The Monks – Monk Time

Another very cool text-only album cover.

This album came out in 1966 and was only released in Germany. It is so immediately obvious that the Monks were ahead of their time that’s it barely even worth delving into.But I will anyway.

A few American G.I.’s stationed in the mid-60’s are what the Monks are made of. They gained a lot of notoriety for their look  a monk bowl haircut, black robes, and a noose for a necktie–on and off stage. But their sound is what’s really worth looking at.

Eschewing the common emphasis on melodies in pop music of the 1960’s, The Monks based their music almost exclusively on a hard driving rhythm section. Lead vocalist and guitarist Gary Burger barely even attempts to make a melody out of “Monk Time,” instead going into an almost nonsensical rant.

Alright, my name’s Gary!
Let’s go, it‘s beat time, it’s high time, it’s monk time!

But even before these first words, it’s pretty clear The Monks are something entirely different from their time. It kicks off with a driving drumkick and bassline. After a couple bars, the Monks’ key instrument comes in: the six string banjo. Giving their music a much more metallic sound than the traditional guitar, it’s the attention-grabber. They use an electric organ and guitar as well, though more discordantly than one might be used to. This isn’t to say that the band was just wacking away at their instruments–there’s a very obvious and strict sense of control over the beat.

The Kinks and the Stooges are usually the ones that get credit for kicking off the punk movement, but it’s almost a moot argument after hearing just one track from the Monks. While the others may have more broadly inspired a more energy-driven style of music, the Monks so accurately predicted the sound of the punk movement that would come several years after Black Monk Time, from the harsh vocals to the simple, metallic beat and while I’m extremely uneducated on the entire genre of punk, it’s hard not to see the Monks’ prints all over it.

It’s actually kind of funny, as their attempts at more standard ’60’s pop that make up the bonus tracks on the reissue I have are the least interesting part of the disc. It’s not that they’re bad songs, they aren’t at all, they’re just very dull in comparison to the hard-hitting true Monk-style songs.

The Monks | Monk Time {download}

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2 Responses to The Monks – Monk Time

  1. jawillisetc says:

    This is excellent stuff, where’d you find it? So noisy, sorta beefheartish, but easier to listen to. marginally.

    • Samuel says:

      Found it from a user’s list of 5 Star Albums on that I’ve since lost. Other albums on the list that I remember: Fiery Furnace’s Blue Berry Boat, Royal Bangs’ Let it Beep, Einsturzende Neubaten’s Silence is Sexy, Angels of Light’s Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home, and Silver Jews’ American Water

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