Monks were not your typical 1960s pop band. First, they were based in Germany. A group of American GIs were based there and decided to start a little rock band.
Second, they really took the concept of “weird hair” to new levels. I mean, look at this:
They also liked to dress up in robes.
BUT DON’T LET THAT PUT YOU OFF. These guys were punk before punk was even punk. Their “non-conformist” dress-sense often outraged those conservative folk who thought they were being blasphemous and corrupting the children. So we’re off to a good start.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve been looking forward to listening to this since we started. I HAVE HIGH HOPES – even though they look like massive creepers.
NK: I have never heard of the Monks. I don’t know anything about them at all. Bring it on.
CL: YAAAAAAAAAAS THIS IS DEFINITELY MORE LIKE IT. Tunes left right and centre. Shit me. First 30 seconds is like something 20 years ahead of 1966. It’s INSANE. ‘Monk Time’ is so bloody good. It’s seriously difficult for me to pick just one standout. Oh, ‘Hate You’ is such a banger. ‘Love Came Tumbling Down’!!! BUT THEY ARE ALL EXCELLENT, FAST-PACED AND WEIRD.
NK: This is not at all what I was expecting. This is punk, essentially. In 1966 somehow. I didn’t see that coming. I like a few songs here; ‘Monk Time’ is pretty great as a statement of intent, ‘Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice’ sounds like it could have been recorded thirty years later, ‘Drunken Maria’ is a weird show-off jam, and ‘We do Wie Du’ seems to have provided a melody for Salt-N-Pepa several years later. I wonder if they ever went to court.
CL: Ugh. Don’t bring Salt-N-Pepa into this. Don’t sully the good name of Monks please.
NK: THEY STOLE THE MELODY! Just listen! My favourite is ‘Drunken Maria’, because it’s super weird and simple and the organ is off the hook.
CL: I’d also just like to point out that there is a fair bit of organ in here – and despite my previous aversion to organ, I BLOODY LOVE IT.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: WHEN IT’S MONK TIME. When is Monk Time? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Literally any time is appropriate for this. If you want to hear where bands like DEVO, Wire and The Hives got their influence from, give them a cheeky listen. You know what? This is what I thought The Sonics would sound like. This is waaaaaaaaay more interesting and garage than that album.
NK: I can’t get over how much this sounds like the bands that came after it. This is the perfect album to discover in high school when you’re going through your punk phase. When everyone is trying to one-up each other with obscure bands.
CL: I still do this.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: Oh, man – in 1966 this would have just blown people’s heads off (like it just blew mine off FIFTY YEARS LATER). Even in 1979 this would’ve been cutting edge. This has so clearly paved the way for the punk, post-punk and new wave scenes – WHICH IS SO MY JAMS. Maybe that’s why I’m a little biased. I mean, just look at their album cover. SO MINIMAL. This was very odd for the time.
NK: This is the opposite of jazz. In jazz everyone is playing their own lead stuff over the top of each other. This sounds like everybody wanted to play rhythm. It’s really strange. There are some melodies here, but everything is about the beat. This is really odd. Also the instrumentation just sounds like punk. The distortion on the guitar and organ, the sheer aggressiveness of it all. This is very in your face. If you want an alternative to the Beatles and their mates, it’s hard to go past this.
CL: They definitely had an influence on punk, but I’d say they were also pretty early pioneers of krautrock – there’s a bunch of albums coming up in the late 70s that fall into that category, so GET EXCITED FOR THAT because I certainly am.
Will you be listening again?
CL: YES YES YES YES YES. God yes. Out of the 65 albums we’ve heard this has been my favourite. Calling it now.
NK: BIG CALL. Also I reckon I’ll be listening again. This is the most surprised I’ve been by an album so far.