Penny Farthing 1976 / Liberation Hall 2022
Reining in their wildness in favor of sequined sonic assault, Andover veterans ride a glam-rock swan with impressive results.
With their rough-hewn sentiment – etched into eternity on such classics as “Wild Thing” and “Love Is All Around” – this ensemble seemed to be least prepared for the frills ‘n’ thrills of the glitter era, yet it would be erroneous to ignore the band’s extensive expertise in many a genre. Never known as an album-oriented entity, the ’60s heroes’ stylistic cache is on display on “The Trogg Tapes” where they deploy primal groove, blunt riffs and ultimate lyricism – all familiar features of the group’s method – to drive ten originals and an R&B staple to utter brilliance. Not to be confused with “The Troggs Tapes” – the infamous 1970 document of their in-studio quarrel – the collective’s 1976 platter captured the spirit of the cynical decade in the same way “With A Girl Like You” did for the age of innocence ten years earlier, thanks to producer Larry Page’s incessant search for successful formula, but also to the musicians’ own ability to finally let their hair down and rock hard.
And this is exactly what the quintet do on opener “Get You Tonight” whose solid stomp and sleazy licks are highly infectious, so when Reg Presley’s enticingly silky vocals deliver seductive compliments, it’s easy for the most callous listener to melt and surrender to the rhythm, the unhurried gallop served rather unassumingly by Tony Murray’s bass and Ronnie Bond’s drums, before Richard Moore and Colin Fletcher’s searing guitars interlock and soar, providing an effervescent shuffle for “We Rode Though The Night” and scintillating cocoon for the reflective “A Different Me” that should make all the young dudes swoon and the namechecked Paul McCartney smile. But then there’s the scorching, blistering blues of “Down South To Georgia” which marries sneering voice to a slider-kissed six-string assault, spilling over into the heavy buzz of “Gonna Make You” which sees the ensemble return to their time-tested method of sculpting garage rock out of grimy chops and Diddley beat.
However, the group don’t think of dirt in the half-whispered, languid “I’ll Buy You An Island” as the song’s laidback roll and surf twang are as pristine as it gets, yet the crunchy “Rolling Stone” will sweep away the sound of waves and replace the tongue-in-cheek serenity with a wondrous jangle that’s given a serrated edge, until the warm chords of “After The Rain” restore dynamic balance. Still, the tinsel that “Supergirl” and “Rock ‘n’ Lady” bring forth is stripped away once the insistent swirl of the whistle-embellished “Walkin’ The Dog” pushes the British artists towards their raucous element.
Apparently, the band refused to betray their core principles while embracing fresh fashions, and “The Trogg Tapes” is a testament to this – prompting even rock connoisseurs to reevaluate the album and simply enjoy it.