12.29.2008

The Monks: Five Upstart Americans (GER, 1965)

One of the strangest stories in rock history, the Monks were formed in the early '60s by American G.I.s stationed in Germany. After their discharge, the group stayed on in Germany as the Torquays, a fairly standard beat band. After changing their name to the Monks in the mid-'60s, they also changed their music, attitude, and appearance radically. Gone were standard oldie covers, replaced by furious, minimalist original material that anticipated the blunt, harsh commentary of the punk era. Their insistent rhythms recalled martial beats and polkas as much as garage rock, and the weirdness quotient was heightened by electric banjo, berserk organ runs, and occasional bursts of feedback guitar. To prove that they meant business, the Monks shaved the top of their heads and performed their songs -- crude diatribes about the Vietnam war, dehumanized society, and love/hate affairs with girls -- in actual monks' clothing.

ALBUM REVIEW

Rawer than their primordial opus, Black Monk Time, Five Upstart Americans is a collection of demos by proto-punks the Monks (recorded when they were still known as the Torquays). While most demonstration recordings are, by nature, more primitive than the finished product, these sessions could be seen as even more representative of the Monks primal vision. Here their "over-beat" songs of love/hate, confusion, and frustration are stripped to their bare essentials, with minimal lyrics and overdubs. Taped in a single day in 1965, most of these performances remained unreleased for 34 years ("I Hate You" and "Oh, How to Do Now" were included as bonus tracks on Infinite Zero's reissue of Black Monk Time in 1997). Though essential listening for Monk converts, the uninitiated should bless themselves with Black Monk Time before proceeding further. Five Upstart Americans also includes their first 45 (as Five Torquays), which only hints at what was to come.


THE MONKS
...served by germt...

9 comments:

Pablo "Pochola" Cazorla said...

No Password!
get it!
...link served by germt...
thanks!

Plante said...

Me encantan los Monks, me parecen un grupo muy interesante, sobretodo esa faceta tan caótica que tienen. A ver a que sabe este disco.
Gracias.
Plante.

Neo said...

Many thankx mr. germt and mr. cazorla. Always great music in this blog.

Anonymous said...

all that Sonics live stuff, and now the Monks? truly you are spoiling us.

Anonymous said...

Such a cool band. Thank you.

Mateus Paul said...

Já conhecia e adorava o "Black Monk Time", não sabia da existência deste disco de demos!
Bem bacana a apresentação prévia do nome do tema e em seguida a banda detonando. Intrigante também saber que a banda tinha uma pegada Beat em seu início, com o nome de The Torquays, como mostram os últimos dois temas!
Achei que não existia mais material além do disco Black Monk Time, fiquei muito contente de poder ouvir outras versões e temas desta banda tão singular!
Um comentário extra é o quanto o vocalista da banda Hives (Pele) copia alguns trejeitos vocais do Gary Burger (vocal do Monks)!!

Anonymous said...

the monks rule! thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

yeah!!! thanks!

Anonymous said...

Links dead....