Music in Black &
Year of the Monks
the recording sessions finished, the group returned
to the touring treadmill. They were elated at the
prospect of their album being released. The Monks
played with unparalleled ferocity, stalking the stage
like five exterminating angels whilst laying down
carpets of aural napalm.
of the original songs they performed live didnt
make it onto the album. Fortunately, it appears as
one of the bonus tracks on the CD reissue, obtained
from a German television appearance. "Monk Chant"
is just what the name suggests. The Yardbirds had
already laid down a song with Gregorian chants in
mid-65 entitled "Still Im Sad."
Of course, that famed quintet usually did everything
first. The Yardbirds take on vespers was very,
well, monkish, like frost on stained glass. On the
fade, someone even whispers "amen."
would never do for the Monks, though. Johnstons
drumming is blood curdling, tapping horrible memories
from Jungs collective unconscious. The Monks
moan eerily, raising hackles on the neck. Burger mutters
incantations, calling on some forgotten god. Visions
of human sacrifice abound. Vestal virgins struggle
and scream in the hands of pagan priests. Burger sets
his talismanic guitar on the floor, where it commences
to issue unholy feedback. Clark and Day join him,
tapping on the frets to obtain the horrific sounds
of arterial fluid flowing. Actually, its more
like a gang rape. Then, theres warm and dark
visions of a knife raised as Johnstons drums
thud like a heart in a seers hand.
they opened for more chart-oriented British groups
such as the Creation, at that time riding the German
charts with "Painter Man."
singer painted a canvas, which he destroyed. And I
remember the guitar player using a violin bow, but
we just thought So, thats their shtick.
Everybody seemed to be trying out some gimmick to
be different," Eddie Shaw said.
Day also remembered playing with the Troggs, commenting
specifically on their lead vocalist, Reg Presley.
had that hit, you know Wild Thing. The
singer sounds so sexy on it," Day said. "But
he didnt have any stage presence. He stood there
like a wet mop."
Englishmen were totally unprepared for the pyrotechnics
the Monks displayed. The Americans act had been
forged in sweaty dives throughout Germany, often six
to eight hours a day every night. Consequently, they
demonstrated more chops and integration, blowing the
Brits out the door.
English bands thought they were big time. Until they
heard us play," Day added.
one show, they played with the Kinks, a band that
at one time had been particular favorites of the ex-GIs.
Larry Clark even used to sing the Kinks second
hit, "All Day and All of the Night" at gigs.
Unfortunately, the Americans admiration for
the Brits was soon to sour slightly.
flared backstage between Dave Day and the English
groups lead guitar player, Dave Davies. A fan
had fought her way through security, hoping to secure
a signature from her idols. The Kinks Davies
abused her verbally and she broke into tears. The
Monks Day consoled the fan, giving her an autographed
photo of his band. She brightened and bustled away.
Then, Day turned on the Kink.
told him he should treat his fans better. After all,
theyre the ones responsible for making a band
successful" Dave Day recalled.
Davies told the Yank to piss off. Its quite
telling that in his autobiography, "Kink,"
Davies makes short shrift of the Monks. He quickly
mentions their stage persona, dismissing them as "silly."
He never mentions the Monks music or his altercation
Johnston was nowhere near as diplomatic as his bandmate.
Kinks drummer (Mick Avory) and bass player (Peter
Quaife) were nice guys," Johnston recalled. "But
the Davies brothers (Ray and Dave) were arrogant pricks."
this point, "Black Monk Time" had been released,
as was a first single, "Complication." Critical
reaction appeared favorable. European magazines compared
their album to LPs by the Cream and the Lovin
Spoonful. Despite the non-stop touring, these laudatory
raves buoyed the bands morale to a certain degree.
The Monks notoriety didnt translate into
chart action, however. Sales proved minimal. Consequently,
the riches werent pouring in as they had envisioned.
Their first royalty checks worked out to about ten
dollars per person.
night the group played a show with the legendary Bill
Haley and his band, the Comets. Dave Day, a rock n
roll fanatic since the genres inception, shyly
introduced himself to the man..
was wonderful. He was a little puzzled by what we
were doing," Day said. "But he said it was
Haley seemed slightly amused
at the younger mans stage persona. A picture
was taken of him with Dave Day. Theres a noticeable
difference between Haleys trademark spit-curl
and the Monks gleaming pate.
Hendrix, then an obscure American performer based
in London, was touring Germany with his English group,
the Experience. Eddie Shaw noticed the black guitarists
melancholy diffidence. Hendrix, however, spent an
unusual amount of time watching Gary Burger.
checked out how Gary used feedback. Hendrix and Gary
used it differently. He also asked questions about
Garys wah-wah," Dave Day said.
that particular pedal was a relatively new effect
at the time. Hendrix was soon to make it part of his
aural arsenal. Hendrix also mentioned that the Monks
music was unlike anything hed ever heard. Shaw
ruefully noted that this was not necessarily a compliment.
theyd seen everything under the rock n roll
sun, the Monks were impressed by Hendrix, nonetheless.
was one of the greatest showmen Ive ever seen,"
Larry Clark said admiringly.
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