Let's Start A Beat!
A review by Alexander Schuth
from German music magazine superstar, issue
(c) 1996-2001 superstar. Translation (c)
Eddie Shaw 2001.
Monks. The hardest band in the world ever to get
on stage with a electrified banjo. Feed-back pioneers.
Ever heard of them? No?
take a look at page 18. Or go to page 45. Or go
back to the review section in superstar's
issue #17 (In German). Or read what Guz
(Swiss rock star) has to say in superstar #16
(in German and English) about the only album
the ex-GIs ever recorded: Black Monk Time (Polydor,
1966). Pretty THEN. Case closed. Right? Not quite.
1999 the Monks appeared for the first time since
the 60's - and it was the first time they ever appeared
in the USA. On this CD you will hear their appearance
at the Cavestomp!-festival.
sacrilege? Is a shrine of garage beat desecrated?
can see them play in the encluded Quicktime movie
that is on the CD. They look old. Heck - they ARE
old. But they don't sound old. Or rather, they sound
as bloody raw now as they did THEN, so old and world
weary and angry and young. No shit!
sound on this record is supposedly very close to
the live sound of old. I love the fat, leathery
sound of the drums (I want to express that he uses
much the leather pieces, nearly as if he hadn't
a single cymbal. ???), the chopping banjo, the bass,
- the underlying intellectually sharp revelation
of the lyrics - sometimes confusing, but always
meaningful. The garnish of the shattering organ
and destructive, feeding back guitar. [haha, here
we got a funny thing going on - I mean the lyrics
are simple, reduced to basics, nearly moronic. Nobody
ever dared to mention this anywhere in print before
besides some comments in your bio, or at least I've
never read anything on this. My case is: The Monks
lyrics in part are nearly moronic, but totally satisfying,
same as with the Ramones or Devo - bands with a
message like the Monks, but often moronic, farcical
lyrics, which still hit home BIG TIME. Hope you're
not offended with this comment, but hey, the Ramones
and Devo are two of my life top twenty bands, exactly
because of this recklessness... "We don't care
about what you expect, we're gonna goof of, and
those who dig it will understand" Like a silliness-encryption
that made access to the texts impossible for straight
johns, but told any fool and fan volumes. My humble
idea. I hope I'm not getting excommunicated for
such heresy... Following my suggestion for translation:
...banjo, the bass. Homing in way beneath any intellectual
PC-surveillance with lyrics that seem sometimes
strangely moronic, but are nevertheless absolutely
satisfying. The garnish of the shattering organ
and the brute force of the feeding back guitar.
realism comes courtesy of Gary Burger's voice, whose
bronchitis-punished vocal chords are helped valiantly
by band mambers and a fan (Mike Fornatale) who'd
been promoted to Son of Monk.
finally totally making me happy: The encore, where
they improvised the title song. Yes, Monks, I understood:
"Alway support live music!"
can find a most detailed discussion of this CD,
how it came to happen and the mixing on the Monks'
own website: www.the-monks.com, follow the link
to "Confessionals." Not long ago someone
on website asked about Wahwah-pedals, which Jimmy
Hendrix supposedly first saw used by the monks.
Only it wasn't a Vox wahwah as I had falsely reported
two issues ago. According to Gary Burger it was
a Fender footpedal with which he achieved wahwah-like
effects. Forgive me.
Start a Beart! sound still contemporary for me.
That still isn't from yesterday. It is not retro.
It still means something. It is TODAY.
superstar online at http://www.insound.com/zinestand/superstar