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From Andover . . . with "Love'

He wrote Love Is All Around 26 years ago, and to this day, Troggs lead singer Reg Presley receives weekly requests from artists wanting to do cover versions.

"What was sent to me recently was Love Is All Around done in reggae, by an Australian band," Presley said, laughing, in a recent phone interview from his home in Andover, England. "I can't believe it, . . . and it sounds quite good, actually."

None have matched the success of Scottish pop quartet Wet Wet Wet, whose Love version was used in the popular Four Weddings and a Funeral film earlier this year. The single topped the British chart for 14 weeks, the second-longest reign there in rock history, behind Bryan Adams' (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. In America, Love hasn't fared as well, barely missing out on the Top 40, but it remains on Billboard magazine's chart after 17 weeks.

The original, which peaked in America at No. 7 in 1968, appears on a new 12-track compilation, The Best of The Troggs (Fontana).

Love Is All Around was released two years after the rock quartet scored a stateside No. 1 with the raunchy Wild Thing. Many thought Love suited the flower-power era, but Presley said it was more personal than that.

"I had just come back from a long tour. . . . It was a Sunday, and the television was on when I walked into the room after a heavy English lunch, as it were," he said. "It was nice to be home. The telly was on, and I went to slop down on the sofa.

"Playing on the box was a Salvation Army band called the Joy Strings. They were shaking their tambourines and singing about love, and immediately I had an idea. I rushed to turn off the TV so I could think about it.

"The song was written in about 15 or 20 minutes. It was one of the fastest ones I had ever written."

The song's longevity is easy to explain, Presley said.

"It doesn't offend anybody in any way, and you don't readily get fed up with it very quickly, either. It's just one of those things."

The Troggs still tour, mostly in Europe. When he's not on the road, Presley concentrates on his other obsession: gathering evidence that corn circles in England are messages from beings not of this planet.

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