funding his research into crop circles, which he later shared in a book called “Wild Things They Don’t Tell Us.” Everyone needs a hobby, right?
5. “Strange Movies”
Presley has a pretty pervy voice to start with, but “Strange Movies” really emphasizes that quality. A song with a playful bass, sexy(?) panting and lyrics about watching orgy pornos, it capitalizes on Presley’s natural gift for sounding horny, without being so gross you have to turn it off.
6. “Wild Thing”
The thing about “Wild Thing” is that it starts almost an octave higher in the first second than the rest of the song. That quick note-drop at the beginning does more for any pop song in the last sixty years than any amount of LSD did for The Beatles. But what makes ‘Wild Thing’ truly work is its simplicity. The song is three chords and lasts less than three minutes. It’s an exercise in economy, and proof that you don’t (ever) need a 100-piece orchestra to get your point across. True creativity is learning how to about how to do the most with what you have. The fact that that band could get that much done with just three chords, in three minutes, is astounding. — Ned Hepburn
7. “I Want You”
This is another one where the quality of Presley’s voice makes the song a lot sexier than anyone else could. The lyrics are actually pretty boring: “I want you, I said, I want you/ I can’t stand alone on my own/ I want you,” but the way he says it—like he’s about to make himself sick if he can’t have you—charges the song with teenage lust and keeps it at a steady level of intensity for the full two minutes and 16 seconds.