Defend the indefensible/POO: Moby - Play

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this album haunts me. it is toweringly, majestically, perfectly bad. it is totally overwhelming & cloying and it makes everything else seem subtler&richer in comparison.

pls marvel at this crushingly sincere LCD monstrosity & cultural moment. vote for your fav track, vote for the worst, vote for the one which was used in the best advert (they've all got at least one!), explain why this way a thing, idc, just reckon with it in whichever way helps you get through the day.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Porcelain 11
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? 5
Run On 4
South Side 3
Honey 2
Everloving 1
My Weakness 1
Machete 1
Natural Blues 1
Rushing 1
The Sky Is Broken 0
Guitar Flute & String 0
Inside 0
Find My Baby 0
If Things Were Perfect 0
Down Slow 0
Bodyrock 0
7 0


ogmor, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:26 (nine months ago) Permalink

I kinda wish he'd stopped just before this. Or, rather, I wish he'd recorded the ambient tracks for Animal Rights/Little Idiot and stopped there.

Oiled Launch (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:32 (nine months ago) Permalink

When this came out I was 13 and Fatboy Slim was my favorite thing in the world. I remember hearing "Bodyrock" and immediately rushing out to buy this with my paper route money. After four tracks I was like...what the hell?! But eventually I grew to like it - I didn't find it too cloying or overbearing like everyone else seemed to, maybe because I wasn't so cynical back then. That said I pretty much never went past track 11 and looking at those track titles just brings up a big ol' blank

Anyway obvious answer but "Porcelain" meant a lot to me back then and even now I get choked up a bit when I hear it. I have pretty fond memories of delivering newspapers in the rain and listening to this under my hood. There aren't a whole lot of tunes that fill me with overwhelming nostalgia but that is definitely one of them.

frogbs, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:44 (nine months ago) Permalink

Porcelain

In a slipshod style (Ross), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:48 (nine months ago) Permalink

Think I used to really like Run On back in the day.

But as frogbs said, given how ubiquitous this was plus the adverts thing, I'm surprised how many of those track titles mean absolutely nothing to me. Probably only recognise about 6 of them.

groovypanda, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:58 (nine months ago) Permalink

I liked this album for about a semester of uni, but looking back it was pretty horrible. 18 tracks! How many of them are a looped blues sample whacked on top of a housey piano line? A couple of those ones are probably OK.

chap, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 15:03 (nine months ago) Permalink

i recently a podcast episode about a guy who said he loaned Moby a copy of the anthology he ended up getting most of the Play samples from. He'd been trying to get the record back for a decade and a half.

President Keyes, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 15:09 (nine months ago) Permalink

I'll take memory gospel over any of these tracks. Cut from the same cloth but better

In a slipshod style (Ross), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 15:12 (nine months ago) Permalink

I liked it when it first came out; then the ubiquity made it increasingly overbearing. In hindsight, I would say it's a fairly decent, listenable album. I am probably not going to put it on again to test this view though.

I'll vote for "Rushing", as it is haunting enough, I suppose. The enthusiasm is dripping from my post, I know.

Freedom, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:48 (nine months ago) Permalink

I liked Porcelain. Apart from Why Does My Heart... I can't actually remember how any of the other songs go.

Colonel Poo, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:58 (nine months ago) Permalink

have you ever heard Moby culturally appropriate someone from Madchester in the 80's? i actually got the hard to find (i don't know if anyone's looking...) AWOL EP in and i was laughing pretty hard playing it. so, probably more listenable now than Play! also weird to think that i was in my room listening to the smiths while he was up the road recording this in Stamford, CT.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoT3GpprXhw

scott seward, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:01 (nine months ago) Permalink

also, weirdly, or not so weirdly, when i see the cover of Play i immediately hear "gold digger" in my head!

scott seward, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:04 (nine months ago) Permalink

Hmm that isn't Moby's first band though, he was in the Vatican Commandos in 1983 and that's from 1984. How dare they.

Colonel Poo, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:05 (nine months ago) Permalink

yeah, they fucked up.

scott seward, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:08 (nine months ago) Permalink

How many of them are a looped blues sample whacked on top of a housey piano line?

that's arguably Moby's greatest strength on this album

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:12 (nine months ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, they're the most enjoyable ones - which is not to say they're not massively facile and formulaic.

chap, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:24 (nine months ago) Permalink

to be fair, this probably isn't the worst Moby album.

scott seward, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:30 (nine months ago) Permalink

this is pretty good late 90s electronic pop record and not much indefensible about it imo! haven't heard a lot of it in a while and i might cringe at some of it but it is not a bad record

marcos, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:31 (nine months ago) Permalink

everything is wrong is 1000x better though

marcos, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:32 (nine months ago) Permalink

"South Side," but his best song is "We Are All Made of Stars."

flappy bird, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:54 (nine months ago) Permalink

fumbling over my keyboard trying to figure out which cynical/sarcastic point to make here

- this album is missing perennial favorite "theme from jason bourne"
- no songs with Moby vocals can be a favorite because they're bad
- really though it always sounds like he recorded a scratch track for someone else to sing on the release

going to pick "Natural Blues" because it combines one of the better (if more obvious) samples and he figured out how to use more than one keyboard preset

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:08 (nine months ago) Permalink

is Gwen Stefani on the album version of "South Side"?

flappy bird, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:09 (nine months ago) Permalink

I admittedly listened to this album a million times and the financial/hype boost Moby got from this allowed him to put on a festival tour that had a pretty good lineup. It was one of the first music experiences I traveled with friends to see, so I can't be mad

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:11 (nine months ago) Permalink

flappy, nope

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:11 (nine months ago) Permalink

although if you purchased it later, I think they just wholesale swapped the original for the Gwen version

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:11 (nine months ago) Permalink

There's nothing indefensible about this album at all - I last listened to it earlier this year and it still holds up, IMO. Voted for 'Porcelain'

Gholdfish Killah (Turrican), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:14 (nine months ago) Permalink

did anyone else read Moby's 'essays' from the cd booklet?

http://absolutelypointless.net/cerealdog/moby.html

soref, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:40 (nine months ago) Permalink

I was too mean, but the staggering overselling of the album really overshadows the music in the long view and the songs with Moby vocals are really the heart of the album, and this was really the point where he figured out how to get his guitar-playing stage persona working in harmony with his piano house musing.

The sample-laden pieces are cloying but lifted the profile of the album and the endless licensing wore it out.

soref, I am sure I read those once or twice but, oh man, Moby's personal musings have always quickly veered into "guy having opinions that are mostly agreeable but quickly move into territory where you wish he'd realize he's famous now and doesn't need a chip that large on his shoulder"

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:43 (nine months ago) Permalink

first time I read about veganism

ogmor, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:48 (nine months ago) Permalink

that's pretty cool tbh

mh, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:49 (nine months ago) Permalink

I must have heard this album a thousand times when I was 11 years old, seemed great at the time, seems quite dated now, perhaps because that style of sentimental sampling would become so ubiquitous in commercial contexts in the internet age

also it just doesn't seem as impressive to me now, I can see through those samples and chord changes in a way I could not at all as a pre-teen, back then I just thought wow these are great sounds

voting porcelain

niels, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:49 (nine months ago) Permalink

I read Moby's book last year and really enjoyed it, which prompted me to go and relisten to a bunch of the music he recorded over the same period. I rather like this album. It has an appealing, open simplicity - there's nothing very clever about it, and he rinses the same basic idea over and over again, but it's nice, and sometimes I want to listen to nice music. Can't remember the track name, but I like the one that's just two string chords over a kick drum and nothing else.

bamboohouses, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 21:20 (nine months ago) Permalink

first time I read about veganism

― ogmor, Wednesday, December 13, 2017 1:48 PM (three hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

me too

marcos, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 21:55 (nine months ago) Permalink

no nevermind it was everything is wrong notes when i first read about veganism

marcos, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 21:55 (nine months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 31 December 2017 00:01 (eight months ago) Permalink

I'd love to know exactly how much money he made from this album -- he was certainly smarter than other pre-Y2K pop stars who didn't see Napster coming.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 31 December 2017 00:02 (eight months ago) Permalink

Trivia: Margaret Fielder (of Moonshake and Laika) told me she was the one who convinced Moby to go vegan, back in his Connecticut days. I think they later were in a band together in NY. I was a little surprised she didn't make it into the book (iirc).

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 00:22 (eight months ago) Permalink

As well as adverts does anyone remember 'Play' tracks creeping into fictional TV shows much? e.g. the X-Files used 'My Weakness' during a Mulder sort of finds his sister scene (iirc). Another money-spinner there.

nashwan, Sunday, 31 December 2017 00:25 (eight months ago) Permalink

Huh, I guess she and Moby were also in some lineup of Ultra Vivid Scene! You can see Moby here around 3:26:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aXF9DG9FGo

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 00:28 (eight months ago) Permalink

As well as adverts does anyone remember 'Play' tracks creeping into fictional TV shows much? e.g. the X-Files used 'My Weakness' during a Mulder sort of finds his sister scene (iirc). Another money-spinner there.

This is the one I remember as well – it was some super depressing kids graveyard IIRC.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 31 December 2017 05:06 (eight months ago) Permalink

i think this album sounds pretty of its time but i like it. it's almost like a weird unintentional counterpart to ferraro's far side virtual or something. even though the samples are supposed to be old/soulful it has this weird digital plastic sheen to it like the sonic equivalent of the blobby, optimistic futurism that characterized early 2000s design. it hints at the emptiness and capitalist sheen of that time too, with the beautiful old spirituals repurposed as detergent ads. it feels like the opening chapters of gibson's pattern recognition where the protagonist is just drifting through this hypercorporate depersonalized london of non-places.

moby would despise that analysis i'm sure but i've always found that time period weirdly alluring so i really dig this record.

oiocha, Sunday, 31 December 2017 05:43 (eight months ago) Permalink

this album changed my life when i was in middle school tbh

crüt, Sunday, 31 December 2017 06:45 (eight months ago) Permalink

Find My Baby was my favorite at the time, I think, but the tracks I'd actively want to listen to again are Porcelain, Natural Blues, and Inside

"Whispering Wind" from the Natural Blues single is legitimately great:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFnPV7JdaLM

crüt, Sunday, 31 December 2017 06:55 (eight months ago) Permalink

this is a good album

there's nothing very clever about it, and he rinses the same basic idea over and over again, but it's nice, and sometimes I want to listen to nice music.

otm

vote for the one which was used in the best advert (they've all got at least one!)

offtm

shackling the masses with plastic-wrapped snack picks (sic), Sunday, 31 December 2017 07:23 (eight months ago) Permalink

Mmm, whatever 8-bit quantisation they did to The Mercy Seat for that video above made it about three times better, it sounds as heavy as All Tomorrow's Parties there.

attention vampire (MatthewK), Sunday, 31 December 2017 08:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

I can't say I listen to this much anymore but I don't quite understand the contempt for it. You people are weird.

Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?

kornrulez6969, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:18 (eight months ago) Permalink

I loved Honey and bought the cd single.

piscesx, Sunday, 31 December 2017 20:47 (eight months ago) Permalink

there is a time and place for everything.
and when my head hurts i listen to moby.
i have no problem with this album, or, when he sings.
that said, when it comes to blues samples being reused in a modern context,
i much prefer the little axe groove, but then i would.

mark e, Sunday, 31 December 2017 21:02 (eight months ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 1 January 2018 00:01 (eight months ago) Permalink

it's nice, and sometimes I want to listen to nice music.

it's simple, undemanding and unambiguous. you can surf around it and enjoy it with a bit of detachment like you'd enjoy touring a shopping centre. much as I like a lot of music that doesn't require too much attention, it doesn't work when the music is desperately trying to conjure a feeling of poignant beauty. cut&paste pathos. seems of a piece with the thomas newman american beauty soundtrack. I can't imagine anyone topping this though, it is a dazzling turd

ogmor, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 01:33 (eight months ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSY5HaXxTgI

kolakube (Ross), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 02:22 (eight months ago) Permalink

ps. there's no way this albums indefensible

kolakube (Ross), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 02:26 (eight months ago) Permalink

the thread awaits

ogmor, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 02:44 (eight months ago) Permalink

Nicolas Jaar

brimstead, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 03:20 (eight months ago) Permalink

WHISPERING WIND was the first Moby song I ever downloaded and I loved it.

Iirc it was an Audiogalaxy download and it then recommended me to listen to Boards of Canada.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 04:15 (eight months ago) Permalink

i had this when i was in HS and listened to it and "18" a lot before my junior year and probably sold themm before i went to college or something because i dont think i've listened to them since.

anyway, i went back and the only one i actually sat through for the whole thing was "my weakness".

Men's Scarehouse - "You're gonna like the way you're shook." (m bison), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 04:43 (eight months ago) Permalink

this was the official album of every no-tablecloth fine dining place in philly when i lived there.

i do like WAIT FOR ME (from 2009) quite a bit. his version of bedroom pop melancholia.

maura, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 14:37 (eight months ago) Permalink

This is also the “vinyl me please” album/reissue of the month and they have two features an interview with Moby tañking about the album and a review of why they think it’s a great album if you want a well thought defense for it:

http://www.vinylmeplease.com/magazine/mobys-liner-notes/

http://www.vinylmeplease.com/magazine/play-reissue-details/

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 16:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

i recently a podcast episode about a guy who said he loaned Moby a copy of the anthology he ended up getting most of the Play samples from. He'd been trying to get the record back for a decade and a half.

― President Keyes, miércoles 13 de diciembre de 2017 15:09 (two weeks ago)

In the Moby interview he says the album is the Lomax comp “Songs of the South” that he borrowed from a friend!

The comp is on spotify and it’s great btw.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 16:50 (eight months ago) Permalink

“Sounds of the south” not songs

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 16:50 (eight months ago) Permalink

Difficult to now hear this album with fresh ears after years of overexposure and tons of clones. But hardly indefensible. 18 had a great lead single but the well had otherwise run dry

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 18:43 (eight months ago) Permalink

He did oversaturate Play with too many songs and it’s too front loaded, the 2nd half gets boring.

If he had released it as a 12 track album and save another 12 for a Pt. 2 released 10 months later he could’ve had two hit albums in less than a year.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 18:54 (eight months ago) Permalink

More a fan of Play: The B-Sides bonus CD

1. Flower
2. Sunday
3. Memory Gospel
4. Whispering Wind
5. Summer
6. Spirit
7. Flying Foxes
8. Sunspot
9. Flying Over the Dateline
10. Running
11. The Sun Never Stops Setting

... (Eazy), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 18:58 (eight months ago) Permalink

is Gwen Stefani on the album version of "South Side"?

― flappy bird, Wednesday, December 13, 2017 Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I know mh already answered this, but nope. I made the mistake of buying the album for my then-gf, who liked the Gwen version. I was back at the record shop the next day to buy the CD5, which cost nearly as much as the album!

naus, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 09:03 (eight months ago) Permalink

I believe it's called overselling:

Play is easily the most influential album in the history of electronic music, because it made an entire audience for the music out of nothing.

niels, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 09:46 (eight months ago) Permalink

Might have posted this upthread but it seems to me that this record’s biggest legacy (and perhaps Moby’s) is that it effectively killed the idea that a musician could “sell out” in licensing of all his or her songs.

It’s almost hard to remember now but before this record, there was an almost puritanical view of licensing music within alternative/independent musician circles (of which Moby was still then a member). It mostly came up in the wake of grunge and alternative, which found a bunch of heretofore small independent acts used to playing clubs and selling a few thousand records at best suddenly signed to major labels, selling tons of records and playing in stadiums. Notwithstanding their sudden increase in popularity, using your music to expressly sell products remained largely verboten — and to the extent it was done at all, it was largely seen as an embarrassment.

By 1999, however, grunge and alternative were largely dead. A number of these acts had been dropped by the majors. Some completely flopped — others had successfully (and shamelessly) commercialized themselves to broaden their audience (I’m still blown away at how generic the Butthole Surfers became). But however you felt about it, a whole lot of heroes were dead by the end of the decade, either literally or figuratively — as was any notion of “integrity” in pop music (which was always a terrible idea anyway).

Enter Play. By not simply licensing the music but by making a self-conscious statement that he intended to license every song on the record, Moby effectively gave a host of musicians license to do the same. Almost immediately, and accelerated by the internet and the advent of mp3s, the floodgates opened and countless indie acts were getting their music on TV shows, commercials and the like. Music was everywhere And artists making money off of it (instead of just the labels) was “OK."

Whatever else you think of the music itself (I enjoy it), that to me is the record’s biggest legacy. There really is no such thing as "selling out" anymore. Musicians are free to make money off their “art” in pretty much any way possible. Thanks, Moby.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 16:29 (eight months ago) Permalink

can we talk about how bad Moby's live setup is

(the blues version in his Broadway show) (crüt), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 16:44 (eight months ago) Permalink

this is pretty great though

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsjr49AdrUA

(the blues version in his Broadway show) (crüt), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 16:51 (eight months ago) Permalink

Is he actually hitting a note or percussion with the drumsticks? You can hear them hitting pads in the video but I don’t hear what they’re doing in the music.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 17:00 (eight months ago) Permalink

It seems like the beat is already there and he’s just playbacking it which looks totally stupid if that’s it.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 17:02 (eight months ago) Permalink

that's exactly what he's doing

he still does it except he has his band play on top of the full album track which is terrible and stupid

(the blues version in his Broadway show) (crüt), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 17:07 (eight months ago) Permalink

did he explicitly state that he planned to license every song on Play? how did other artists react?

niels, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 17:09 (eight months ago) Permalink

they took drugs

President Keyes, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 18:52 (eight months ago) Permalink

Always a good time to post this account of being in Moby's band and pretending to play keyboards:
http://inthemix.junkee.com/my-1993-rave-adventure-with-moby/19934
http://inthemix.junkee.com/how-i-survived-americas-first-ever-rave-tour/20112

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 19:00 (eight months ago) Permalink

i think tbh that the selling out for Moby wasn't much of an issue bc the usual folks who'd cry "sellout!" at a musician licensing their songs only moan if it's rock music, i don't think blues-sampling electronic tunes are gonna register for them.

omar little, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 19:05 (eight months ago) Permalink

Always a good time to post this account of being in Moby's band and pretending to play keyboards:
http://inthemix.junkee.com/my-1993-rave-adventure-with-moby/19934
http://inthemix.junkee.com/how-i-survived-americas-first-ever-rave-tour/20112

― change display name (Jordan)

Great read! Makes me both respect and disrespect Moby.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 19:25 (eight months ago) Permalink

Also there's a podcast interview where Moby addresses Richard D James calling him a buffoon and an elitist. Moby thinks (or at least lies about it) that he called him a buffoon because he played guitar on stage and that he was being called an elitist for having insomnia and not being talkative. These Jim Poe anecdotes actually reveal the reason... he was just dancing on stage like a buffoon with unplugged instruments and he travelled on airplane while everyone else (including Aphex Twin and Orbital) travelled by bus with the rest of the roadies and staff.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:04 (eight months ago) Permalink

Points to RDJ and fuck you Moby.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:04 (eight months ago) Permalink

It also shows how Moby was a businessman first and a musician second so the shameless selling out of Play shouldn't be surprising to any of his fans.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:08 (eight months ago) Permalink

dude aint got no soul

kurt schwitterz, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:12 (eight months ago) Permalink

good read that Jim Poe article

niels, Thursday, 4 January 2018 07:42 (eight months ago) Permalink


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