The #52 Album Of All-Time

Winston + Moby 2014-09-11 10.12

Ten facts about Moby and his album Play:

  • Moby was born Richard Melville Hall. Said Moby “Supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-granduncle.” He took his stage name from Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick.
  • Play spent five weeks at #1 on the UK album chart; however, it only peaked at #38 on the US album chart, despite selling over two million units domestically.
  • Play has sold over 12 million units worldwide to date. Prior to this, Moby’s biggest-selling album was Everything Is Wrong, which scanned 250,000 units. Moby’s manager hoped Play would equal that album’s sales success.
  • LA Weekly was not a fan of this album upon it release. The paper’s critic wrote “There’s a song on this album which asks ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?,’ and the reason is because I’m listening to this album.” Ouch. However, in the Village Voice’s annual survey of nearly 500 music critics, Play was named the year’s best album.
  • Every track on Play was licensed for use in films, television or advertisements.
  • Nine commercial singles were released from Play. The eighth, “South Side,” was the only one to make the US pop top 40, albeit in a new version with additional vocals performed by Gwen Stefani.
  • Moby wrote “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” in 1992. It started out as a techno song. Moby tried it again at a much slower tempo, which morphed into the version that appears on Play.
  • A music journalist friend of Moby received an Alan Lomax box set consisting of field recordings made by the ethnomusicologist and archivist. The friend didn’t want the collection, so he gave it to Moby. Samples from three of its songs were used by Moby on the Play tracks “Honey,” “Find My Baby” and “Natural Blues.”
  • Presently I rank Play at #52 on my All-Time Albums list.
  • In 2002, Moby wrote on his web-site: “Strange fact: best friend in 1973 was Robert Downey Jr…. haven’t seen him since.”

Today Moby turns 49 years old. Here are ten of his finest, with a focus on Play.

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