Friday, 23 October 2015

Moon the Buffoon

Two Sides of the Moon, Keith Moon's 1975 solo album, has been described as "the most expensive karaoke album in history". It’s a horrible album made by an inspired drummer who – bizarrely – decided not to play drums (he jumps behind the kit on just three tracks) but to sing instead, even though Keith was not known for his vocal prowess. He had recorded a few lead vocals for The Who, most notably Bucket T (from the Ready Steady Who EP) and Bellboy from Quadrophenia (he would go on to sing Fiddle About on 1975’s Tommy soundtrack; the original 1969 version was sung by the song’s author, John Entwistle), and had recently appeared on the misfiring Beatles tribute All This And World War II singing When I’m 64, but the man known as Moon The Loon would cheerfully - and honestly - admit that he was completely tone deaf.

Inspired by the fact that all of the other members of the Who had been indulging in solo projects (with distinctly different levels of success), Two Sides of the Moon should have been Keith’s moment to shine. However even bringing in a bunch of his superstar friends - including Spencer Davis, Bobby Keys, Rick Nelson, Harry Nilsson, John Sebastian, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh and Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan from the Turtles/the Mothers of Invention) failed to raise the LA recording sessions above carnage, and the resulting album is a travesty. The bastard cousin of other mid-70’s studio excesses – Nilsson’s Pussycats, the Lennon/Spector sessions that resulted in Roots/Rock ‘n’ Roll and the bloated, brandy and cocaine-fuelled Goodnight Vienna sessions - Two Sides of the Moon shines as a beacon of the unrestrained generosity of the music industry. Who today would fork out $200,000 (well over $1million today) for such an exercise in vanity?

Preceded by a single, a cover of the Beach Boys’ Don't Worry Baby (re-recorded for the album with Keith singing in a lower register: both versions are horrible), the album consists of cover versions – he revisits the Who's The Kids Are Alright, massacres the Beatles' In My Life " beyond all recognition – and new material provided by his pals, including Ringo (who ‘duets’ with Keith on Together), Harry Nilsson and John Lennon, who provided Move Over Ms L. Lennon would later re-record the track as the B-side to his hit cover of Stand By Me.

One school of though has it that Two Sides of the Moon was supposed to be messy: how can anyone take this seriously? The reversible inner cover for the LP, which shows Keith’s naked bottom doing a ‘moonie’ out of his car window, should have been sign enough that this project was meant to be a joke. Why then did he begin sessions for a follow up, shelved after the appalling sales of Two Sides of the Moon?

Recent reissues have added a slew of bonus cuts, including tracks recorded for the aborted second solo album. Would it have been any better? We’ll never know. Moon died three years after this sole solo project came out.

So, to save you the pain of having to listen to the entire album, here are three wholly representative cuts from Two Sides of the Moon, the aforementioned Don't Worry Baby, In My Life and Together.


1 comment:

  1. 10/23/15 wrote:
    And to think that i once passed up this monstrosity in an antique store in the town of Holly ,Michigan offering this LP for only $1.00! I don't think i missed out on anything important that day. Even Ringo can sing a little better than Keith, and that's no compliment!


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