Wednesday, 6 June 2007

You should own a Monks album

You should go and buy Black Monk Time by The Monks.

Formed in 1964 by a bunch of American GIs stationed in Germany, The Monks were the paranoid, dark, existential progenitors of punk.

While the Beatles were singing “She Loves You”, The Monks sang “I Hate You”. Their songs were pounding, drum-driven, with unconventional structures, cynical lyrics, scratchy banjo, and howling and scowling vocals.

Bass player Eddie Shaw described the day they discovered feedback, crucial to their sound, "Just imagine the sound of the Titanic scraping along an iceberg," he said. "It was like discovering fire."

The band wore nooses around their necks, and shaved their heads into monk-like tonsures. They sang about Vietnam “People go to their deaths for you,” and resentment, “You know why I hate you baby? It's because you make me hate you baby.” Their debut and only album, Black Monk Time was released in 1966 to a wall of indifference. They split up in 1967, shortly before a planned tour of Vietnam.
Since their split, however, they have become the cult band’s cult band of choice. ‘Complication’ appeared on seminal garage punk compilation, Nuggets. Jello Biafra, The Beastie Boys, Jon Spencer and The Fall have all acknowledged their debt to the band. Jack White said of them, “Their melodies were pop destructive and must be played to your younger brother.”.

The Fall have covered various Monk songs, one for the forthcoming Monks tribute album, Silver Monk Time, which also includes contributions from hot now bands the Gossip, Mouse On Mars, The and Chicks on Speed.

The band reformed in 1999, to play the Cavestomp festival in York. Roger, their drummer, died in 2004, but the band continue to play shows in Europe and the USA, with the same intensity and passion that fuelled them in the 1960s.

I'm in all girl Monks tribute band, The Nuns. Do come and see us play some time.

And here are the far out friars on German TV in 1966

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