The Moon


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-68)

- Andy 'Drew' Bennett -- bass

- Larry Brown -- drums, keyboards

- David Marks -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Matthew Moore -- guitar, keyboards

 

  line up 2 (1968-69)

- Larry Brown -- drums, keyboards

NEW - David P. Jackson -- bass (replaced Drew Bennett)

- David Marks -- vocals, guitar

- Matthew Moore -- guitar, keyboards

 

 

 

- Davie Allan & the Arrows (Larry Brown)

- The Band without a Name (David Marks)

- The Bel-Aires (Larry Brown)

The Beach Boys (David Marks)

- Dave and the Marksmen (David Marks)

- Dillard and Clark (David Jackson)

- Gunhill Road (Larry Brown)

- Hearts and Flowers (David P. Jackson)

- Matthew Moore (solo efforts)

- Matthew Moore Plus Four (solo efforts)


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Without Earth

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-12381
Year:
 1968

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: includes promotional materials

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5852

Price: $100.00

 

The Moon is one of those mid-1960s Southern California bands that gets widespread praise, but for some strange reason seems to consistently get lost when it comes to people's list of favorites.

 

Formed in 1967, the band had quite a talented line up with three of the four members having already recorded material.  The lone exception to that statement was bass player Andy Bennett.   

 

- Drummer Larry Brown had been a member of The Bel-Aires and Davie Allan & the Arrows.  He was also an in-demand sessions player having worked on scores of Hollywood exploitation soundtracks.

- Rhythm guitarist David Marks replaced Al Jardin in The Beach Boys as the group's rhythm guitarist, recording several albums and touring with the band prior to Jardin's 1964 return to the lineup.  All of 16, he fronted Dave and the Marksmen, and recorded some material as a member of The Band without a Name.

- Singer/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Moore had fronted Matthew Moore Plus Four and recorded solo material.

 

My copy of the LP came with some Imperial promotional material, including a band photo and a brief band history which I'll go ahead and quote for it's entertainment factor rather any bibliographical value:

 

"The Moon is causing a high tide of admiration from pop music fans across the United States.  "Without Earth," The Moon's first Imperial records LP, is causing this wave of acceptance and has promoted critics to heap praise on this versatile and talented group.  The Moon was formed in Los Angeles in the summer of 1967 and is composed of Matthew Moore, Drew Bennett, Larry Brown and David Marks.  The group is unique in that it is completely self contained.  Members of the group play all the instruments, write all the tunes, and produce and engineer all of their recording sessions.  Larry Brown, drummer of the group, in addition to being a musician is a recording engineer.  he was born and educated near Hollywood and has been involved in the music industry for five years.  His first job was playing piano at private parties.  Drew Bennett, bass, has a varied entertainment background.  He has worked in television and movies as an extra and has toured with several pop groups.  Bennett, a Los Angeles native, has been recording and writing tunes for five years.  In his pare time he is learning the art of karate.  Guitarist David Marks also brought a vast amount of pop music experience to The Moon.  He has recorded and traveled with groups for more than five years.  marks is a native of Lake Erie, Pa.  Rounding out The Moon is lead vocalist and multi-talented musician, Matthew Moore.  Moore, in addition to his vocals, plays nearly every keyboard instrument.  A native of Oregon, he has been recording for four years.  This is The Moon and it's music will never be eclipsed."

 

Produced by Brown, 1968's "Without Earth" fell a little short in terms of originality, but the band deserved credit for having good taste when it came to their influences - a dash of Brian Wilson and Beach Boys, a touch of The Bee Gees, and a big heaping of 1967-era Beatles.  Largely penned by Matthews, it all came together in a wonderful mix of acid drenched pop-sike. (Yes, the band members have admitted they were ingesting various illicit substances while recording the album.)  The lack of creative originality was largely made up for by their enthusiasm, the set's commercial orientation, and the general sense of fun found on tracks like 'Mothers and Fathers' and 'Someday Girl.'   Add to that Moore had a voice that was perfectly suited for the genre (his performances frequently reminded me of Emmit Rhodes).  Some of my favorite American mid-1960s pop-sike. 

 

"Without Earth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Mothers and Fathers   (Matthew Moore) - 2:04

'Mothers and Fathers' started the album off with a great slice of English influenced psychedelia. To their credit, unlike many California bands these guys actually turned in passable English accents.   One of the most commercial tracks on the album with a killer hook that's almost impossible to shake, it was easy to see why Imperial tapped it as a single.  

 

 

- 1968's 'Mothers And Fathers b/w 'Someday Girl' (Imperial catalog number 66285)   rating: **** stars

2.) Pleasure   (Matthew Moore) - 3:19

The lysergic flavored 'Pleasure' made it clear the band had been listening to more than their share of "Sergeant Pepper" and "Magical Mystery Tour".  With it's sweet harmony vocals and heavy trance-ish orchestration, the song was a nice nod to The Fab Four ...   rating: **** stars

3.) I Should Be Dreaming   (Matthew Moore) - 2:34

Reaching back to The Beatles catalog for inspiration 'I Should Be Dreaming' borrowed dreamy Lennon-esque vocals, sitar, backward guitars, and taped effects to come up with another attractive lysergic ballad.  Fantastic song to listen to on quality headphones, or through top flight speakers.  rating: **** stars

4.) Brother Lou's Love Colony   (Jack Dalton - Gary Montgomery) - 4:59

One of two tracks penned by Colours' Jack Dalton and Gary Montgomery, 'Brother Lou's Love Colony' melded Coral electric sitar (including a solo that would have made George Harrison proud), with a nice pop melody.  A classic slice of sunshine pop that deserved to have been a hit.   rating: **** stars

5.) Got To Be On My Way   (Dan Moore) - 2:01

Opening up with a searing Clapton-esque guitar solo from Marks, 'Got To Be On My Way' found the band dropping the Beatlesque influences in favor of a straight forward rock attack.  The result was one of the album's highlights.  Fantastic track !!!   Had Emmitt Rhodes recorded this one he would have been a massive star.   rating: ***** stars

6.) Someday Girl   (Matthew Moore) - 2:41

Continuing to play it straight, 'Someday Girl' was a glorious pop tune that was radio ready.  You just ha to scratchy your head and wonder how the buying public missed this one ...   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Papers   (Matthew Moore) - 1:00

'Papers' started out as one of the album's best compositions, but hit a brick wall after roughly a minute,  Shame they didn't finish it.   rating: *** stars  

2.) Faces   (Matthew Moore) - 2:04

'Papers seamlessly morphed into 'Faces' which was one of the album's most attractive vocal performances.  Great melody and multi-part vocal arrangement with another hook that you'll be hard pressed to shake.   rating: **** stars

3.) Never Mind   (Matthew Moore) - 1:48

Another highpoint came in the form of 'Never Mind'.  Musically this one sounded like a cross between A Michael Nesmith-penned Monkees tune and 1965-era Beatles.  Killer two minutes of pop majesty.  Only complaint was I wish it were longer.   rating: ***** stars  

4.) Give Me Moore   (Matthew Moore) - 2:45

The harpsichord-propelled ballad 'Give Me Moore' was pretty, but kind of fey.  Not one of my favorites.   rating: *** stars

5.) She's On My Mind   (Jack Dalton - Gary Montgomery) - 2:24

The second Dalton-Montgomery composition, 'She's On My Mind' sounded like something The Free Design would have recorded.  With its intricate group harmonies, it was a very MORish track, but in a cool kind of way.  Since I'm a big Free Design fan, it gets high marks from me.   rating: ***** stars  

6.) Walking Around   (Matthew Moore) - 1:52

Opening with an odd sound effect that reappeared midway through the track (Theramin, oscillator?), 'Walking Around' turned into one of the album's best pop efforts.  Another radio-ready slice of top-40 pop.   rating: ***** stars  

 

 

It isn't perfect, but remains one of my favorite mid-1960s American pop-sike albums.  Well worth tracking down, even more so given you can still find affordable copies.

 

 

SRB 10/2009

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Moon

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-12444
Year:
 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut lower left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5853

Price: $80.00

 

 

After a personnel change that saw original bassist Andy 'Drew' Bennett replaced by David P. Jackson, the band reappeared with 1969's "The Moon".   Co-produced by drummer Larry Brown and singer/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Moore, musically the set wasn't a major change from the debut.  With Moore again writing the majority of the eleven tracks, their overarching sound remained firmly rooted in sunshine-pop/pop-sike, though much of the debut's sense of experimentation was dropped in favor of a relatively stripped down sound.  Over the years I've listened to the set a dozen times and while it's never impressed me as much as the debut, it has steadily grown on me over the years.  Interestingly this was the first used album I ever bought.  I remember shelling out $3.00 for it and being less than knocked out by the results (course I was listening to lots of Robin Trower at that point in my life). 

 

"The Moon" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Pirate   (Matthew Moore) - 2:56

Yeah the lyrics were goofy (something about a mortal enemy being reincarnated as a beautiful woman), but 'Pirate' was one of the most top-40 commercial things they'd recorded.  Featuring one of those bright pop melodies with great harmony vocals that Badfinger would effortlessly churn out, it was a great choice for a single, though it did little commercially.   rating: **** stars

2.) Lebanon   (Matthew Moore - Peter Morse) - 1:43

I'm guessing 'Lebanon' was the band's attempt at a big statement (though that plotline was lost on me).  Moore's vocal was unusual in that it featured him shifting into a high register and switching over into a decent English accent.  The result was one of their prettiest melodies.  Shame it was so short.   rating: **** stars

3.) Transporting Machine   (Matthew Moore) - 1:37

Opening with a nice David marks guitar and sporting another 'out there' lyric 'Transporting Machine' was surprisingly a funky outing for the band.  Nice soul horn arrangement didn't hurt the proceedings.   rating: **** stars

4.) Mary Jane   (Pat Witcraft - Robert Klimes) - 2:10

The lone non-original, slathered in a neo-Baroque arrangement 'Mary Jane' was just too precious and pompous for my tastes.  Nice stereo separation on the mix.   rating: *** stars

5.) Softly   (Matthew Moore) - 2:56

'Softly' found the band playing around with an R&B sound.  Unfortunately it was kind of a cluttered song bouncing through different time signatures.   One of Moore's more forgettable efforts.  Shame they didn't stick with a streamlined melody line.    rating: ** stars

6.) Not To Know   (Matthew Moore) - 2:40

Once again featuring an English feel, the pretty ballad 'Not To Know' has always reminded me of an Emmit Rhodes-via-Badfinger track.    rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) The Good Side   (Matthew Moore) - 2:55

'The Good Side' opened side two with what qualified as a stab at a bluesy number.  Give them credit for being willing to try something outside of their normal creative bounds, but clearly blues weren't their strength.    rating: ** stars   

2.) Life Is a Season   (Matthew Moore) - 2:19

'Life Is a Season' was a bland pop number that simply never ignited.    rating: ** stars   

3.) John Automation   (Matthew Moore) - 2:15

Propelled by a nice Marks fuzz guitar performance, 'John Automation' was an out-and-put rocker.  Moore's lyric was quite strange making it an interesting choice for a single and perhaps helping explain why it didn't sell.    rating: **** stars 

4.) Come Out Tonight   (Matthew Moore) - 2:45

The piano dominated 'Come Out Tonight' could have been a "Ram"-era Paul McCartney outtake.  Very commercial, but in a fashion that will certainly sicken some folks,.  I like "Ram" so this one appeals to me.    rating: **** stars

5.) Mr. Duffy   (Matthew Moore - Larry Brown) - 2:52

With its intricate Beatlesque arrangement 'Mr. Duffy' was the song that most recalled the debut LP.  Again, it'll be too cute for some folks, but I love this kind of stuff.   rating: ***** stars  

 

Imperial also tapped the album for two singles:

 

- 1968's 'John Automation' b/w 'Faces' (Imperial catalog number 66330)

- 1969's Pirate'' b/w 'Not To Know' (Imperial catalog number 66415)

 

A tad less appealing that the debut album, but still a very good slice of mid--1960s American pop-sike.

 

 

For hardcore fans there were actually two versions of the album.  Both versions featured the same track listing, but the original Leveque cover illustration didn't include the Paul Slaughter band photo.

 

Like the debut, the sophomore LP also failed to sell and the group subsequently called it quits.  

 

- Brown continued working as a sessions player, as well as playing with Tony Allwine and Gunill Road.

- Jackson reappeared as a member of Dillard and Clark.

- In the mid-1970s Marks rejoined The Beach Boys, replacing the late Carl Wilson.   When The Beach Boys underwent a nasty internal split, he hooked up with Mike Love's Beach Boys, but 'retired' when he came down with Hepatitis C.  He's served as the national spokesman for The Hep C Hope Foundation and has a nice website at: http://www.davidleemarks.com/

 

- Moore toured with Joe Cocker, recorded some solo material, and became a sessions singer and keyboard player.

 

 

SRB 10/2009

 

 

 

 

 

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