It’s a quarter of a century since rave happened. Specifically, it was 25 years this week that Moby‘s debut album Moby was released. For the preceding couple of years, he had been churning out 12″ singles under various pseudonyms, and so most of his early albums really seem to be compilations rather than actual albums. Having said that, it’s still annoying to me that the version that I own of this album has a slightly different track listing to the original one, and so I had to search around on YouTube to find the first track. Mind you, the UK release, The Story So Far, has a completely different selection of tracks altogether.
Anyway, having tracked the original album down, it opens with the slightly daft rave piece Drop a Beat, a single from early 1992 which would not have sounded entirely out of place on an early record by The Prodigy.
It’s fair to say this album hasn’t entirely aged well. Everything, originally from 1991’s UHF EP, is better, particularly when the house piano arrives, but it still all feels as though you have stepped out of a time machine into the early 1990s, rather than a coherent album track. I gather that’s what Moby thinks as well.
Yeah is less inspired, and then comes Electricity, which was previously the b-side to Drop a Beat, is a bit dull, but is one of the more pleasant tracks on here. Next is Next is the E, or I Feel It, as it was renamed for the UK charts. Quite why this was picked as the second UK single is a total mystery unless you imagine yourself in a sweaty early 1990s, drug-fuelled haze, at which point it starts to make some kind of sense.
Mercy is one of Moby‘s ambient moments – a little out of place here perhaps, and there isn’t a lot to it, but it’s one of the best things so far on here. It leads us on to the Woodtick mix of Go, the huge single which had just taken Europe by storm and probably led to the release of this album in the first place. It had originally appeared on the Mobility EP as his first release in late 1990.
It’s difficult to know what to say about Go – it’s certainly Moby‘s finest hour, and honestly if this album hadn’t existed then it would have been another five years or so before this turned up on one, which would have been a lot less than it deserved. It’s so good! Those huge string chords from Twin Peaks, the enormous drums. Not to mention the millions of alternative mixes, which we probably didn’t need.
Help Me to Believe follows, released under the Mindstorm and Brainstorm pseudonyms in 1991. It’s definitely nice to have something that’s fairly pure dance music, but not nearly as manic or crazy as most of the things on the first half of the album. You do get the feeling that probably isn’t going to last long though.
Your gut is right, although Have You Seen My Baby?, silly though it is, isn’t too offensive. Ah-Ah is much more what you might expect from a rave track, but it bounces along without causing too much trouble. Maybe it just feels less of an affront on the senses by this stage in the album.
Slight Return is next, definitely belonging on the Ambient album rather than here. It’s a very sweet piece, and although it doesn’t really go anywhere in particular, it’s difficult not to enjoy. The same is true for Stream, which has some lovely gentle tribal drumming and lots of pads. It’s a world away from the first few tracks on here.
And that’s about it. Except that the German CD closes with Thousand, which has pretty much nothing going for it except for the concept, and therefore also the title. It’s silly, but fun.
But Moby was the album that introduced us to Moby, the eccentric multi-instrumentalist who periodically sets the world alight
Perhaps surprisingly, Moby is still widely available.