The Monks

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Missing in action classic or over-hyped? "Black Monk Time" ahead of it's time or a grim reminder of things in the past?

John O'Toole, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

MIA classic, without a doubt. If you skip the final 4 tracks of their Repetoire re-issue of _Black Monk Time_, you'll get THE picture. It's joyously misanthropic, it's brutishly simple. The fact that 5 GIs stuck in Deutschland were able to denature the sound of pop music to create something so visceral & powerful (BEFORE the advent of "heavy metal" &, of course, the proto-punk rock of the Stooges) is quite astonishing. And it's fun stuff.

The most surprising thing, though, is that their set in 1997 @ the Cavestomp festival (documented on the _Let's Start a Beat_ CD) didn't sound too dissimilar from the stuff they recorded over thirty years ago! You can't over-hype something this marvelous. (Well, YOU could, but I have a high hype-tolerance threshold for things I truly enjoy.)

I'm sure there are some dissenters in the ILM audience, though, and I'm curious to hear their complaints.

David Raposa, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

This must surely be a different The Monks to the ones who had a UK "comedy-punk" 1979 hit with 'Nice Legs Shame About the Face'.

Which wd still be justification for a good face-punching...

mark s, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Only heard 4 or 5 trax on various Nuggets, Pebbles type comps, all fantastic. Great image and sounds brutally ahead of and behind other beat-psych of similar vintage.

The OTHER Monks were in fact a couple of members of the Strawbs IIRC, and should have been publically thrashed twice. Once for THAT recd and once for being in The Strawbs.

Dr. C, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Nobody should be thrashed who has been involved with a sarcastic song in tacet support of the Tories, which Labour take seriously and totally ironically, and who look so scruffy that High Tories can't *believe* they could be anything other than Dirty Old Socialists.

However, The Monks had also been Hudson-Ford of 1973 "Pick Up The Pieces" (not the AWB song) infamy.

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

"Totally ironically" = "Totally un-ironically". "Part Of The Union" is an absolutely shit song of course but *what* a two-way pisstake ...

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I *really really really* didn't mean to turn this into a thread on the Strawbs!!!

mark s, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Sorry. Unfortunately I know nothing about the subject. Someone who does, please, steady the ship ...

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

"Black Monk Time" is conceptually ace. Some of the tracks dont quite live up to the ideas but when they do, classic.

Tom, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

oh, how to do, now? truly a great record. Unique, loud, filled with wierdness and healthy spite. Sounds like the Sonics might have if someone had stolen all of their blues & R&B records. The Fall cover the Monks a few times on record, I think, which says something, though I'm not sure exactly what. The book written by the Monks' bass player, Eddie Shaw, and his German wife, also called Black Monk Time (uh, the book, not the wife), is an good read, too.

pauls, Sunday, 17 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I hate you, hate you, hate you, hate you . . .

I heard Mark E. Smith sneer this and thought it was the triumph of the record, then found out it was by the Monks, never got to hear anymore but have always been desperate too, that and the Seeds, but now I have all the Seeds, the same feeling of hearing and needing to have.

Maryann, Monday, 18 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

dude, you *have* heard the Monks! i was there! you went, Who is this - Sean O'Reilly was playing it - he told you who it was, you said it was good! i remember it clearly!

duane Z., Monday, 18 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

black monk time is a brilliant album. the monks are, in fact, nearly as good as the seeds

gareth, Monday, 18 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Eddie Shaw's wife not called Black Monk Time, so dud.

mark s, Monday, 18 June 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

three months pass...
Did anyone see the reunion in NYC a year or two ago? I heard it was to happen a day before it did. I have heard very little about how it turned out. Anybody?

Mark, Sunday, 30 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

three years pass...
hi there, great article, and i got a kick out of all the comments. thanks for keeping the monks alive, sincerely dave day- banjo player of the monks,. take care, d.d,.

dave day havlicek, Friday, 29 October 2004 12:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Fucking awesome.
I love that record.

TOMBOT, Friday, 29 October 2004 14:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Dang, very sweet indeed to see you here, Mr. Day! Good on yer.

For a brief second I was totally surprised at TOMBOT's love, then the obviousness of it became apparent.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 29 October 2004 14:18 (sixteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
I guess I should use this thread to revive -- Mr. Day was kind enough to drop me a line the other day to pass on some tragic news. Drummer Roger Johnston of the Monks has died. Probably the greatest rumble-tribal-stomp drummer of his time outside of St. Mo Tucker herself.


Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 13 November 2004 21:11 (fifteen years ago) link

don, Saturday, 13 November 2004 21:56 (fifteen years ago) link

Eddie wrote a little bit about Roger at my site, and I just posted it today, along with a bunch of other Monks stuff

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 15 November 2004 23:29 (fifteen years ago) link

Some of the rest of the band is reuniting in Germany next weekend, by the way.

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 15 November 2004 23:30 (fifteen years ago) link

That's an absolutely fabulous eulogy by the reverend at his funeral. Sure, a bit rockist at one point or another ;-) -- but seriously, that to my mind strikes me as a fine celebration not simply of a legend but more to the point, a life. Thanks for the link (and as well for the quote of my post near the end).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 15 November 2004 23:41 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...
I saw this:

And now I must own everything from this wonderful band.

1966. Holy mother of fuck. God bless, em.

Brian O'Neill (NYCNative), Monday, 24 April 2006 07:20 (fourteen years ago) link

The "Infinite Zero" reissue is a must own for *everybody*.

The "Five Upstart Americans" is good for background 'Study'.

"Let's start a beat" is the heartwarming 'end of the movie' moment. Less essential naturally, but nice.

And you have to get the book. It's worth the effort.

And all the youtube stuff...

mark grout (mark grout), Monday, 24 April 2006 07:31 (fourteen years ago) link

I keep watching it, over and over again.
I can't believe something like this exists.

Brian O'Neill (NYCNative), Monday, 24 April 2006 07:46 (fourteen years ago) link

feel free to add your testimonial here too, Brian:

The Monks vids from YouTube - Classic or Dud?

There is no such thing as too much Monks love.

scott seward (scott seward), Monday, 24 April 2006 09:59 (fourteen years ago) link

one year passes...

videos still unavailable.

curmudgeon, Friday, 11 January 2008 01:23 (twelve years ago) link

better than the sonics

S-, Friday, 11 January 2008 01:42 (twelve years ago) link

true, and the sonics fucking ruled.

GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ, Friday, 11 January 2008 10:04 (twelve years ago) link

I am so glad the absolutely wretched "Nice Legs" isn't the REAL Monks, because I honestly wasn't sure (well, obviously I knew it wasn't the proper lineup, but I thought it might be a Kokomo moment, you know?).

I guess this thread all that time ago (it was something on 2000/2001-ILM or one of the associated blogs, anyway) got me to pick up Five Upstart Americans, which was pretty neat but not quite as neat as I was hoping. I really should get Black Monk Time, which I still hope is where things really are that neat.

Sort of figured I must be the only ILMer not to have heard BMT, which I've been aware is a shameful hole in my musical education for some time, so I'm surprised this thread isn't a good deal longer. Maybe it all just went without saying?

a passing spacecadet, Friday, 11 January 2008 10:33 (twelve years ago) link

I dig the shit out of the Monks.

Helltime Redux, Friday, 11 January 2008 18:32 (twelve years ago) link

My friend saw Transatlantic Feedback, the movie about the Monks, in Chicago sometime in the last year or two. I'd really love to see that.
Any info on upcoming screenings or DVD release?

Trip Maker, Friday, 11 January 2008 18:36 (twelve years ago) link

Black Monk Time is amaaaaaaaazing

jessie monster, Friday, 11 January 2008 18:49 (twelve years ago) link


Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 11 January 2008 18:54 (twelve years ago) link

(er, Dave Day has passed)

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 11 January 2008 18:54 (twelve years ago) link

He's going to be buried in the same cemetery as Jimi Hendrix.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Friday, 11 January 2008 19:00 (twelve years ago) link

Bless you Dave Day. You never knew who I was and not nearly enough people knew who you were but your music meant the world to me.

I'm a Monk.
You're a Monk.
We're all Monks...

It's Monk Time.

NYCNative, Saturday, 12 January 2008 05:10 (twelve years ago) link

I'm beginning to wonder if this ain't the wrong board for this...

PappaWheelie V, Saturday, 12 January 2008 05:12 (twelve years ago) link

nine months pass...

New documentary out !

oscar, Thursday, 30 October 2008 22:27 (eleven years ago) link

This screened at the WFMU fair, apparently. Too bad I was 3,000 miles away. According to that link the dvd release is postponed indefinitely, though it looks to be touring around the country from movie house to movie house--why the hell not in LA??

I bought Black Monk Time about a month ago and it is easily one of the best things I've picked up all year.

scott pgwp (pgwp), Friday, 31 October 2008 06:18 (eleven years ago) link

That's hard to do: It's out of print, and hardly ever turns up second-hand. EEspecially the 'infinite zero' one with all the singles/extra tracks.

Mark G, Friday, 31 October 2008 07:16 (eleven years ago) link

I've got the release on Retribution Records. Am I missing anything?

I'm so excited about this film coming to Seattle!!!!

The Ungrateful Dead (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Saturday, 1 November 2008 06:15 (eleven years ago) link

four months pass...

By way of warm up for... the news that the Monks music is back in print! (Just got an eight in Spin. Geez, what does it take to get a nine or ten?)

Pete Scholtes, Friday, 20 March 2009 02:05 (eleven years ago) link

BTW, I posted a 2004 link above about Roger Johnston that has since been broken (ugh, City Pages), so here's that post again:

Pete Scholtes, Friday, 20 March 2009 02:09 (eleven years ago) link

The documentary is apparently now available on dvd, too.

scott pgwp (pgwp), Friday, 20 March 2009 03:15 (eleven years ago) link

I was all set to preorder both CDs from Light in the Attic but now I can't find any mention of the planned Black Monk Time reissue- not on their front page, in their store, anywhere. I hope they didn't run into last-minute rights issues or some such bullshit.

Telephone thing, Friday, 20 March 2009 04:28 (eleven years ago) link

BMT has been on eMusic for months now... not much help if you don't use eMusic, though.

scott pgwp (pgwp), Friday, 20 March 2009 06:08 (eleven years ago) link

i love every last song i've heard from this band.

billstevejim, Friday, 20 March 2009 06:10 (eleven years ago) link

Man this reissue sounds illy

steady mmmobyn (Whiney G. Weingarten), Friday, 8 January 2010 12:43 (ten years ago) link

as in "this is sick" or as in "bad sound quality"

I saw that one vinyl Monks thing the other day but it was too $$$ for me

dmr, Friday, 8 January 2010 14:58 (ten years ago) link

eight months pass...


Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile (dayo), Friday, 1 October 2010 17:32 (ten years ago) link


redd cool card-pitt (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 1 October 2010 17:38 (ten years ago) link



Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile (dayo), Friday, 1 October 2010 17:40 (ten years ago) link


short-haired valium crazies (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 2 October 2010 05:03 (ten years ago) link


Mark G, Monday, 4 October 2010 08:49 (ten years ago) link

^ been waiting for this to show up

meisenfek, Monday, 4 October 2010 10:00 (ten years ago) link

(most memorable)

meisenfek, Monday, 4 October 2010 10:01 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...

So it seems like Eddie wrote another book a few years ago but it doesn't look like it ever got published.

Leopard Skin POLL-Box Hat (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 26 January 2013 22:54 (seven years ago) link

I don't know if these interview were linked anywhere else but I never saw them before today so:

Leopard Skin POLL-Box Hat (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 26 January 2013 23:15 (seven years ago) link

Also if you never heard the most excellent holiday parody "It's Reindeer Time," by MIke Fornatale you can find it here : So good that it got him a gig as replacement singer and auxiliary member when Gary lost his voice. Now he is doing something similar for The Left Banke.

Leopard Skin POLL-Box Hat (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 26 January 2013 23:43 (seven years ago) link

The videos of The Monks playing that German TV show... Man. Seeing them for the first time was like seeing God create the universe.

There's a thread devoted just to those videos here, IIRC.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Sunday, 27 January 2013 13:35 (seven years ago) link


Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Sunday, 27 January 2013 14:19 (seven years ago) link

Just realized how many of these tunes feature a "Truck Driver's Gear Change" but what else were they gonna do?

Leopard Skin POLL-Box Hat (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 January 2013 21:57 (seven years ago) link

That's true, but rather an ersatz mood boost, it's a shift into the deranged - tends to make you want to edge away slowly than have you punching the air.

Say Bo to a (Fizzles), Monday, 28 January 2013 07:41 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

Gary Burger has passed away. :(

KCB (Kent Burt), Saturday, 15 March 2014 00:02 (six years ago) link

Aw, RIP.

emil.y, Saturday, 15 March 2014 00:11 (six years ago) link

Its that 'oh, this thread got revived? Uh oh..' monk time

"Ok, now his name was Gary.."


Mark G, Saturday, 15 March 2014 00:15 (six years ago) link

RIP, The Monks were amazing, way ahead of their time. Hell, they are STILL ahead of our time imo.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 15 March 2014 00:17 (six years ago) link

What they did almost 50 years ago still brings out fresh, creative responses on the '07 tribute album, where Gary memorably materializes, still on top of things: Still sounds good. Never did see the doc.

dow, Saturday, 15 March 2014 01:27 (six years ago) link

True hero of music

gimme the lute (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 15 March 2014 02:54 (six years ago) link

RIP. I remember first hearing about the Monks in a WFMU catalog and got the Repertoire reissue shortly afterwards, and I've listened to it pretty consistently since. Dude was great. Love his crazy voice and that guitar sound is still awesome.

brains hangin (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 15 March 2014 07:05 (six years ago) link

Sad news. Thank you for the music Gary.

Hinklepicker, Saturday, 15 March 2014 07:23 (six years ago) link

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Saturday, 15 March 2014 08:50 (six years ago) link

Most recent post on The Monks' message board is kind of poignant

I Forgot More Than You'll Ever POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 March 2014 12:37 (six years ago) link

This was one of the albums Henry Rollins reissued on his short-lived Infinite Zero imprint...1995-ish I guess? Anyway, it was a revelation to twenty-something me.

Johnny Fever, Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:34 (six years ago) link

That documentary is really great, too. Nice to revisit all those guys when they are older and they are totally the most normal, nicest people just living in their little towns maybe singing w the church, etc. They are so humble and chill and yet the music they made in the 60s was just sooooooo off the leash, just wild, wild stuff. They combined punk, industrial, alt country, krautrock, and genres into a rad electro-acoustic minimalist garage rock stomp that no one has come close to topping.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:43 (six years ago) link

i meant "and genres yet undiscovered"

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:43 (six years ago) link

Yeah, I tracked down the Infinite Zero reissue in Mondo Kim's. That's what New York is for!

Mark G, Saturday, 15 March 2014 20:35 (six years ago) link

four months pass...

Missed this until now. Gary was so hugely generous and kind, and amazing live. When I saw him with the "Mock Monks" at the Bryant-Lake Bowl circa the Iraq War he growled "George Bush, who the hell is he?" This was after my article came out about them, and when I shook hands with him before the show, he smiled and said, "I have something for you," and gave me an honorary noose, which I put around the collar of my black shirt.

Peter Scholtes, Thursday, 7 August 2014 20:41 (six years ago) link

two years pass...




Third Man Records is excited to announce The Monks' Hamburg Tapes 1967, featuring five unheard tracks from the legendary group. To ring in the announcement, Dangerous Minds has premiered the new track "I'm Watching You," noting that "these songs aren't just some forgotten cast-offs, they're as vital and as punchy as everything else the Monks recorded." The album will see a vinyl and CD release on June 23.

The Monks - a strange, rare group with a story that sounds like a drunk friend's generous hyperbole. A group of American G.I.s stationed in Germany on the precipice of Western cultural revolution starts playing music loosely connected to the rock n' roll craze, contrastingly incorporating a critical and often offensive avant-garde edge. Nothing was off limits - screeching vocals, dark aesthetics, staccato-strummed banjo, sardonic lyricism, critiques of the Vietnam War and full monk costuming down to the tonsure. When viewed on the whole, it seems like an art school student's senior thesis on what the craze means and its future possibilities. Due in large part to original Polydor vinyl collectability and years in the word-of-mouth hype machine, their legend and cult status has steadily blossomed since their last shows in 1967.

Fast forward to 2017, the crew at Third Man, already huge fans, are presented with an honest-to God treasure trove of original Monks photos, newspaper clippings, business cards, letterhead, contracts, postcards and, yes, analog tapes, containing trailblazing, wild compositions completely unheard by public ears.

"I'm Watching You" would have been recorded on February 28th, 1967 at the same sessions that would produce the Monks' final single "Love Can Tame the Wild" b/w "He Went Down to the Sea." The remaining four songs were recorded after hours in the Top Ten Club later that year, just prior to the break-up of the band.

These songs have been unreleased for 50 years and are quite possibly the last music left to be heard by this legendary band.

Hamburg Recordings 1967 track list:

1. I'm Watching You
2. Julia
3. P.O. Box 3291
4. I Need U Shatzi
5. Yellow Grass

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Wednesday, 10 May 2017 19:31 (three years ago) link

Absolute capital C-classic! Thank whomevers responsible that the Beat Club footage of them is still around. They were a very charismatic and entertaining live act. And prolly thank my beloved Fall for helping repopularize them in the 90s. And that one album BMT is a stone avant garage groove from back to front. Addendum re: pic above, wow! Gonna have to get that. Thanx for the tip, NYCnative.

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 19:41 (three years ago) link


Mark G, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 22:43 (three years ago) link

thank the germans for not being the bbc! _all_ the beat club stuff still exists, afaik, including unbroadcast material.

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Wednesday, 10 May 2017 22:52 (three years ago) link

by the way, has anyone actually heard dave day's "don't ha ha" that he released as a 7" at some point?

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Wednesday, 10 May 2017 22:53 (three years ago) link

Was the Rollins reissue of Black Monk Time before the Fall cover?

Stevolende, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 22:56 (three years ago) link

nah, extricate was 1990, infinite zero issue was '97. apparently the first cd issue of it was an israeli pirate on israphon in 1990.

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Wednesday, 10 May 2017 22:58 (three years ago) link

I believe its a version of "Don't you just know it" with 'authentic' laughing in the chorus.

Mark G, Thursday, 11 May 2017 06:28 (three years ago) link


Trelayne Staley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 11 May 2017 15:19 (three years ago) link

Oh i see

Trelayne Staley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 11 May 2017 15:19 (three years ago) link

pretty psyched for this tbh. just curious about the cover art. i thought by these final sessions they had ditched the haircuts and uniform.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 11 May 2017 18:44 (three years ago) link

eight months pass...

Never knew about this Raincoats cover single until just now.

Some Dusty in Here (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 February 2018 21:50 (two years ago) link

Also can’t remember if I commented on this thread that Eddie seems to have been named after Lawrence of Arabia

Some Dusty in Here (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 February 2018 22:20 (two years ago) link

it's from the tribute album "silver monk time", has some good stuff on there including gary burger with faust (not sure which faust). there's also a nice live show from around that time (2006 or so) of the monks in berlin with the raincoats, the recently departed mark e. smith, etc., guesting.

Arnold Schoenberg Steals (rushomancy), Sunday, 4 February 2018 22:53 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

It’s BEAT time, it’s HOP time, it’s *BUMP* time!

Quit It And Hit It Sideways (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 8 September 2020 16:49 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

Just watched the doc with my mother- and sister-in-law. Both loved the band so much.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 04:48 (two weeks ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.