Two Discs Of The Moon
Is it possible to have too little of a bad thing? The people at Sanctuary Records/Castle Music must think so, as they have just extended Keith Moon’s monstrously awful 1975 solo album, Two Sides Of The Moon, beyond its initial, mercifully brief ten songs, beyond even its 1997 18-song CD reissue, to bring us a no-holds barred, no-take left unturned deluxe pack. Two Sides Of The Moon will be released as a double CD, featuring fifty – that’s 50 – “tracks,” this July in “celebration” of what would have been Keith’s 60th birthday.
I wrote in great detail about the making of this album in my biography, Dear Boy/Moon, and reading back over that chapter a few weeks ago (for the first time in a long time, I should note), found myself quite fascinated by the story. Two Sides of The Moon was a disaster on an epic scale, after all, and it’s for this reason that a double CD might just succeed where the ten-song album originally failed. For only when you hear the original recordings, produced and mixed by erstwhile Beatles roadie Mal Evans, do you realize what phenomenal surgery was then performed by troubleshooters Skip Taylor and John Stronach. And however disappointing you may have found Keith’s rendition of ‘The Kids Are Alright’ – the one where he sang tamely, rather than drummed wildly – you will breathe a sigh of relief to have never previously heard his massacre of ‘My Generation.’ Indeed, the off-key vocals of the original album sound positively operatic compared to the freshly unearthed tuneless warbles that form any number of outtakes. That the competently uninspired backing performances are courtesy of the era’s top musicians (Ron Wood, Dick Dale, Joe Walsh and Steve Cropper to name merely a few of the guitarists!) makes the project all the more remarkable. This is addictive listening, but in the same way that TV shows full of car crashes are addictive: we’re hooked not on artistry, but on calamity.
It’s all too easy to ridicule, and so, when asked to write an introduction to the package, I tried to explain Keith’s state of mind – or rather, his lack of it – at the time of his exile to Los Angeles. My intro is only a couple of hundred words long, after which Andy Neill kicks in with more lengthy notes to explain the newly-unearthed recordings, including fresh interviews with some of those who remember being there. And while my words don’t justify the record that Keith made, they might help explain why it was so bad. Whether you make it through the double CD to draw your own conclusions depends on your threshold for pain.
Those with unlimited money to spend on Keith Moon mementoes will probably skip the Two Sides Of The Moon reissue, and head straight for the Pictures Of Lily drum-kit reissue. The 1967 kit, hand-crafted for The Who’s ‘Patent British Exploding Drummer,’ is arguably the most famous and sought after drum set in the world. While most of the original now resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum, you too can own this piece of history – providing you have £4995 (about $9999 at today’s rates) to burn for a replica. Question is: once you own it, will you be tempted to follow Keith’s example and trash it?