The Monks

Let's Start a Beat!: Live from Cavestomp

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In November 1999, the Monks reunited to play their first shows in 32 years at the Cavestomp festivals in New York. (In fact, these were their first shows ever in the United States, although the band were comprised entirely of Americans.) Considering the long layoff, they were in pretty good shape, running their most of their repertoire with a decidedly un-mellow verve. And considering that they recorded just one album and a few non-LP singles and demos, of course, it wasn't that hard to run through most of that repertoire in a single gig. This disc has live versions of most of the songs from their 1966 Black Monk Time album and a few of those stray non-LP odds and ends, as well as a couple of jams. Non-Monk Mike Fornatale helped out a bit on backup vocals (and takes one lead, on "Boys Are Boys"), but otherwise it's the actual original quintet you hear here. The arrangements are fairly close to those heard on the original '60s cuts, but a little more straight-ahead rock in flavor, with some more space given to jams. So, is this as good as, or as sufficient a sampling of their limited oeuvre, as the original Black Monk Time record? No; as rock reunions go, that would be a downright singular achievement. It's a surprisingly respectable document, however.

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