Animal Rights (album)

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Animal Rights
Studio album by Moby
Released September 23, 1996
Recorded Summer 1995 – Spring 1996 in Manhattan, New York
  • 53:13 (UK release)
  • 72:38 (US release)
Moby chronology
Rare: The Collected B-Sides 1989–1993
(1996)Rare: The Collected B-Sides 1989–19931996
Animal Rights
I Like to Score
(1997)I Like to Score1997
Singles from Animal Rights
  1. "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"
    Released: August 26, 1996
  2. "Come On Baby"
    Released: November 4, 1996

Animal Rights is the fourth studio album by American musician Moby, released on September 23, 1996. The album was a temporary style shift from the electronica music that Moby had previously released to an alternative rock sound influenced by the hardcore punk music that he had enjoyed as a teenager.[3] The album was a critical and commercial failure.[3]


Moby's decision to release a punk rock album was in part the result of being disillusioned by the lack of positive media feedback he had been receiving from the music media for his electronic works, which they struggled to comprehend and failed to take very seriously.[4] Moby had previous experience performing rock music, having been a member of the groups Vatican Commandos and Ultra Vivid Scene in the 1980s.[5][6][7]

The album was recorded between the summer of 1995 and spring of 1996 in Manhattan, New York. Moby worked alongside Alan Moulder in the making of the album.[8] Ironically, just as Moby decided to change direction, the electronic music he moved away from started to gain recognition and popularity through artists like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy.[4]

The album's liner notes contain various pictures (the cover photograph features Moby at two weeks old, being held by his grandfather), an essay on the course of basic rights over history, an essay outlining Moby's disregard for the Christian Coalition, and a page with various "last minute maxims", such as "cruelty is unacceptable" and "you can't expect people to worry about the world when they can't feed themselves or their children."


Animal Rights was released on September 23, 1996 in the United Kingdom, where it charted at number 38 on the UK Albums Chart.[9] The album was not released in Moby's native United States until five months later on February 11, 1997. The album failed to chart on the Billboard 200, but reached number 31 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart.[10]

According to manager Eric Härle, the album almost killed Moby's career because not only did the new direction leave audiences cold – with music media uninterested and his existing fan base largely alienated by it – but it led to people being confused as to what kind of artist Moby really was.[4] Having wiped out all his early good work in establishing himself, Moby was left struggling for any kind of recognition and quickly became seen as a "has-been" in the eyes of many people in the industry.[4]

The album's first single, released on August 26, 1996, was a cover of Mission of Burma's 1981 song "That's When I Reach for My Revolver". The release was subject to some controversy as both the BBC and MTV asked Moby to change the lyrics of the song's title line. Moby acquiesced and rerecorded an alternate version of song titled "That's When I Realize It's Over" so its video could air on the networks. Mission of Burma fans were reportedly outraged; Moby defended himself, saying he didn't consider the change in lyrics to be very important. One of the album's "last minute maxims" is "freedom of speech is absolute and inviolate." The single peaked at number 50 on the UK Singles Chart.[11]

"I got one piece of fan mail from Terrence Trent D'Arby and I got a phone call from Axl Rose saying he was listening to Animal Rights on repeat. Bono told me he loved Animal Rights. So if you're gonna have three pieces of fan mail, that's the fan mail to get."

The album's second single, "Come on Baby", was released in early November 1996, but failed to chart in any country in which it was released.

Moby toured the record as the opening act for Soundgarden on their Down on the Upside tour.[3] In an interview for Rolling Stone, Moby admitted that the failure of Animal Rights combined with the negative reception he received from Soundgarden's fanbase during the tour led him to consider quitting music.[3] However, he chose to continue his career after other artists, including Terence Trent D'Arby, Axl Rose and Bono, personally told him they enjoyed the album.[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[1]
Chicago Sun-Times 2.5/4 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly C+[13]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[14]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[15]
Mojo 3/5 stars[16]
NME 8/10[17]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[18]
Spin 4/10[19]
The Village Voice A−[20]

Animal Rights was poorly received upon its first release, however, in later years, it garnered generally positive reviews. Moby had earlier made his reputation with electronic music, but Animal Rights found him embracing punk rock and ambient music.

While most praised his attempt at diversifying, Salon critic Douglas Wolk, for instance, opined that Animal Rights "finds Moby falling on his nose" and concluded that "maybe somebody should try to convince Moby that guitars are actually made out of dead animals",[21] while Rolling Stone's Lorraine Ali felt that "this time around, he has decided to push an agenda instead of boundaries".[18] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that Animal Rights "ranks as one of the classic failed albums, right alongside Sinéad O'Connor's big-band Am I Not Your Girl."[1] Seeming to expect its critical reception, Moby added the following entreaty to the bottom of the credits page: "please listen to animal rights in its entirety at least once."

On the other hand, Drowned in Sound critic Mark Reed, in a 2002 retrospective review, suggested that Animal Rights had been unfairly lambasted by contemporary critics for being unrepresentative of Moby's capabilities and for "daring to go against the grain", describing it as "one of the most underbought, underrated, unusual albums a major recording artist has ever produced."[22] In a 2016 installment of Noisey's Rate Your Records feature, Moby named Animal Rights as his personal favorite of his studio albums.[23]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Moby, except where noted.

UK release
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Now I Let It Go"   2:08
2. "Come on Baby"   4:39
3. "Someone to Love"   2:51
4. "Heavy Flow"   1:54
5. "You"   2:33
6. "My Love Will Never Die"   4:32
7. "Soft"   3:57
8. "Say It's All Mine"   6:04
9. "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" Clint Conley 3:55
10. "Face It"   10:01
11. "Living"   6:59
12. "Love Song for My Mom"   3:40
US release
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Dead Sun"   3:40
2. "Someone to Love"   3:09
3. "Heavy Flow"   1:55
4. "You"   2:33
5. "Now I Let It Go"   2:09
6. "Come on Baby"   4:30
7. "Soft"   3:54
8. "Anima"   2:25
9. "Say It's All Mine"   6:04
10. "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" Conley 3:55
11. "Alone"   10:45
12. "Face It"   10:00
13. "Old"   3:06
14. "Living"   6:58
15. "Love Song for My Mom"   3:38
16. "A Season in Hell"   3:57

Bonus disc: Little Idiot[edit]

Fans in the UK who were early enough to the record shops were treated to a 49-minute bonus CD called Little Idiot. Consisting entirely of drum-free ambient tracks, it was the second in a line of ambient bonus CDs (following from Underwater, which came with Everything Is Wrong). Little Idiot included reworkings of tracks from Animal Rights – it also features a drawing of Moby's character "Little Idiot", who would later appear on various music videos and single and album covers.

No. Title Length
1. "Degenerate" 3:25
2. "Dead City" 4:53
3. "Walnut" 3:06
4. "Old" 5:06
5. "A Season in Hell" 4:01
6. "Love Song for My Mom" 3:43
7. "The Blue Terror of Lawns" 3:22
8. "Dead Sun" 3:44
9. "Reject" 18:28



  1. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Animal Rights – Moby". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  2. ^ Smith, Andrew (October 15, 2000). "Definitely Moby". The Observer. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Weingarten, Christopher (July 2, 2009). ""Play" 10 Years Later: Moby's Track by Track Guide to 1999's Global Smash". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Eric Härle (25 March 2003). "Interview with ERIC HÄRLE, manager at DEF for Moby, Sonique, Röyksopp - Mar 25, 2003". HitQuarters (Interview). Interview with Kimbel Bouwman. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Moby reuniting w/ Vatican Commandos for a CT NYC hardcore show + D.I. dates, boat shows, 45 Grave, Jello & more Read More: Moby reuniting w/ Vatican Commandos for a CT NYC hardcore show + D.I. dates, boat shows, 45 Grave, Jello & more". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "120 REASONS TO LIVE: ULTRA VIVID SCENE". Magnet. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  7. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough guide to rock : [the definitive guide to more than 1200 artists and bands] (3rd ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 683. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Moby (2016). Porcelain: A Memoir. Penguin Press. ISBN 1-59420-642-2. 
  9. ^ "Moby albums charts - UK". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Moby: Charts & Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "Moby". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  12. ^ Kim, Jae-Ha (February 9, 1997). "Moby, 'Animal Rights' (Elektra)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 16, 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ Browne, David (February 21, 1997). "Animal Rights". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  14. ^ Bennun, David (September 20, 1996). "Moby: Animal Rights (Mute)". The Guardian. 
  15. ^ Scribner, Sara (February 9, 1997). "Moby, 'Animal Rights,' Elektra". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Moby: Animal Rights". Mojo (272): 109. July 2016. 
  17. ^ Oldham, James (September 21, 1996). "Moby – Animal Rights". NME. Archived from the original on September 30, 2000. Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Ali, Lorraine (January 23, 1997). "Animal Rights". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  19. ^ Hunter, James (March 1997). "Moby: Animal Rights". Spin. 12 (12): 101. Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 27, 1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  21. ^ Wolk, Douglas (March 13, 1997). "Animal Rights". Salon. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  22. ^ Reed, Mark (May 19, 2002). "Album Review: Moby – Animal Rights". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  23. ^ Lindsay, Cam (June 16, 2016). "Rank Your Records: Moby Spontaneously Ranks His Nine Records". Vice. Retrieved July 18, 2016.