All About The Monks

     |    Thursday October 22nd, 2009

The New York Times about the Monks


The joyously hostile songs on the Monks’ 1966 album, “Black Monk Time” – newly reissued on the Light in the Attic label – would be essential, strange 1960s artifacts even without the band’s back story.

The Monks were American G.I.’s stationed in Frankfurt who after their discharge in 1964 stayed there, put on robes and shaved their hair into tonsures to play songs expatriated not just from the United States but from anything approaching sanity. With instruments including a typical cheap electric organ and an atypical electric banjo, they cackled through songs that straddled skiffle and garage-rock, mixed vocal harmonies with atonal yowls and encompassed both relentless one-chord minimalism and peculiar stabs at pop. The album starts with a jittery antiwar screed, “Monk Time,” and goes on to juggle come-ons, tirades and manic, beat-driven nonsense. The levels of craftsmanship, savage glee, concept, put-on and inspiration are innumerable and inseparable.