Friday, January 14, 2011

341. Play- All those songs from all those ads.

Album: Play
Artist: Moby
Year: 1999
Genre: Almost all of them


  1. Honey
  2. Find My Baby
  3. Porcelain
  4. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?
  5. South Side
  6. Rushing
  7. Bodyrock
  8. Natural Blues
  9. Machete
  10. 7
  11. Run On
  12. Down Slow
  13. If Things Were Perfect
  14. Everloving
  15. Inside
  16. Guitar Flute & String
  17. The Sky Is Broken
  18. My Weakness

I can say with absolute assurance that you've heard at least some of Play. Even if you live in a hermit cave where you've been industriously mossing your walls for the past two decades and you've only just recently staggered blinking into the sunlight in order to see what this internet thing was all about, you've still heard tracks from Play. This is not because Play was exceptionally popular when it was released (although it was) or because it's endured over the years (although it has) but because the tracks were sold to every advertiser, TV executive, film maker, game designer and other corporation that needed some catchy and quirky music. The songs were literally everywhere. And even if you're the sort of person who has managed to avoid film, television and all other media you possibly know aspects of the album thanks to it's extensive use of sampling.

Play is one of those albums that wasn't composed as much as it was compiled. For many it took sampling to an art form and revolutionised what could be done with electronic gadgetry and an extensive record collection. I don't know a huge amount about the history of sampling but to me it seems that Moby's biggest innovation was reversing the traditional process. Before him sampling was used by those who wanted a backing for their vocals but couldn't be bothered actually touching an instrument. Moby was more interested in sampling the vocals from old records and playing around with the instrumentation to come up with something new. Part of his talent lay in finding forgotten gems so obscure that the singers themselves probably couldn't remember recording them. Bessie Jones, Boy Blue, Spoonie Gee and the Trecherous three, Vera Hall Bill Landford and the Landfordaires and Willie Hutch have all unwittingly lent their voices to Play and consequently to video games and movie trailers. It's a concept that sort of blows my mind a bit to be honest. Vera Hall recorded Troubled So Hard back in 1937, three decades before the Calvin Klein company was founded. More than half a century later Vera's voice was being used to advertise CK jeans to the world. Moby made a fortune and Calvin Klein did well out of the deal but Hall recieved nothing. Neither did Alan Lomax, the music legend who traveled the world throughout his life recording folk, blues and roots music which would otherwise be lost forever. The samples Moby uses exist today because Lomax felt they should be preserved. You would like to think Moby felt inspired enough to send some of his fortune to Lomax (who was still alive when Play came out) but sadly he didn't feel the need.

The real sadness is that you could put forward a convincing argument to say it's the samples that make the music and not the other way around. Granted Moby does well to bring them out, dust them off and shed a new light on them but as the rest of the album proves he's nothing without them. If you take away the big singles from Play you're left with some pointless instrumental noodling and the songs Moby wrote and sang himself, all of which are imminently forgettable.

If you have the skip button ready Play is a great listen but it's not a Moby album, it's a compilation album of forgotten greats that Alan Lomax deserves as much credit for as Moby.

Highlight: Run on
Lowlight: Guitar Flue and Strings

Influenced by: Alan Lomax
Influenced: Consumerist Instincts in a generation

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "at the vidarbha cricket association ground at nagpur on november 28 1997 india`s saurav ganguly became the fifty one batsman and the 57th occation in test history to join the 99 run club. He is the 6th indian to do so. Table two has the full list of the indian players . In thhe final test in Mumbai Steevve buckner who was officiatin 32 second test match has now empired in mosat matches."

-That's the entire review. A one star review for Moby's Play which contains a strange cricket update. And just to set the record straight: he may let the power of the umpire get to his head sometimes but I don't think Steve Buchnor has ever empired a game in his life.

So do you push play or would you rather hit stop? Let me know below.


  1. Could you possibly explain about 'sampling'. I don't understand this concept.


  2. I can try to explain, but first I'd like to know what about it you do not understand?