Go: The Very Best of Moby Label: V2
Is it strange to enjoy an album so much yet have absolutely nothing to say about it? Such is the quandary of what to do with Go – The Very Best of Moby. The disc is jam-packed with gem after gem, so why aren’t I more excited about it? Is it because the album feels strangely dated? Funny thing to say, isn’t it? After all, it’s not as though the music world was ever in the throes of some gospel record-sampling craze like they were with New Jack Swing, nu-metal or grunge. And yet, these songs seem trapped in time somehow, as if Moby’s success was not a reward for going against the grain but an accident, one that the market has since corrected. Man, does a dis from Eminem really carry that much weight?
While we’re asking more questions than we’re answering, does it seem strange that V2 is compiling a best-of that covers only three albums? Does that mean Moby is parting ways with the label? Okay, enough questions. How is the music? Aw, damn, that was another question. Either way, the answer at this point in time is…fine. That’s it, the music is merely fine. “South Side” and “Porcelain” are still great tunes, but their impact was lessened after both were beaten to death by every radio station on the planet, while other songs (“Natural Blues,” “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?”) now reveal themselves as the second-tier efforts that they were in the first place. “Honey” still rocks, though, and “New York, New York,” a new track with Debbie Harry on lead vocals, is the spryest track either Moby or Harry have touched in years.
The most curious aspect of Go, however, is the inclusion of two songs from Everything Is Wrong, Moby’s 1995 Elektra debut (“God Moving over the Face of the Waters” and a live version of “Feeling So Real”), and an updated version of the Tones on Tail-sampling “Go,” Moby’s first big single from 1991. Is this to please the old school techno purists, or to raise the overall energy level of the album? (Again, more questions, sorry.) Either way, it’s not the right call. The purists wrote Moby off years before Play was even released, and there are plenty of songs from the V2 years that not only would have raised the energy level but also would have gelled with the rest of the material much better than the songs listed above. Whither, “Bodyrock”? That’s right, the slammin’ “Bodyrock” is relegated to the bonus disc of (wack) remixes, most of which disregard Moby’s original compositions entirely. “Raining Again,” the Peter Murphy-ish track from Hotel, suffers the same fate, while rave-ups “Machete” and “Rafters” are left out altogether.
There is a kick-ass compilation of Moby’s V2-era work that is sitting out there, waiting to be made, but Go – The Very Best of Moby isn’t it. It’s good, mind you, and at times damn good, but nowhere near as good as it could have been. The bonus disc of remixes is a great idea, though whoever chose the mixes has a tin ear for the art form – the fact that Rob D’s mix of “Porcelain” missed the cut is nothing short of criminal – but in the interest of spreading the wealth in terms of the total songs covered on both discs, they diminished the overall product. So let’s pass a new rule for music compilations and awards for acting at the same time: you’re not looking for the most from someone, just the best. Al Pacino and John Lithgow, turn in your awards at once. Moby, better luck next time.