1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear – The Daft Side Of The Moon

1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#51: Keith Moon – Two Sides Of The Moon (1975)

The Who drummer Moon’s solo album should have been a good chance to bang his drums, writes MATT KELLY. Instead, it’s a drunken shambles.

Ah to be a young drumming fan in the record store in 1975. Browsing through the new releases you see – can it be? – yes! A Keith Moon solo album! You brush aside a copy of Tony Williams’ Believe It and scoop up Two Sides Of The Moon. Now, this is where it will be at – forget John Bonham, forget Billy Cobham, here comes a full disc of Keith Moon THUNDER without any singing or goofy old songs in the way. You just can’t wait to hear those solos – will he be in runaway train elephant stampede mode or he will he show off his technical side and separate the triple ratamacues from the flam paradiddle diddles?


When you get home and open it up to find the inner cover is Keith Moon showing you his ass, you may start to suspect you have been trolled.

Because this is a troll album. If you like to listen to a bunch of famous people fucking about this is the album for you. John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Joe Walsh, Jim Keltner, Dick Dale, Spencer Davis, Bobby Keys, The Turtles, Fanny, John Sebastian – they’re all on board to cheerfully waste their talents.

The album is essentially a continuation of a huge drunken party in LA that congealed around the recording of Nilsson’s Pussy Cat and Lennon’s Rock And Roll. Moon was having such fun that when Nilsson and Lennon concluded he thought he’d make his own record so the good times would keep rolling. But recording was difficult as intoxication and sleeplessness combined to make sessions erratic, to say the least.

Even Moon felt it had gotten out of hand and fired producer Mal Evans for his inability to stay sober, but then replaced him with Skip Taylor because he was good at supplying drugs, so there’s some inconsistency there.

There are accounts of Moon smashing studio equipment, threatening people with violence and sinking into depression over unfavourable reactions to his singing. (He originally sang a bunch of country songs but was pressured into dumping them when Taylor said he sounded awful. If you’re curious, there’s a deluxe reissue of TSOTM which unearths over an hour of discarded material and heavily features a drunken Ringo Starr talking through songs.)

Moon’s reasoning for not drumming is actually pretty understandable – drumming was his day job – but that won’t change the fact that audiences will want to hear him drum, not sing. Nine years earlier when he sang ‘I Need You’ he sounded alright but time had not been kind to Moon – in the Tommy film he is 29 but looks at least 39 – and his voice had weathered poorly.


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He’s particularly bad on a cover of The Beach Boys’ ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ with a flat, melody-allergic performance not good enough for karaoke let alone a studio album. By contrast, his take on The Who’s own ‘The Kids Are Alright’ sees him at least striving to hit notes, though not necessarily notes in the same key as the music. He is suspiciously low in the mix, at times fighting with the rhythm guitar – one suspects this is a deliberate attempt to hide his flaws. It’s been suggested that Moon was being “deliberately bad’ and at times it sounds like that, but he was apparently quite wounded by criticism of his singing, so he may have been sincere.

There is some silly fun on offer. ‘Crazy Like A Fox’ is not sung well but Moon’s capering charisma makes it likeable anyway, and the tongue-in-cheek old-time rock ‘n’ roll of Lennon’s ‘Move Over Ms L’ may raise a smile. The one song that survived the country cull (‘One Night Stand’) is probably his best performance – resisting his tendency to ham it up, ‘One Night Stand’ sees Moon in a chill, naturalistic mode and with some lovely pedal steel behind him.

Yet the vast majority of the record suffers either from offensively poor vocals (a sacrilegious version of ‘In My Life’) or self-indulgent dicking about where the only people amused are the people on the record (Starr and Moon pratting their way through Nilsson’s ‘Together’).

I can see rock nerds finding it an interesting artefact, especially the deluxe edition which contains all sorts of glimpses into the backstage chaos of its wide cast of characters. As a musical experience though? Moon can’t sing and later events cast a pall of sadness over it, which can make it hard to really enjoy.

And it should have been called The Daft Side Of The Moon.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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