The Monks (No, not those Monks, the other Monks!)
The Monks were big in Canada, selling a shit-ton (they use the metric system over there, and “shit-ton” is Canadian for, well, lots and lots) of records in 1979 to a bunch of kids like me wanting to dip their toe into punk but still needing that ‘fun’ element that was so non-existent in a lot of early punk. Like The Ramones, but without the street cred. The primary players were former members of The Strawbs, an English folk/progressive band along the lines of the Moody Blues. Those of you who are of a certain ‘vintage’ may remember a short-lived Variety show called Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show? No? Well take a peek at this!
“There was a good reason for the band members not to foreground their image: Three out of the four were, in fact, former members of the progressive, psychedelic folk-rock band The Strawbs. As Ford recalls, over the phone from his Long Island home, the punk movement “was a breath of fresh air after the self-indulgence of progressive rock that I was part of.”
He and Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson wrote a punky song called Nice Legs, Shame About the Face (based on what Ford’s wife at the time would say when she suspected he was ogling women behind his dark glasses) and offered it to a young band whose management turned it down. But their own rough demo, with Hudson banging on a flight case, made its way to a French label that wanted to release it as is. The art department misheard Hudson and Ford’s chosen name for the project, The Mugs (slang for “the faces”), and The Monks were born.”
They wrote a clever little song called “Johnny B. Rotten”, a song that John Lydon apparently despised. Never mind those bollocks though, Bad Habits was and remains an important, albeit forgotten, power pop classic and is finally being recognized for the classic it always was. Some important Canadian Bands have even seen fit to organize a tribute album. Bands like Sloan, The New Pornographers and The Doughboys have all agreed to participate.
Bad Habits is one of those rare albums that you remember totally loving from your childhood that doesn’t age a day when you hear it again almost (gulp!) 35 years later. It still sounds great, funny and fresh as it always did. It took me forever to find a physical copy, and the price just seems to go up and up. It’s not one that you can get for a nickel, but keep an eye out; I got mine for less than a tenner.
They did, by the way, release a sequel to Bad Habits called Suspended Animation, but other than maybe 4 tracks (King Dong (better than the title suggests, but just as silly, too’), Don’t Want No Reds, Don’t Bother Me (’cause I’m a Christian), and I Can Do Anything You Like) it really paled by comparison. It was released only in Canada. Naturally.