A vintage print ad for Keith Moon’s 1975 solo record, ‘Two Sides of the Moon’ that I’m guessing the Mighty Boosh have seen?
Today’s post is an amusing historical account of what happened when a record company (in this case MCA) decided it was a good idea to give admitted tone deaf drummer Keith Moon $200 grand to make his very first (and last) solo album, Two Sides of the Moon, back in the mid-70s.
As the story goes Moon assembled a powerful gang of musical accomplices including Spencer Davis, surf-guitar master Dick Dale, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh among others to play on Two Sides. The album also included cover versions of songs written by members of The Beatles, Nilsson, as well a song penned by Moonie’s buddy Pete Townshend, the anthemic jam “The Kids are Alright.” How could this heady concoction be considered anything less than a total slam-dunk? Not just for Moon but also for The Who and their legions of fans? Well, if you know anything about Keith Moon then the answer to that question is quite simple: Keith Moon liked to party. A lot. And so did Keith Moon’s friends. A lot. And that pretty much sums up the record for the most part.
Many of the songs on the album really feel like a recording session held during happy hour—which I’m pretty sure most recording sessions that occurred during the 70s were. I mean Black Sabbath hoovered $75,000 up their noses recording Vol. 4 in 1972 so there’s that. At any rate, Moon’s musical happy hour was full of talented booze-swilling rock stars armed with microphones and instruments. Which while that sounds like guaranteed good times, it didn’t necessarily translate to Two Sides actually sounding good. It’s also important to note that Moon only slugged away on his famous kit for three of the album’s ten songs and much preferred to sing. A term that should be used somewhat loosely as it pertains to Keith’s vocals on Two Sides of the Moon. It is rumored that when Beach Boy Brian Wilson heard Moon’s cover of the song he wrote with LA DJ Roger Christian, “Don’t Worry Baby,” he burst into tears. Now that’s just plain sad.
The cheeky back cover of Keith Moon’s solo record, ‘Two Sides of the Moon.’
While it’s easy to tear down Moon’s Two Sides for many reasons, it is not without its endearing qualities. Such as Moon’s cover of “In My Life” the 1965 heart-string tugging Beatles’ song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. “Solid Gold” written by Nickey Barclay of Fanny is also a highlight as it includes the sparkly sounds of coveted backup vocalist Sherlie Matthews. I also can’t hate on Moon’s version of “The Kids Are Alright” even though it sounds like it was recorded in a garage by a bunch of high school-aged rockers who were gonna “make it” someday.
As you might imagine the story behind the record is full of rock ‘n’ roll folklore such as the rumor that David Bowie provided backing vocals on the album. (For the record, he probably didn’t and Bowie isn’t credited on Two Sides either.) In 2008, Moon’s solo swan song was again reissued by Castle to include an indulgent number of recordings, 51 in all, including hilarious outtakes like Mr. Moon blathering about Judy Garland and ranting that MCA Records needs to give him more money.
I’ve included a few songs from the album below for you to ponder as loudly as possible below as well as footage of Moon in action behind the microphone.
The front cover of ‘Two Sides of the Moon.’
A curious promotional photo of Keith Moon in a dress for ‘Two Sides of the Moon.’
Keith Moon’s cover of “The Kids are Alright.”
“In My Life.”
Live footage of Keith Moon in the studio recording “Do Me Good.” This was originally filmed for Tony Palmer’s documentary series ‘All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘I’m A Boy’: The many fantastic times Keith Moon dressed up in full-on drag back in the 1970s
Footage of Keith Moon crashing a Led Zeppelin gig then jamming with the band in 1977
Who are You??? That time Keith Moon OD’d onstage and was replaced by a member of the audience