Sunday, November 16, 2008

Keith Moon: Two Sides Of The Moon

Having finally driven away his wife and daughter, and bored out of his skull when the Who weren’t recording or touring, Keith Moon went off to LA to drink with Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, and anyone else who dared to keep up with them. And since everyone else was doing it, he recorded a solo album. The general consensus is that he shouldn’t have, really.
Every song on Two Sides Of The Moon is impeccably arranged to the quality control standards of the time, as would be expected from the same people who played on sessions for Ringo, Harry, and John. Familiar names like Jesse Ed Davis, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voormann, and Flo & Eddie are joined by Joe Walsh, John Sebastian, Dick Dale, and Suzi Quatro’s sister, who brought other members of the band Fanny.
But as much of his spotlight on “Bell Boy” would suggest, Keith couldn’t carry a tune no matter what brandy bottle he’d brought it in. The styles run from ‘50s and country to glam and schmaltz; depending on his mood, he either yells through the tracks or attempts to croon them. While the upbeat numbers may have some comedy value, the damage he inflicts on “Don’t Worry Baby”, “In My Life”, and even “The Kids Are Alright”—which sports the only thing resembling one of his inimitable drum breaks—is absolutely horrifying. Along with Ringo’s audible drunken encouragement throughout, Beatle fans might’ve been interested in “Move Over Ms. L” (recorded for Walls And Bridges but saved for a B-side) had not Keith’s delivery rendered the lyrics even more garbled than John’s.
The one saving grace of Two Sides Of The Moon is that it’s only half an hour long. It isn’t funny enough for a comedy album, and knowing what we do now about his personal life and demons, listening feels uncomfortably voyeuristic. The cleverest aspect of the package is the expensive cover art, based around a die-cut sleeve that takes the title literally.
The inevitable CD reissue added a couple of outtakes, the even more hideous falsetto single version of “Don’t Worry Baby”, and three songs intended for his next album, produced a year later by Steve Cropper, which was mercifully never completed. Amazingly, a double CD celebrating his 60th birthday filled the program with further outtakes from the sessions, such as a terrible version of the Knickerbockers’ “Lies”, a worse plow through “My Generation”, a thankfully shelved Christmas single, and even more examples of Keith and Ringo’s inebriated schtick. (It must be stated, however, that John Sebastian’s guide vocal for “Don’t Worry Baby is almost as bad as Keith’s.)

Keith Moon Two Sides Of The Moon (1975)—1
1997 CD reissue: same as 1975, plus 8 extra tracks
2006 Deluxe Edition: same as 1997, plus 32 extra tracks

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