Thursday, June 11, 2009

"monks: the transatlantic feedback" documentary review

"monks: the transatlantic feedback" is a recent, but obscure documentary, of an even more obscure short-live mid-1960's band, "the monks." it had a short release late last fall, which i was unable to catch. but in march a dvd of this 2006 german documentary was released and now it's a click away via netflixs. if you're into rock history, punk rock, garage bands, alternative music, the 1960's, and way too much more to list... check this one out.

for 30 years "the monks" were all but forgotten. a group of 5 ex-army soldiers who arrived in germany as enlisted men in 1961, came together as a cover band, the "five torquays," and then became the avante-garde "monks" after they left the service. the monks were billed as the "anti-beatles" and were essentially proto-punk band - with both lyrics and sound far ahead of the times. they played together for only a couple of years before they returned home to ordinary lives in 1967.

the documentary is ostensibly in german, with english subtitles. but the extensive interviews with the 5 band members are all conducted in english (with german subtitles). the filmmakers make extensive use of archival photos (both of the band - and the times, including elvis kicking off his service, kennedy in berlin, and the kennedy assassination) and videos. the present day interviews were inter cut with the archival footage for an almost running commentary.

the band and its incredible story was pulled out of the dust-bin of rock history by the incredible research efforts of the filmmakers. then, in connection with assembling the documentary, fast-forward thirty-two years later, and in 1999 the former band members were brought back together for a reunion in new york. a bit older and rustier, they even performed a couple of concerts. some band members even sported shaved heads - tonsure style - to recapture the original vibe. check them out in their prime:

their lyrics - in contrast to the beatles' "i want to hold your hand" and other pop bands - included lines like this: "i hate you with a passion, baby, but call me!"

make time to watch this fantastic time capsule!

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