Fans of French electronic duo Daft Punk may have been shocked when the group suddenly announced their dissolution at the start of 2021. But the robots haven't really powered down: a year later, they digitally expanded debut album Homework for its 25th anniversary, compiled an album of remixes from the era, and even showed off some limited, never-before-seen footage from an early concert following Homework's release (which shockingly showed members Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo and Thomas Bangalter out of their signature helmets.
Now, 10 years after the release of what would become their final album, Daft Punk will reissue the acclaimed Random Access Memories with a trove of rare and unreleased bonus material. The package will be available May 12 from Columbia Records, available as a 2CD or 3LP set.
Random Access Memories came eight years after the group's last proper studio album Human After All (2005), but the duo was hardly inactive. One of their better-known songs, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," was sampled and reworked by rapper Kanye West for his chart-topping single "Stronger." (The robots appeared behind West for a live performance of the track on the Grammy Awards in 2008.) In 2010, the duo created a killer electronic/orchestral hybrid score for TRON: Legacy, a long-awaited sequel to the Disney sci-fi cult classic.
Having pushed house and electronic dance music further into the mainstream with their work thus far, Daft Punk consciously looked back with Random Access Memories. Their electronic elements were augmented with a murderer's row of legendary session musicians, including guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., bassist Nathan East, drummers John "J.R." Robinson and Omar Hakim, and even a full orchestra to provide a solid throwback disco style. The artists they brought in as featured guests ran the gamut of disco, pop and rock greatness: a monologue by Giorgio Moroder, haunting vocals from The Strokes' Julian Casablancas ("Instant Crush"), Animal Collective co-founder Panda Bear ("Doin' It Right"), and songwriting giant Paul Williams ("Touch").
But the signature masterstroke was lead single "Get Lucky," propelled by an infectious rhythm from East and Hakim, confident vocals from Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes, and an instantly-recognizable guitar groove courtesy of CHIC's Nile Rodgers. The track broke single-day streaming records on Spotify - this author listened to it at least 32 times on release day - and topped the charts in nearly 20 countries. (It bizarrely settled for No. 2 in the U.S. and Canada.) The album similarly topped the charts worldwide and helped Daft Punk take home five Grammy Awards in 2014, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for "Get Lucky." All in all, not the worst way to go out - although the group produced and guested on The Weeknd's chart-topping "Starboy" and the Top 5 follow-up "I Feel It Coming" in 2016, well before they hung it up for good.
The expanded Random Access Memories includes nine bonus tracks, including "Horizon" (included on Japanese pressings of the original album), the version of "Touch" heard in the group's farewell video, early takes of songs and a few unfinished ideas as well. You'll find pre-order links and the full track list below.
Random Access Memories (10th Anniversary Edition) (Columbia, 2023)
CD 1/LP 1-2: Original album (released as Columbia 88883 71686-1/2, 2013)
- Give Life Back to Music
- The Game of Love
- Giorgio by Moroder
- Instant Crush (feat. Julian Casablancas)
- Lose Yourself to Dance (feat. Pharrell Williams)
- Touch (feat. Paul Williams)
- Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams)
- Fragments of Time (feat. Todd Edwards)
- Doin' It Right (feat. Panda Bear)
CD 2/LP 3: Bonus material (previously unreleased except Track 2, from Sony Records Int'l SICP-3817 (Japan), 2013)
- Horizon Ouverture
- Give Life Back to Music (Studio Outtakes)
- Infinity Repeating (2013 Demo)
- Get Lucky (Early Take)
- Prime (2012 Unfinished)
- Lose Yourself to Dance (Vocoder Tests)
- The Writing of Fragments of Time
- Touch (2021 Epilogue)