It's Monk Time

Dave Day, the banjo player from the Monks, died the other day. That's him on the far right.

Over forty years ago, some American GIs stationed in Germany decided to form a band after getting out of the army. They got cowls, wore nooses around their necks, and shaved their hair into monk tonsures. The Monks played weird, distorted, rhythmic, sarcastic sing-along music, and released one album, Black Monk Time, in 1965.

I first heard this band when I was 19 or so and my friend Jackie loaned me a CD of their stuff (which I lost like a jerk—sorry about that, Jackie). I liked them immediately—it's hard not to. They're like some wondrous mythical animal that has the science community scratching their heads, while cryptozoologists hammer away at keyboards, trying to concoct a thesis that will convince the world at large that this impossible creature actually exists.

I don't have any fascinating insights to offer about the Monks; I just think they were light years ahead of their time, and I'm sorry Dave Day is dead.

Thanks to magic of the internets, the existing footage of the Monks, originally broadcast on German TV, is available for anyone to see. Way back when I first heard this band, I never could have dreamed that I'd ever actually get to see a recording of them. They are hilarious: let's watch some television.

This clip contains Monk Chant and How to Do Now. Check out the guitar abuse in the former and the Dave Day's psychotic banjo wrangling in the later.

Boys are Boys. Dance to it, you Germans!

Here is Complication, probably my favorite Monks tune. It was compiled on the famous Nuggets comp, and woulda been a big hit if there was any justice in this world.

The Monks reunited in 1999 for Cavestomp, and then stayed quiet for a while. A book was written on them, a tribute album was recorded, and a documentary, Trans-Atlantic Feedback, was made. So forty years after Black Monk Time was released, they were persuaded to play some shows. Here they are, after all that time, still bringing it.

This song is called Higgle-dy Piggle-dy. Click here to see Mark E. Smith stagger out onto stage with the Monks while they play this song at another date. He does a funny little dance and then abruptly leaves.

Black Monk Time.

Rest in Peace, Dave.

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