I was hoping I would enjoy today’s album, but I underestimated how much I loved “Random Access Memories” by the renowned techno-duo, Daft Punk. Back in my less enlightened days, I used to needle my son for music like this, saying “Sounds amazing, let’s watch two guys on stage push buttons on their computer.” Obviously, that was a pretty ignorant take, and even I came around to the biggest hit on this record, “Get Lucky”, featuring Pharell Williams on vocals. All of that said, I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy this entire album, which is rated #295 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
There isn’t a single song on the album I didn’t really like, and “…Give Life Back to Music” and “The Game of Love” are great openers that blend surprisingly funky guitar, omnipresent synthesizers and their modulated electronic voices. For me, the album really takes off on “Giorgio by Moroder”, a tribute to Italian electronic and disco music pioneer Giovanni Giorgio Moroder. The song starts off with Giorgio giving an autobiographical spoken overview of his life and career, and the main melody runs from there. It really got my attention with about 3 minutes remaining, when the primary melody is overtaken by guitar, bass, and live drums, bursting the song into the next dimension of music.
Other highlights include “Instant Crush”, featuring Julian Casablancas from the Strokes on vocals, “Lose Yourself to Dance”, the other track featuring Pharell, “Beyond”, “Motherboard”, “Doin’ It Right” featuring Panda Bear, and “Fragments of Time” featuring Todd Edwards, which bears an uncanny resemblance to a Steely Dan song.
Of course, “Get Lucky” still remains the centerpiece and the phenomenal mega-hit of this album. Rarely does a disco-dance track branch out with such broad appeal, and I can’t imagine many who listen to this song who aren’t captivated by its energy and allure. Sometimes new listeners need a gateway track like “Get Lucky” to pique our curiosity for more, and even it was almost a decade later, I’m grateful I jumped wholeheartedly into Daft Punk. Most, if not all of this album will be added to my master playlist, and I don’t make such statements lightly.