Five Upstart Americans
"When you play six hours every night and eight on Sundays, you do learn things. In fact, Larry remembers it was the year that Dave had an epiphany that caused him to proclaim, `I've found that the best thing to do when singing is to sing in key.' Gary came forth with a canon even more profound: `If it isn't there, it's probably gone.' It was a year of discovery for all of us."
"We didn't do the Monk music for Americans. We did it for the Germans. It was not our fault that some Americans liked us.
-- Monks Eddie and Gary, respectively, quoted in the liner notes from Five Upstart Americans
Before punk, there was monk.
The Sonics were super, but The Monks were supersonic.
Monk Eddie explains the Monk approach:
"Gary and Dave had some basic songs; they'd written all of them up to that point. Then everyone got in and we said, `OK, what do we don't like?'
We broke the songs down. Like, `Boys are boys, girls are joys, da-da-da-da...' There's four verses, you start taking words out. OK, `Boys are boys, girls are joys' -- we're not saying anything more than that, so we just leave the rest of the words out."
"What do we don't like?" Does it get any more punk than that?
Contrary to the majority of the minority (which is to say, people who listen to Monk music), I would say that the demo Five Upstart Americans is much superior to the later Black Monk Time. (Pixies fans who love the Fort Apache demos would probably concur.)
Whichever CD you buy (if you're goofed enough not to buy both), the sort of person who prefers the early, bassless Cramps will appreciate the relatively cymbal-less Monks. Monk Dave makes the best use of the banjo since Homer & Jethro, and Monk Larry's organ -- well, one either loves the organ or one doesn't. I do. If you do, then wie du, and that's one of the strongest reasons for preferring Five Upstart Americans to Black Monk Time: the tone-setting organ prelude before each song.
For the Monks story -- there had to be a story -- you can read Monk Eddie's account.
[Note: There was another band called The Monks, a UK outfit whose CD has pretty much one cut worth keeping. Great song, though: "Nice Legs, Shame About Her Face."]
See also: Battle of the Bands -- Monks vs. Shaggs