Monks (us) - Black Monk Time
However, you should not always take notice of what people say. For a start, you will be led to believe that this album represents the earliest starting point of what has been termed proto-punk. This gives you the impression you are in for crashing guitar chords and screaming vocals. Well, you are not. The guitar here is used principally for backing and rhythm. Occasionally, you can detect the rather innovative use of guitar feedback (but why is it then that you never hear the Monks described as proto-shoegaze). In common with many sixties outfits, it is the organ which provides many of the solo moments, together with a very occasional look in from an electric banjo.
Generally, the music is rooted in its era. The opening track, "Monk Time", is anti-Vietnam war - and who didn't do one of those songs? The band make use of the prevalent mid-sixties male vocal harmonies while the drumming rarely rises above what might be called pedestrian. Most of the vocals do not seem to make much sense and words often seem to be chosen for the sound rather than the sense they make. As a protest song therefore, it falls rather flat. But as a song which marks out a style the band will follow, it typifies what the Monks are all about.
So, before you think this album is not worth the effort, give it a listen and listen again - repeatedly if you have to. Music is meant to be enjoyed, and these guys certainly seemed to enjoy making this. Some of the songs are little more than chants made by a bunch of guys having a good time - "Higgle-Dy Piggle-Dy" is a classic case in point. And I defy anyone, after a few listens, not to find themselves occasionally singing:
"Drunken Maria - don't sleep/ Sleepy Maria - don't drink"
Ok, at times it can get a bit wearing - "Cuckoo" is a case in point - but this album is worth listening to for the fact it will bring a smile to your face. This is music made for people who want to have a good time rather than sitting and listening to some instrumental "wizard" droning on and on with some boring solo which serves the sole purpose of showing off how good he is at performing droning, boring solos. The limitations of the sixties in terms of instruments and production quality apart, this is how much more music should sound. Proto-punk or not, this was different in its time and is still something rather unique today.
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