Classic Albums: Black Monk Time by The Monks

This is the first 1960’s album I’m going to write about here on my thingy/blog under my Classic Albums, it’s pretty much the last decade in modern recorded music to be included here. It’s just got to be Black Monk Time, mostly likely my fave album of those 10 years. Monks are my The Beatles or Rolling Stones or whatever other over-rated band and/or artist from that time, OK? I was going to say something like these guys should have been as big as The Beatles or Rolling Stones but off course how the hell could they have ever been? Wearing actually monk robs, shaving squares onto of thier own heads etc. it was just a little bit odd for the mainstream crowds of the time maybe even if it happen now it would be written off as crazy or something.

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They’re labeled garage rock or proto-punk now, this album came out in early 1966 and they were going for two years before that, check out the 1965 Demos if you like the album. So that’s pretty much a year before the grandfather of punk Iggy Pop even started up The Stooges, remember their debut didn’t happen until 1969. Are these guys the very first punks? I don’t know but they top The Stooges, I guess by just looking at the dates. When I first heard them, I first moved up to the city from small country town and I think it was Henry Rollins or was it Kim Salmon? Both love to name drop, which was always great stuff.

Other getting my hands on it back in the 90’s with it’s total black record cover and the back with only a few black & white photos and the track listing, I couldn’t find anything about them then. It was mystery for while, with mis-info all the time, remember this was pre-internet days. I hear everything from they’re German band, they’re not German band, they’re American, no they’re not American then at some point came the most silly thing ever: they’re American G.I.’s in Germany but how in god’s name did they get away with dressing like monks and staving squares on top of their heads while they’re in the United States Army? It seen even more unlikely but it’s unbelievable true but then they’re discharged by the time of recording the album and just stay in Germany. When you listen to the opening track it’s pretty disapproving of the Vietnam War so it just seemed so very unlike they’re also American soldiers too. I guess back then you were just drafted and you had no choice yourself. They all were from different parts of America, I now have the 2008 reissue which has alot more info and has very long liner notes unlike my first copy of the album.

So is a dozen songs in just less than half a hour, that’s pretty much perfect for a punk album. Recording takes place at Polydor Studio in Cologne over only two days, both these were daytime sessions because it had to be while the band played shows the same nights too. Polydor producer Jimmy Bowien couldn’t believe them at first and how loud they played live, he even clams to have to go outside and sit on the footpath to put something in between him listening to the band and them playing inside the building, that was just before the recording session but sound engineer Gerd Henjes wasn’t so lucky, they just show-up very early in the morning and hardly slept the night before. After the set-up they started to play and he was saying “how am I supposed to record this band? At first it was total hell.”

The mangers were ex-art students before becoming band mangers, Walther Niemann and Karl-Heinz Remy were the ones who came up with the idea of the Monks, the name, the look before changing they were called The Five Torquays but after that the five member of the band wrote all the songs. Gary Burger on lead vocals and played guitar, Eddie Shaw on bass, Roger Johnston on drums, Larry Spangler or Clark on organ and Dave Havlicek or Day on banjo, yes that’s a banjo player and sounds like none you’ve ever heard before. Other than the even earlier recording of the demo this is the one and only album by the band, after signing to Polydor and this debut album the label didn’t known what to do with them really which I guess is not surprising. So by the end of 1967 it was all over, they broke-up and all the members when back the U.S. too and it seems they didn’t form any new bands or even play again until the reunion in 2000’s but two have passed away so only leaving three surviving Monks now. We still have Black Monk Time album so more people hopefully listen to it, continue to discover it, if you haven’y yet you should check it out now! It’s one of the greatest 60’s albums ever and if it matters to anyone it’s my fave of all-time of the sixties!

It was also in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, sandwiched in between Blonde On Blonde by Bob Dylan and The Kinks’ Face To Face. One of my most fave English bands The Fall have covered four tracks of 12 tracks from this album, if they re-recorded the whole album I would buy it. They did have a various artist tribute album in the mid-2000’s too so it’s not just me saying it’s great, you know? Those are the three tracks performs on Germany Beat TV show of the songs from the album, they’re two more but they’re tracks not on the Black Monk Time album but this is the only time they were filmed live or anything in 1966 in anyway, shape or form so just got to put it all here together!

 Black Monk Time track listing and times

1. Monk Time – 2:45
2. Shut Up – 3:10
3. Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Choice –  1:25
4. Higgle-Dy – Piggle-Dy – 2:30
5. I Hate You – 3:25
6. Oh, How To Do Now – 3:15
7. Complication – 2:33
8. We Do Wie Du – 2:12
9. Drunken Maria – 1:45
10. Love Came Tumblin’ Down – 2:30
11. Blast Off! – 2:15
12. That’s My Girl – 2:25

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So what does everyone else think about it? I’m going to keep asking you but sooner or later I’ll give up asking and just talk to myself. I really don’t mind even if you say you hate it and it’s not a classic or something like that, it’s just my opinion for this bit above but you can share yours below, you know? So is it a classic album or what?

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4 thoughts on “Classic Albums: Black Monk Time by The Monks

  1. Awesome review, man! When I saw this album on the 1001 albums list I had no idea what to expect – I’d never heard of these blokes before – but now it looks like it’ll be a RIPPER listen! Exactly the sort of stuff I like. It’s number 65, so we should get to it in about a month’s time – I might have to give it a cheeky listen beforehand though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great write-up on an awesome album. First heard Complication on the Nuggets 4-CD compilation and it blew my mind. I’ll probably write something about these guys for my site too. It’s a pretty strange album. Hey, have you seen the documentary, The Transatlantic Feedback? I’d like to track down a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah write something on yrs, I’ll loved see want you’ll say about them! They’re odd so it would fit into it and no I’ve not see the doco, I guess it would be pretty good to see!

      Like

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