Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"Wild Thing" (1966)

27. Troggs, "Wild Thing" (July 9, 1966, #1, 2 wks.)

One example of how things have changed over the decades is that it's harder to hear now how perfectly depraved this sounded at one time—so much so that parodists set to work on it almost right away, creating watered-down comic versions recorded by impersonators of Bobby Kennedy and Everett Dirksen (who?), which among other things pointed up the ridiculous presence of an ocarina in the middle of it. This Troggs hit is also, just so you know, a cover version itself of a song written by Chip Taylor and recorded by the Wild Ones a year earlier, and also the song that Jimi Hendrix played at Monterey a year later just before setting his guitar on fire. It has arguably lost some of its overwhelming power to disturb and hence thrill, and furthermore, the version I am listening to now (from a Nuggets compilation) sounds like it could benefit from a remastering. Yet for all that, including that very strange ocarina, it nonetheless retains a good bit of its effectiveness, possessed of a surprising degree of wide open space, filled alternately with crashing and not unpleasing guitar chords, that ocarina, and an affected caveman teenage lout vocal that lays it out plain: "You make my heart sing. You make everything groovy. I think I love you. I think you move me. Shake it, shake it, wild thing." As a result of its general mumbling incoherence, and the sense that these guys can barely play their instruments, it manages to paint a scene that is deeply primal, profound to its core, as all civilization virtually melts and falls away under its withering gaze. It can almost feel like witnessing the end of the world, when there is only the singer and the wild thing and the request to "shake it, shake it."

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