The Troggs Tapes: ‘Put a Little Bit of F***ing Fairy Dust Over the Bastard!’

Reg Pres­ley, lead singer of the Six­ties rock group The Trog­gs, died Mon­day at the age of 71. The Trog­gs (short for Troglodytes) are often men­tioned as a major influ­ence on the punk rock move­ment of the 1970s. They record­ed a string of hits between 1966 and 1968, most notably “Wild Thing.” The Trog­gs are also remembered—much to the band’s chagrin—for one of the most noto­ri­ous bootlegs ever: “The Trog­gs Tapes,” described by Uncut mag­a­zine as a “hilar­i­ous, 12-minute swearathon.”

The Trog­gs Tapes were record­ed in Lon­don in 1970. The band was work­ing on a song called “Tran­quil­i­ty,” but things weren’t going well, and the ses­sion degen­er­at­ed into a foul-mouthed orgy of acri­mo­ny and recrim­i­na­tion. A copy of the record­ing some­how made it onto the boot­leg mar­ket and became leg­endary. Sat­ur­day Night Live par­o­died the Trog­gs Tapes in a sketch with Bill Mur­ray, John Belushi and oth­ers play­ing a group of frus­trat­ed medieval musi­cians who say the word “flog­ging” over and over. The tapes are also par­o­died in This is Spinal Tap, dur­ing the record­ing scene at the “Rain­bow Trout Stu­dios.” In a piece this week pay­ing trib­ute to Reg Pres­ley, the Tele­graph music crit­ic Neil McCormick writes:

Before the inter­net, The Trog­gs Tapes were hard to find, yet every­one seemed to know about them, an elu­sive­ness that only added to their allure. I remem­ber get­ting my hands on a copy in a Dublin flea mar­ket, then sit­ting aroud late at night with friends laugh­ing our­selves sil­ly at the inani­ty and pal­pa­ble sense of frus­tra­tion as the musi­cians fail to find a way to artic­u­late and cap­ture some sound idea, beyond the reach of either their lan­guage or their tech­ni­cal abil­i­ties.… In truth, it is the kind of con­ver­sa­tion you can hear every day in record­ing stu­dios all around the world, but there was some­thing lib­er­at­ing and myth-bust­ing about the expe­ri­ence of eaves­drop­ping on these unguard­ed musi­cians at work.

You can lis­ten to an abridged ver­sion of The Trog­gs Tapes above. To learn more about Reg Pres­ley, you can read his fit­ting­ly uncon­ven­tion­al obit­u­ary in The Tele­graph. And to end things off on a pos­i­tive note, we offer a glimpse of The Trog­gs when things were going con­sid­er­ably more smooth­ly, with the band per­form­ing “Wild Thing” in 1966:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear the 1962 Bea­t­les Demo that Dec­ca Reject­ed: “Gui­tar Groups are on Their Way Out, Mr. Epstein”

8,976 Free Grate­ful Dead Con­cert Record­ings in the Inter­net Archive, Explored by the New York­er

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