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Moby was once in a bad rock ‘n’ roll cover band. “I can still to this day,” he said in a recent interview, “do Eric Clapton songs.” Judging by his latest release, Animal Rights, Moby can do Johnny Rotten, Violent Femmes, and Soundgarden as well. Adapting ’80s hardcore, regurgitated punk, and stainless-steel electronics, Moby works hard to rock. Too hard. Songs like “Soft” and “Heavy Flow” are the kind of AOR smut that Beavis and Butt-head gleefully skewer. Apparently, Moby’s vegan diet extends to his meatless album. An incredibly boring recital of Mission of Burma’s “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” offers nothing of the spirit and flair of his previous effort, Everything Is Wrong. The last four songs, ambient filler, feel tacked on, superfluous. Really, only one song on Animal Rights has staying power: Innovative, sexy, a remarkable hybrid of all that is techno and all that is rock, “Come on Baby” is the song Bono wishes he had written. “Let me feel my gift to God grow,” Moby pants (this is as good as it gets). Why is Moby, a true evangelist and pied piper of techno, switching to rock? Maybe he’s raving mad, bored with the electronica scene and the kids who feed it. Maybe he dusted off some Pink Floyd records and got inspired. Or maybe, as Samu, on his own Moby web page surmises, “He is now star, and he do what ever he likes.”Cathy Alter