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(TV) Monks

all you would care to know:



One of the strangest stories in rock history, the Monks were formed in the early '60s by American
 G.I.'s stationed in Germany. After their discharge, the group stayed on in Germany as the Torquays,
 a fairly standard "beat" band. After changing their name to the Monks in the mid-'60s, they also
 changed their music, attitude, and appearance radically. Gone were standard oldie covers, replaced
 by furious, minimalistic original material that anticipated the blunt, harsh commentary of the punk era.
 Their insistent rhythms recalled martial beats and polkas as much as garage rock, and the weirdness
 quotient was heightened by electric banjo, berserk organ runs, and occasional bursts of feedback
 guitar. To prove that they meant business, the Monks shaved the top of their heads and performed
 their songs -- crude diatribes about the Vietnam war, dehumanized society, and love/hate affairs with
 girls -- in actual monks' clothing.

 This was pretty strong stuff for 1966 Germany, and their shocking repertoire and attire were
 received with more confusion than hostility or warm praise. Well-known in Germany as a live act,
 their sole album and several singles didn't take off in a big way, and were never released in the U.S.,
 it was rumored, because the lyrical content was deemed too shocking. They disbanded in confusion
 around 1967, but their album -- one of the most oddball constructions in all of rock -- gained a
 hardcore cult following among collectors, and has ironically made them much more popular and
 influential on an international level than they were during their lifetime. Bassist Eddie Shaw's 1994
 autobiography, Black Monk Time, is a fascinating narrative of the Monks' stranger-than-fiction
 story. -- Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
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