Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Monks

Dave Day, singer and banjo player with the remarkable Monks, just passed away. RIP. This was written for the London Lite when the group played the Dirty Water Club last year. What a night...

THE MONKS are like The Velvet Underground of the garage-rock scene – few bought their sole album, Black Monk Time, on its release in 1966, but the group have since become an influential rock’n’roll cult. American GIs stationed in Germany, the Monks infamously shaved their crowns and wore only black onstage, but it was the primal invention and off-kilter psychotic quality of their music, echoing the violence of Vietnam and the tumult of the 1960s, that ultimately won them subterranean fame.

Tonight, four decades after they split, they played their first-ever London date – one of only a handful of shows they’ve played since reuniting in 1999 (sans deceased drummer Roger Johnston and retired organist Larry Clark). Their pates naturally bald nowadays, The Monks still played with the gleeful derangement of yore, their sound a hybrid of frenzied skiffle and frenetic r’n’b that indulged heavily of rumbling drums, piercing feedback and Dave Day’s rattling electric banjo.

Their songs remained as gloriously, electrifyingly odd as before, from incessantly catchy rave-ups like ‘Oh, How To Do Now’ to an unhinged ‘Shut Up’, its call-and-response chorus chanted by an audience young enough to be the Monks’ children, who discovered the group via namechecks from fans like Jack White. Moved by the response, frontman Gary Burger promised a return to these shores next year. An official documentary, The Transatlantic Feedback, is set for release next year, but tonight proved The Monks are no mere museum pieces. No, they’re still crazy, after all these years, and long may they rage.

(c) 2007 Stevie Chick

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Best gig of 2006, without a doubt. And I've not seen anything since then that's moved me so much in every way.

God bless the Dirty Water Club!