Or: Stuck Inside of Moby With The Memphis Blues Again.

Moby Animal Rights 01

Okay Wembley Stadium, Whew! Great to see a full house in here tonight! MF’s! Okay, okay, calm down … hands up if you bought Moby’s hardcore LP, Animal Rights, back in ’96! Ahh, okay then, just me. Again. It’s okay, I’ll see myself out.

Moby made history in the mid 90’s by being the first ever bald dancey person who sailed around on a fictitious whaling ship called the Pequod, to manage being both Christian and cool, whilst simultaneously pulsing at 1000 Bpm and not having much of a public sense of humour.  Or something.

Moby Animal Rights 04

A friend of mine saw him in 1994 doing his dance dance dance Everything Is Wrong dance dance dance thang, which I had no real interest in but he told me that at one point Moby stopped, picked up a guitar and punked out a hardcore/thrash track, much to his fellow concert goers confusion*; I filed this information away in my huge brain.  Before we knew it he’d released a punk LP and before he knew it I’d bought it on the day it came out – the cover picture of a two-week old Moby being held by his grandfather is what swayed me.

By weird, cosmic coincidence I first bought Moby Dick 23 years ago today.
By weird, cosmic coincidence I first bought Moby Dick 23 years ago today.

So, this was hardcore then. Okay, cue up MF Animal Rights and prepare to get blasted by … a guitar and violin track called ‘Now I Let It Go’, which is rather gorgeous and atmospheric, reminding me very much of my beloved Rachels’, it is my favourite track here actually, by far.  My second fave track is up next, ‘Come On Baby’ which is actually really good, imagine ‘Bodyrock’ from Moby’s mega LP Play, but recorded in a really ANGRY mood, some howling guitar and some great whiplash beats – not really very punky, but damned good regardless.   Warning video contains cleavage:

In fact, there’s the rub.  For all the guitars and shouting, and there are lots of both, this isn’t really a punk LP, it’s a fucking livid dance album instead – which was without any real precedent that I can think of.  It’s all a little mannered to be hardcore, no matter how much he shouts everything has polished edges and straight lines, you know that if you cut yourself on any of the tracks here you wouldn’t need a tetanus shot; try that on a Circle Jerks platter and you’d need that needle within 5 minutes, or risk losing your hand.  Unfortunately, for all the various textures and loudness that individual tracks assume it can all be a bit samey after a point – I’d liken it to the way you can train your brain to edit out the noise of a road drill after 10 minutes.  I have found, in these last few days that listening to a single track has a much bigger impact than sitting through Animal Rights in its’ entirety.

Moby Animal Rights 03Moby Animal Rights 05

I don’t want that to sound too negative, this was a brave LP to make, he managed to alienate all his fans and all the critics at a single drop and not many artists dare to make moves that radical.  He would win them all back a couple of years later, but he had no way of knowing that then.  Moby also has the skillz to play the billz too, all the guitar, bass, keys and drums are by him.  Animal Rights is just missing a bit of songcraft and/or raw edge, some of the tracks outstay their welcome too, possibly in a bid to strain for epic status – I’m looking at you ‘Face It’ and ‘Say It’s All Mine’! they just end up sounding a little like tracks that Rollins would leave on the studio floor.

Moby Animal Rights 07

Rather strangely the LP closes with the totally anodyne ‘Living’, which plays out like a track a made-for-TV movie producer would use over a montage about the death of a character’s pet gerbil and the, clearly heartfelt, yet equally bland ‘Love Song For My Mom’**.

I think part of my issue with Animal Rights is the hectoring that goes on in print on the inner sleeve.  I happen to agree with every word Moby writes about the Christian right in the US and a certain amount of what he writes about animal rights, but having someone’s views pushed at me in a humourless manner, even when I rather agree with them, rankles a bit.  I appreciate the man has earned his right to print whatever the hell he likes on his inner sleeve, but still … I liked it better when bands just used to thank their dealers and groupies under assumed names, alongside their wives and families and the guy from the record label who put the bail up for them that one time after that misunderstanding in Dudesocket, Alabama.

Music - apparently it's not all about drugs, fistfights and bitchaz. Who knew?
Music – apparently it’s not all about drugs, fistfights and bitchaz. Who knew?

I am more than happy for Moby to exercise his constitutional rights to free speech and expression here in the service of Animal Rights, but I can’t help thinking that we’d all have been far richer for a bit more pursuit of happiness along the way.

626 Down.

PS – To my surprise, this LP’s worth a bit these days too.


*I’m assuming they went to witness him doing his dance dance dance Everything Is Wrong dance dance dance thang.

**sorry, I didn’t like typing that.

20 thoughts on “Pequod The Night

  1. Moby. He’s a guy that has obvious skills in creating pretty catchy electronic music. I’ll give him props for that. But his brand of electronic music just never appealed to me. There’s something way too mannered about it. Too bookish. Him and Fatboy Slim were hitting the alternative radio waves around the same time in the mid to late 90s. I’d much rather listen to Fatboy Slim. At least his records were fun, and you got the feeling that maybe Norman Cook might’ve been having a good time making music. Moby looked like a market analyst making music, and for the most part that’s how his music came across to me.

    I only heard ‘Animal Rights’ once. Wasn’t my thing, really.

    1. I stand by the ‘Play’ LP and this was an interesting album – sadly, if you stood Moby and myself next to each other we’d look like the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots from a diet ad …

      1. I’ll just mark it up as me just not getting him. If you dig him then there must be something redeeming there. I kinda dig that song he did with Gwen Stefani(I just lost street cred, didn’t I?)

  2. Sone good scribing there, sir. I liked this one, but haven’t heard it in years. In fact, I also liked Play. Haven’t listened to his latest one that intently, thought it was okayish … though I like the track with Lanegan.

    I actually forgot folks hate him in that whole Coldplay way. Personally I don’t mind him. I blame Bono.

  3. Ha ha. Burning the midnight oil and I find this to keep me going – ‘ you know that if you cut yourself on any of the tracks here you wouldn’t need a tetanus shot; try that on a Circle Jerks platter and you’d need that needle within 5 minutes, or risk losing your hand.’ Well written, and understanding your eclecticism not even surprised to find a MOBY LP in your vaults. Just disappointed. So, what can I add about the bald little twat without being too offensive… well, I suppose, like you said he managed to be both Christian and cool – much in the same way as Phil Collins made receding hair and tank-top jumpers No.1 in Paris Fashion week.
    I’m not saying that I hate everything about Moby, including his self-righteous sleeve manifesto – but, okay, I do hate everything about Moby. Including Moby. So self-indulgent that he even attempted a PUNK LP. Somebody tie me down before I get a whaling ship and hunt him down with my rusty harpoon.
    Although, thinking about your eclectic tastes… it did dawn on me that music should be filled (and is) with misfits and so we have to take the Moby’s with the likes of Bowie and Lydon etc. So on that positive note, I’ll say goodnight and get on with my Moby free life. (Do I get any points for not linking the words Moby and Dick?)

  4. See, I can’t get to Moby. I tried. It ain’t my thing. At first I got all excited about a possible punk Moby but then I sat down and that feeling went away when I remembered him in that American Hardcore movie, claiming he was there at the start of punk and he was somehow involved and I thought whut.

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