Five Upstart Americans
Black Monk Time by the Monks is one of those rarely heard, oft-mentioned landmarks of sixties rock. Recorded by five ex-GI’s living in Germany in 1966, the record sounds like nothing else ever recorded. The manic electric banjo of Dave Day sounds like a madman beating on the manhole cover to Hades. It compliments Gary Burger’s vocals perfectly — a voice never equaled in music since. Of course, like all great things, the only album by the five tonsure-wearing goofballs slipped completely under the popular radar screen, never even released in America until years later. ‘Tis a pity. The record is truly unlike anything else you’ll ever hear. Punk before the word was cool, psychedelic without being stoned, it is one of the lost classics of rock and roll. Pick up the import of the CD.
While you’re at it, get Five Upstart Americans , which is made up of studio sessions recorded about a year before Black Monk Time . While not as arresting as BMT , the trademarks are here. Larry Clark plays keyboards like a church organist drunk on communal wine, introducing each song with Bach-like strains of gothic rumbling. Also featured are two singles from the band’s previous incarnation, the Torquays. While sounding like typical Sixties pop-rock, the songs still hold a certain something, a certain… Monk-ness that hints at the mystery to come. From “I Hate You… But Call Me” to “Oh How to Do Now,” the Monks created a sound so unique, so true, that time can’t diminish it. Bow down to the Monks.