1001 Albums: Black Monk Time

#65

Album_65_Original

Artist: The Monks

Album: Black Monk Time

Year: 1966

Length: 29:48

Genre: Garage Rock/Proto-Punk

“Alright, my name’s Gary
Let’s go, it’s beat time, it’s hop time, it’s monk time now!
You know we don’t like the army
What army?
Who cares what army?
Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?
Mad Viet Cong
My brother died in Vietnam!
James Bond, who was he?
Stop it, stop it, I don’t like it!
It’s too loud for my ears
Pussy galore’s comin’ down and we like it
We don’t like the atomic bomb
Stop it, stop it, I don’t like it . . . stop it!”

I’m a negative person. I think that’s been pretty apparent. It’s just kind of who I am. I’ve always been relatively negative, but as the years go by I find my negativity slowly growing and growing. I’m not really a pessimist. More of a realist. Depending on the context I could either be an optimistic-realist or a pessimistic-realist. If you ask me if the glass is half full or half empty, my response would be it depends, was the glass emptied or filled? If someone poured water into it, it’s half-full, but if water had been removed, it’s half-empty. That’s usually how I see it. I’m optimistic or pessimistic based on the context of the situation and the possible outcome.

That being said, I’m still negative even when I’m feeling optimistic. My go-to emotions usually tend to be sadness, anger or envy, which anyone can tell you are terribly negative emotions to have. I don’t do it on purpose, it just seems to be the initial response to most situations… unfortunately. It’s not great, but every day I fight those negative feelings and try to overcome them and am taking baby steps to pick up my positivity. It helps to that it’s all balanced out by Sandra, who’s a super positive and bubbly person. If it weren’t for her balancing out my negativity, I don’t know how bad I’d be right now. Probably really bad… scares me to even think about it.

So, when I am met with great moments of positivity, I usually tend to bask in it and enjoy it while it lasts. These days it’s been few and far between, so it’s really a treat when it occurs. One thing that creates this effect is discovering new music I love. This is exactly what happened when Black Monk Time started to play on my Ipod. We all know that feeling when we discover something new that just connects with us. The initial “What’s this?”, the growing excitement, the pure pleasure of it all and the final satisfaction of happiness that was this new discovery. That is what happened with this album.

I had never heard of The Monks before and the very simple album cover left much to the imagination. Who is this band? What style are they? What would the music be like? I could only imagine the endless possibilities of what I might experience and all my expectations were exceeded. It helps that this was Proto-Punk too. Being such a huge fan of Punk, New Wave and Post-Punk, this was sort of the missing link of those styles that I’ve been waiting for my whole life (or since I was 18 at least).

What happens when an american rock band goes to Germany to record? You get this album. Without the american companies controlling the music they create and shaping them to be marketable and accessible to the masses for profit, The Monks were able to let loose with their music and create exactly what they wanted with no one breathing down their necks. If you take time to listen to their lyrics, there’s no way any american producer would have let them keep that (for the 60s that is). This album would become heavily influential to the Punk genre, with it’s simple yet aggressive musical arrangements, it’s angry “Fuck you” lyrical content and it’s devil-may-care attitude. I wouldn’t be surprised many Punk bands were heavily influenced either directly or indirectly by this album. I definitely hear a little bit of Stiff Little Fingers and Pylon in this. Thanks to it’s production in Germany it would also open the door to Kraut-Rock (a genre I haven’t heard much of, but the little I have heard I have enjoyed immensely).

Upon it’s release it was not a commercial success, only getting attention later on once people started to realise it’s influence. That makes sense since none of the songs found on this album adhere to the pop formula. I can see listeners tuning in to the record and being turned off by what they heard back when it came out. Even though some garage bands managed to make some mainstream notice, what separates The Monks from… say… The Sonics, is that they really did their own thing and managed to create something completely different. The Sonics may have sounded dirtier and raw, but they still had covers of popular tunes in their repertoire, The Monks were 100% original.

What’s interesting about this album is that it’s a perfect example of repetition being used masterfully. The music gets incredibly repetitive with the same riff being used throughout, with slight variations to make it seem different. For the most part it feels like the same beat and tune being played, with some fills and additional changes thrown in for spice and flavour. But where repetition can be incredibly annoying, here it’s completely infectious. You find the beat sticking with you, invading your core and making you feel the music, dancing and tapping away. As it goes on it grows on you and overtakes you rather than pushes you away.

I’ve lost track of what my current favourite album on the list is. I sort of stopped mentioning which one it was but my best bet was Jerry Lee Lewis – Live at the Star Club, Hamburg, (Which Sandra got for me on vinyl for my birthday, imported from Europe!!!!) but it’s safe to say, this one has overtaken it and is now my current favourite. I had listened to this twice already in a short amount of time and am already ready to listen to it a third time, I loved it that much.

Nothing better than new discoveries and I hope there are many more to come. (Probably are).

 

Song of Choice: I Hate You

-Bosco