Before he became Patti Smith’s bass player, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years from 1965-1968, and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.
Track 103: Complication by The Monks
Release Date: 1966
From: Gelnhausen, West Germany
Aphoristical Rating: 9/10
Like The Sonics last week, The Monks are another band that clearly influenced punk and alternative music – the Dead Kennedys, The Fall, Pere Ubu and the Beastie Boys have all acknowledged them. Where The Sonics were a tight R&B band with some rough edges, The Monks were altogether more frightening and intense. Gary Burger’s vocals feel disembodied, even sweetened by backing harmonies, while the band is pounding and austere. They look even more intense in person, with their hair shaved into monk-style tonsures:
The Monks were formed by a bunch of G.I.s in Germany – while serving in Germany interrupted Elvis Presley’s career, it did launch The Monks. They released the single ‘There She Walks’ as The Torquays, before changing their name to The Monks. They released one highly regarded album, Black Monk Time, in 1966. The band didn’t last long after their first album – faced with a dwindling audience, their management tried to soften their rough edges, asking them to model their new material on The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’. The new singles ‘Cuckoo’ and ‘Love Can Tame the Wild’ failed, and the band split after abandoning a 1967 tour to Vietnam (!) at the last minute.
The original lineup reformed in 1999 to headline the 1960s garage rock event Cavestomp in New York – the first time they’d played in their home country. They officially disbanded in 2007. Burger became the mayor of Turtle River, Minnesota, before passing away in 2014,