The Monks – a strange, rare group with a story that sounds like a drunk friend’s generous hyperbole. A group of American G.I.s stationed in Germany on the precipice of Western cultural revolution starts playing music loosely connected to the rock n’ roll craze, contrastingly incorporating a critical and often offensive avant-garde edge. Nothing was off limits — screeching vocals, dark aesthetics, staccato-strummed banjo, sardonic lyricism, critiques of the Vietnam War and full monk costuming down to the tonsure. When viewed on the whole, it seems like an art school student’s senior thesis on what the craze means and its future possibilities. Due in large part to original Polydor vinyl collectability and years in the word-of-mouth hype machine, their legend and cult status has steadily blossomed since their last shows in 1967.
Fast forward to 2017, the crew at Third Man, already huge fans, are presented with an honest-to-God treasure trove of original Monks photos, newspaper clippings, business cards, letterhead, contracts, postcards and, yes, analog tapes, containing trailblazing, wild compositions completely unheard by public ears.