The Torquays were formed in 1964 in Germany by five American GIs based over there. They were really your typical bog standard Beat covers act, which most average bands of that period were.
But in 1966 they emerged, no longer in the army, with new monk style bald patches on their heads, all black clothing, a new name and a totally new and unique style all of their own; The Monks were born, with a live act and a sound quite simply in a league of its own.
Their only album, Black Monk Time, was released in 1966 on Polydor after being recorded in the dark nights of November 1965. To say this band and their one and only studio album release were unique, is literally an understatement, with the impact of it still not being fully appreciated by the general public.
This album release as with so many great cult records was a commercial flop, having mixed and patchy success in Germany, but not even registering a murmur in the US or Britain. But as with all great cult records; it will find a way of getting into your life somehow and thank the maker this has got into mine.
The album begins with Monk Time; highlights of this song include the marvellous vocals of Gary Burger and the lyrics which have to be read to fully appreciate what a stunning opener it is....
"Alright, my name's Gary.
Let's go, it's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time now!
You know we don't like the army.
Who cares what army?
Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?
Mad Viet Cong.
My brother died in Vietnam!
James Bond, who was he?
Stop it, stop it, I don't like it!
It's too loud for my ears.
Pussy Galore's comin' down and we like it.
We don't like the atomic bomb.
Stop it, stop it, I don't like it . . . stop it!
What's your meaning Larry?
Ahh, you think like I think!
You're a monk, I'm a monk, we're all monks!
Dave, Larry, Eddie, Roger, everybody, let's go!
It's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time now!"
This triumphant opener is followed up with the fabulously named Shut-Up, with its fantastic use of the organ and the almost football terrace rhythm it has to it. This is followed by Boys are Boys and Girls are Choice, which is one of those songs at just over a minute that is very much short and sweet.
Further down the track list is track 5, I Hate You, which is yet another showcase for the marvellous wailing vocals of Gary Burger, as well as demonstrating the sheer ahead of its time nature of The Monks musical output, I really do struggle to believe this song was recorded in 1965.
The same can be said for track 6; Oh, How To Do Now sounds so far beyond the pale and quite clearly influential to later artists, that when it comes to groundbreaking, I'm surprised anyone even bothers mention Revolver anymore as 1966's finest. You might think that I am just saying that for effect, but seriously, this album is a real surprise.
In subsequent years, this album has been reissued with some extra gems which oddly did not make the final cut; these include the brilliant Cuckoo, Love Can Tame The Wild and Monk Chant......marvellous.
Black Monk Time is an album filled with rhythm, angst and an anger, yet is all wrapped up in a quirky, raw, but catchy package which is rather appealing on the ears. This is punk music in its earliest form, but punk music with an electronic banjo, an organ and a beyond eccentric sound which makes you warm to this band and their music instantly.
An absolutely quality piece of work and an eye opener to anyone who believes that The Beatles' Revolver album was the only landmark album to come out of 1966. A Must