The Monks: Black Monk Time

Music Reviews
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The Monks: <em>Black Monk Time</em>

It’s beat time, it’s hop time, it’s Monk time!

The Monks were five American soldiers stationed in Germany during the early 1960s who formed a band to pass the time. Their sole album, released in 1966 after they were discharged, is a doozy: eleven songs of brash grooves and unearthly garage rock that show no signs of hobby or pastime. The Monks devoted themselves fully to their musical—rather than military—enterprise, even shaving Franciscan bald patches into their hair. Their infamous debut, Black Monk Time, has long been a collector’s item, and Light in the Attic has put the album back in print, with bonus tracks culled from the even rarer Early Years 1964-65 comp. In the ensuing four decades, these songs haven’t aged a bit: “Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice” and “I Hate You” remain as unruly, ferocious, lusty and hilarious as ever. The Monks were all rhythm section, with every instrument clicking into a tense lockstep punctuated by Gary Burger’s wild-man yelps and Dave Day’s electrified banjo—an instrument as distinct as the Thirteenth Floor Elevators’ electric jug. In their lusty frivolity, The Monks find a measure of gravity and outrage: On opener “Monk Time,” Burger leers at Pussy Galore one moment and protests Vietnam the next. That war may be over, but it’s still Monk time.