Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Monks - Hamburg Recordings 1967

The Monks album Black Monk Time and their performances on Beat Club were stuff of legend for decades before enough eccentric tastes caught up with them (with the help of people like Mike Stax and his Ugly Things magazine) and the record was reissued as a CD and then another CD of their Early Years was released. This five song CD-EP includes one song from the session that produced their final single and four songs that were recorded at the Top Ten Club club, where they were playing, after hours. By all accounts, these are the final recordings the group ever did.

"I'm Watching You" was done during the last "actual" recording session and its rotating riff and rhythms and chord progressions and changes are still pretty Monks-like. The rest of the numbers, though, they freely admit were not natural for them and they were a way to appease the more pop-oriented audience members. "Julia" is still a bit odd, but pretty darn pop, "PO Box 3291" has the insistent Monks rhythm and I dig the call'n'answer vocals, with the backing vocals counting out the numbers. There's some mysterious trumpet that I don't see credited (am I missing it?) on "I Need U Shatzi" along with some catchy "heys!". The trumpet reappears for the instrumental "Yellow Grass" that continues with the drivin' beat they are known for as well as the keyboards melodies, but the banjo is either missing or mixed down through these recordings.

All in all, not completely unlike the Monks, but definitely different and less eclectic than the songs they are famous for. Still, any fan should own this!