Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Monks - The Early Years 1964 - 1965

The Monks came onto my radar via the wacky videos of the band's German TV performances that circulated throughout the 80's Garage scene. These American GI's, AWOL from the Army in Germany, created some of the craziest, pre-psychedelic percussive stomp music you've ever heard! And, the had a wild look, as they all dressed in black with nooses around their necks and monks' tonsure haircuts, just as all the rest of the bands were letting their hair grow long! So far ahead of their time that the rest of us still haven't caught up!

This CD - with an extensive booklet - is a collection of demos for the songs that eventually appeared on their one album, Black Monk Time (which I am shocked to see that I haven't written about here). Without doing a side-by-side comparison, I think that all of these made it onto the record, but is different forms - sometimes dramatically different. It's all still great, and I really dig hearing their formative versions of "Monk Time", "Boys are Boys", "Space Age" (even more primitive and noisy!), "I Hate You", "Pretty Suzanne" (wonderfully twisted guitar work here) "Oh, How To Do Now" and more!

There are also a couple of tunes that were released as a single by the pre-Monks band, the 5 Torquays, which are still pretty Monks-ish - "Boys Are Boys" and "There She Walks". But, without the banjo and with a slightly more "normal" arrangement, they don't sound quite as insane, though it is pretty unique.

I think my biggest "problem" with the Monks was that there was only one record, but now that's been rectified! Yes, the songs are familiar but with enough variation to be fresh and interesting. Well worth it!