| March 1975 (1975-03)|
| August–December 1974|
| Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles|
Keith Moon, Mal Evans, Skip Taylor, John Stronach, Steve Cropper
Rock music, Rock and roll, Hard rock, Surf music
Keith Moon albums, Rock music albums
Two Sides of the Moon is the only solo album from the drummer for English rock band The Who, Keith Moon. It peaked at #155 on the Billboard 200.
Moon was the last member of the Who to release a solo album: by this point, John Entwistle had released Smash Your Head Against the Wall (with Moon playing percussion and singing backing vocals) and Whistle Rymes (also with Moon), Roger Daltrey released his hit album Daltrey, and Pete Townshend had produced several Meher Baba tribute albums and the demo compilation Who Came First.
Moon had moved into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with assistant Dougal Butler in March 1974, to play on the sessions for Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats. The album was produced by John Lennon, who had been ejected from The Troubadour with Nilsson for drunkenly heckling a Smothers Brothers performance several days before Moon's arrival. The three, along with Ringo Starr (who also drummed on Pussy Cats), Lennon's girlfriend May Pang, bassist Klaus Voormann, Voormann's girlfriend Cynthia Webb, and Starr's manager Hilary Gerrard, moved together into a Santa Monica beach house for three weeks. The sessions were affected by Lennon, Nilsson, Moon and Starr's excessive lifestyles and drug abuse, ultimately prompting Lennon to relocate the sessions to New York City to separate himself and Nilsson from the Los Angeles party scene.
At the time of Moon's arrival, Lennon had made initial recordings for Rock 'n' Roll with Phil Spector, and David Bowie and Bryan Ferry had also released cover albums; Bowie's Pin Ups notably included two songs by The Who, "I Can't Explain" and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere". Encountering The Beatles' former road manager Mal Evans on the Sunset Strip, Moon suggested that Evans produce a solo album for him. The first song, a cover of The Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby", was recorded in late March at the Record Plant Studios, with musicians that included John Sebastian, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, Jesse Ed Davis, and Miguel Ferrer playing drums. Kaylan described the album as "a fantasy record for him", allowing him to live out his fantasy to "be a Beach Boy". For this reason, Moon largely avoided playing the drums, as he considered drumming his "job". Moon left Los Angeles on 19 April to begin filming Tommy, and after the filming concluded, unofficially relocated to California in August 1974, to work on the album proper. The album would be funded by a deal directly with Los Angeles' MCA Records arranged by Bill Curbishley and Peter Rudge, as funding was unavailable from London due to Track Records' legal problems with former Who managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, and Moon's extravagant spending habits that led to reluctance to fund the sessions. Biographer Tony Fletcher expresses astonishment in Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon that MCA approved the album's recording and released the "travesty of a Beach Boys cover" as a single rather than rejecting the master tapes for "Don't Worry Baby".
Much like the difficulties that befell Pussy Cats and Rock 'n' Roll, the sessions for Two Sides of the Moon were affected by the "lazy and decadent self-indulgence that permeated the superstar scene of mid-seventies LA". The routine of inconsistent working hours and lengthy indulgence, particularly of alcohol and drugs, slowed down the sessions considerably; the atmosphere of the studio resembled that of a club. One of the album's engineers, Gary Ladinsky, recalled: "You'd get something done for an hour, and then it's a party scene. Eventually, you clear out the studio and you might do something for another half an hour, and then people wander out, and you realise, 'I guess the session is over.'" After "Teenage Idol", with Dick Dale guesting on guitar, was delivered to MCA, Evans was fired as producer, which Fletcher attributes to Moon's realisation that the sessions were largely fruitless and Evans' own drinking problem was worsening. He was replaced as producer by Skip Taylor, who was described by Volman and engineer John Stronach as the main provider of drugs for the sessions. Taylor did not dispute the assessment: "I would go in and decide, is this a night where we should have a little brandy, or should we smoke some stuff, or should we put a couple of lines out?" Most of the musicians involved saw no real difference as a result of the change. Kaylan commented that after recording his parts twice, "Basically it was the same record." Joe Walsh, who was then recording So What with Stronach at the Record Plant, was brought in to play additional guitar on "The Kids Are Alright" late in the sessions. He described the results as "semi-train wrecks" and expressed surprise that Moon had only used two producers since he would "fry" anyone who worked with him.
Moon's contributions to the album were primarily vocals. He only played drums on three songs, simultaneously accompanied by session drummers. Stronach said that the sessions had two drummers: "One to keep time and then Keith to play over it." The first set of vocals recorded with Evans was discarded, as all had been recorded while Moon was inebriated; Taylor characterised them as "a guy from England trying to sound like a guy from Nashville but having about five belts before he did it." Taylor demanded that Moon abandon the country twang in which he had sung the early songs (and which is noticeable on outtakes such as "I'm Not Angry"), and sing in the posh accent he regularly mimicked. Fletcher comments that so many musicians were brought in to try to "salvage" the record (sixty being credited on the final album, with several others such as Brian Wilson having been rumoured to have contributed as well) that it resulted in Moon sounding more like "the guest on someone else's record". Moon's behaviour during the sessions reflected his self-destructive lifestyle and worsening health. Recording vocals one night in Studio B under a low ceiling covered in spotlights, he smashed a light bulb with an ashtray every time recording was stopped because he failed to hit a note, ending up destroying the entire light fixture. Stronach recalled, "He'd come in, reach into his pockets, and there'd be pills and cocaine falling out." While Moon had previously been able to sing adequately on several songs from the A Quick One, Ready Steady Who and The Who Sell Out sessions, his strained and frequently off-key vocals on Two Sides of the Moon contributed to feelings of inadequacy and depression throughout recording.
MCA's then-president Mike Maitland told Taylor at their first meeting that a lot of money had been invested before he assumed production duties, and that MCA was "prepared to spend an enormous sum of money in promotion and marketing". This was exactly what happened: Fletcher states that "well over $200,000" was spent for "recording costs alone", and that Moon claimed to receive a non-returnable advance for the same amount. With the album being prepared for release in 1975, MCA initially refused to pay for the elaborate sleeve designed by Gary Stromberg. Moon, Taylor and Stronach went to meet with Maitland; Moon asked Taylor to stop in front of an Army and Navy store on the way, and returned with a fire axe, which he kept hidden on himself. Maitland once again denied their sleeve request, criticising them for the excessive cost of the album. Moon responded by placing himself directly in front of Maitland and held the fire axe above Maitland's mahogany partners desk, and said, "What's it going to be, dear boy? My album cover or a new desk?"
Rather than using the album as a chance to showcase his drumming skill, Keith Moon sang lead vocals on all tracks, and played drums only on three of the tracks ("Crazy Like A Fox", "The Kids Are Alright" and "Move Over Ms. L"), although he played percussion on "Don't Worry Baby". The album features contributions from Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, David Bowie, Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Jim Keltner, Bobby Keys, Klaus Voorman, John Sebastian, Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of The Turtles), Spencer Davis, Dick Dale, Suzi Quatro's sister Patti Quatro and future actor Miguel Ferrer. Originally recorded for his own album, but not released on it, John Lennon gave Moon the track "Move Over Ms. L" and later did his own version.
Moon subsequently started work on a second solo album, which was never completed. Two Sides of the Moon was re-released by Repertoire Records in 1997, including the finished songs that Moon had made for his second album. Two Sides of the Moon was again re-released by Castle Music and Sanctuary Records in July 2006, as a two-disc Deluxe Edition, featuring the original 10 songs plus 41 bonus tracks.Side one
- "Crazy Like A Fox" (Al Staehely) - 2:07
- "Solid Gold" (Nickey Barclay) - 2:48
- "Don't Worry Baby" (Brian Wilson, Roger Christian) - 3:31
- "One Night Stand" (Dennis Larden) - 3:36
- "The Kids Are Alright" (Pete Townshend) - 3:03
1997 bonus tracks
- "Move Over Ms. L" (John Lennon) - 3:10
- "Teen Age Idol" (Jack Lewis) - 2:20
- "Back Door Sally" (John Marascalco) - 2:31
- "In My Life" (Lennon-McCartney) - 2:43
- "Together" (Harry Nilsson, Moon, Richard Starkey) - 3:05
Vocals: Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Gerald Garrett, Jim Gilstrap, Ira Hawkins, Ron Hicklin, Augie Johnson, Howard Kaylan, Clydie King, Dennis Larden, Gregory Matta, Sherlie Matthews, Ricky Nelson, Harry Nilsson, Irma Routen, Julia Tillman Waters, Mark Volman, Jay DeWitt White, Andrea Wills, Carolyn Wills, David Bowie.
Guitars: Joe Walsh, John Sebastian, Jesse Ed Davis, Ronnie Wood, Spencer Davis, Mike Condello, Beau Guss, Paul Lenart, Patti Quatro, Al Staehely, John Staehely, Skip Edwards, Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar.
Bass guitars: Klaus Voormann, David Birkett, Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, Ronnie Wood, Jean Millington, Jimmie Randall, Paul Stallworth.
Piano, keyboards, Hammond Organ: Jay Ferguson, Blair Aaronson, Nickey Barclay, Skip Edwards, David Foster, Norman Kurban.
Drums, percussion: Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Kenney Jones, Jim Keltner, Cam Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Ron Grinel, James Ed Haymer, Mickey McGee, Curly Smith.
Synthesizers: Joe Walsh, Blair Aaronson.
Horns: Steve Douglas, Ollie Mitchell.
Saxophones: Bobby Keys.
- "U.S. Radio Spot" (Moon, Richard Starkey)
- "I Don't Suppose" (Nickey Barclay)
- "Naked Man" (Randy Newman)
- "Do Me Good" (Steve Cropper)
- "Real Emotion" (Steve Cropper)
- "Don't Worry Baby" - U.S. single A-side (Brian Wilson, Roger Christian)
- "Teenage Idol" - U.S. single B-side (Jack Lewis)
- "Together 'Rap'" (Harry Nilsson, Moon, Richard Starkey)
1Crazy Like a Fox2:09Two Sides of the Moon Wikipedia
3Don't Worry Baby3:32