This next #1 will show us that, no matter how quickly pop music has grown up over the past year or so, how far chart-topping lyrics have moved into the sassier, classier, as well as the more cynical aspects of love and life, there is still room for simple little songs about a schoolboy crush.
With a Girl Like You, by The Troggs (their 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 4th – 18th August 1966
Sonically, this is real 1966 rock – raw, crunchy, proto-garage – while the singer, Reg Presley, sounds a lot like his rocky-pop counterpart Ray Davies. But lyrically it’s very cute. I want to spend my life, With a girl like you… And do all the things, That you want me to… With a simple but effective Bababumbumba hook at the end of the every line.
It’s a pop song that could work in any era; but the production here places it firmly in the mid-sixties. Think The Spencer-Davis Group, ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Pretty Flamingo’. We’ve passed through Merseybeat, and folk, stopped by for some baroque, and now we’ve gone garage. Pop music is progressing with almost every hit record.
There’s a bit of a twist here, though. ‘With a Girl Like You’ isn’t just a general ‘Saw a pretty girl and can’t stop thinking about here’ type of song. It turns out, during the middle-eight, that we’re at a dance. In a school gym? Maybe. The sort of precise and slightly banal observation that bands like The Undertones will be making in a decade or so… And it ends with the sweetest of lines: I just hope and pray, That I’ll find the way to say, Can I dance with you? It’s a nice touch, I think, that we don’t get to find out if he ever does…
It’s a short and sweet disc. Two minutes and done. I think it kinds of slips to an end prematurely. It could have had another chorus, maybe? And, as with the other garage hits from this year, I’m struggling to write much more about it. It’s a great little pop/rock tune. Keep ‘em coming!
I may not be very familiar with this record, but The Troggs are a band that most people will have heard. ‘With a Girl Like You’ was the follow-up to ‘Wild Thing’ – the definitive sixties garage rock hit? – which had stalled at #2. Not that ‘With a Girl…’ isn’t good, but perhaps it only made number one in the reflected glow of its more famous predecessor. And then there is their #5 hit from ’67, ‘Love Is All Around’, which we will meet much later on in this countdown, when Wet Wet Wet feel it in their fingers and feel it in their toes for nearly four months at the top of the charts. Shudder.
The Troggs, like pretty much every rock group we meet these days, will not see much success beyond the end of the decade. But they are still going, to this day – minus, unfortunately, a few original members. It’s right that a band with such a legacy had their moment at the top of the charts; it’s just interesting that this somewhat forgotten gem is the disc that made it…