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Black Monk Time
April 21, 2006 3:44 PM   Subscribe

The Monks
Formed in the early '60s by American G.I.s stationed in Germany. After their discharge, the group settled in Germany to concentrate on finding a unique sound, and soon began to shave their hair into Monk's tonsures and appear in cassocks. One of the truely original bands of the 60's, The Monks are now often refered to as 'proto-punk'. The Monks experimented fervently, developing a unqiue sound, with heavy bass, repetitive but amelodic rhythms, nursery rhyme style, yet powerful vocals and a good helping of feedback. They recorded only one albumn, Black Monk Time, until their 1999 reunion.
Hear some tracks from the albumn (in realmedia), See and hear The Monks Live in Germany, Also, check out Monks - The Transatlantic Feedback, a documentary (with trailer, though there seems to be something wrong with it). [Trivia: the song I Hate You can be heard in the background in one scene in the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski]
posted by MetaMonkey (24 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oops, link correction: Black Monk Time
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:45 PM on April 21, 2006


Hey, hey, we're the Monks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:46 PM on April 21, 2006


Other Monks.
posted by tula at 3:53 PM on April 21, 2006


I saw them at the 1999 Cavestomp show -- really fun, and I love the backstory...
posted by AJaffe at 3:56 PM on April 21, 2006


The Monks entry in the Hall of Dynamic Greatness

great band! great post!
posted by elr at 4:06 PM on April 21, 2006


Minneapolis has sort of claimed them as a local band, for no real reason other than one of the bandmembers hailed from these parts.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:07 PM on April 21, 2006


Very cool. I'm surprised and glad this isn't a double.
posted by bardic at 4:07 PM on April 21, 2006


Black Monk Time link still not working. Awesome post though, fascinating. I'm having one of those 'how have I never heard of these guys?' moments.
posted by tula at 4:09 PM on April 21, 2006


A fellow mefite and I have been enamored with the youtube videos for quite some time. The Monks were truly a force to be reckoned with, sad that they weren't more popular.
posted by cloeburner at 4:10 PM on April 21, 2006


Right, here it is: Black Monk Time.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:12 PM on April 21, 2006


The Monks have long been a favorite of mine.
posted by modularette at 5:08 PM on April 21, 2006


Awesome post! Those youtube videos are fantastic for so many reasons - the way Gary winks to the camera, the way they're just effortlessly cool and recklessly out there and raw, the way the audience dances, the way a guy in tie and blazer kind of jigs his way onto stage near the end. It's all so beautiful.
posted by nylon at 5:10 PM on April 21, 2006


Great post Monkey! I agree with tula, how have I never heard of these guys? The real audio tracks are awesome.
posted by octothorpe at 5:10 PM on April 21, 2006


Wow, this makes Devo even less legitimate as an original act (if that was even possible). Love it, especially the clips of the kids trying to figure out how to dance to this.
posted by skallas at 5:13 PM on April 21, 2006


One of the truely original bands of the 60's, The Monks are now often refered to as 'proto-punk'. The Monks experimented fervently, developing a unqiue sound, with heavy bass, repetitive but amelodic rhythms, nursery rhyme style, yet powerful vocals and a good helping of feedback.

Wait, what? All of that and no 'Wall of Sound'? What the hell kind of half-assed band doesn't produce a Wall of Sound?

Oooooh, ok, it's a Steamroller of Sound.

The band also assaulted the crowds sonically, demanding their complete and undivided attention. If the audience tried to interact socially with one another, the Monks turned the volume up to ear-splitting levels. "We didn't want anybody to do anything but listen to us," Roger Johnston said. The results were electrifying. Phil Spector might have invented the legendary "Wall of Sound," but the Monks hammered out a "Steamroller of Sound."

Ahhh, the good ole sonic assault.
posted by stavrogin at 5:19 PM on April 21, 2006


Very old news indeed to aged punks like me, but always nice to see stuff about these guys again.

The Fall's version of "Black Monk Time" knocks the original into a cocked hat, however. But then I believe The Fall are the most godlike band ever to walk this earth.
posted by Decani at 5:26 PM on April 21, 2006


"But then I believe The Fall are the most godlike band ever to walk the earth."

Yeah, you and 49,999 fans. ;)
posted by modularette at 5:49 PM on April 21, 2006


Yeah, you and 49,999 fans. ;)

There are only four real Fall fans. John Peel, who is dead. Me. My mate Moos. And my mum. And I lied about my mum.
posted by Decani at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2006


I thought the MC5 and the Fugs were the original proto-punks.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:36 PM on April 21, 2006


Monks predated those guys. And they preached some anti-war rhetoric with fervor. Is there a torrent for the documentary anywhere?
posted by destro at 9:17 PM on April 21, 2006


awesome!
posted by quonsar at 9:38 PM on April 21, 2006


Great post.

I just stumbled upon The Monks though YouTube about two weeks ago, and was utterly agog.

Like tula said - how is it I'd never heard of them before?

The YouTube videos are from 1966, for God's sake.

How many utterly original bands have there ever been, much less bands that produce a sound-template as compelling and radical as these guys?

They kind of remind me of the Velvets in that way, but in other ways ways, they were even more radical, especially when you throw those insane "reverse mohawks" into the bargain.
posted by yakcat01 at 11:11 PM on April 21, 2006


So many Monks.
posted by Ohdemah at 8:24 AM on April 22, 2006


Woah, thanks!
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:17 AM on April 22, 2006


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