Over it's first 18 months of release, Play morphed from critical-darling to popular masterpiece to overplayed commercial pap, thanks to Moby's decision to license out all of the album's 18 tracks. So ubiquitous was this album that even today, the opening piano notes and Bessie Jones sample are enough to make any 30-something groan.
Still, listening to the record as a whole 13 years after its release and divorced from advertising overexposure, it's possible to once again appreciate the subtle triumph of Play. Despite some serious marketing efforts from record labels, dance music never caught on in North America during the 1990s. What managed to wash-up on our shores were some pretty awkward efforts from rock bands to embrace dance culture. But by merging the most analog of analog samples (old blues tunes) with modern dance tropes, Moby showed it was possible to embrace electronic techniques and danceable rhythms without the sneering aggression of bands like the Prodigy.
While it's arguably not his best (many would point to 1995's Everything is Wrong) Play is easily Moby's most accessible and immediately satisfying listen.