Monday, August 17, 2009

The Monks - Black Monk Time (no label, 1997)

The Monks - Shut Up

The Monks - Higgle-Dy-Piggle-Dy

I've been listening to a decent amount of old garage rock lately, specifically The Monks and The Sonics. After searching around a bit for a copy of The Monks' Black Monk Time on vinyl, I found a copy at a record store while visiting a school in Rochester, NY, only to get home and find out what I bought was an "unofficial" release. Technically, it's a bootleg of the CD release by Repertoire. But whatever, it sounds great and has a few extra songs on it. Who cares if it's not 180 gram and doesn't have extensive liner notes.

I guess it's necessary to mention the fact that The Monks were 5 American soldiers stationed in Germany in the '60s who decided to make some music. Once they were all discharged, they just stuck around and kept at it. The songs on Black Monk Time are not your usual typical garage style and I fucking love it for that. The Monks are often called the founders of krautrock (even if they didn't know it at the time) and while the motorik beats are pretty unmistakable, I can't say I really hear it. Maybe it's just hard for me to distinguish the obvious garage sound with what I normally think of with krautrock.

Aside from the garage and kraut, there's lots of other crazy stuff going on. Strange sounds like fucked up banjos and organs, and crazy lyrics. I would put money on the fact that these guys knew exactly what they were saying and were just seeing if they could get away with it.

I think Black Monk Time is one of those records that's appealing on so many levels. There's the novelty factor (American soldiers dressed like Monks living in Germany? Really?), there's the forefathers of krautrock thing (which should be enough for anyone), and then there's the fact that this is just awesome as shit '60s garage rock. How could anyone not want to listen to this?

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