Karl Wallinger in his prime, wrote the best pop songs. His music was ear-friendly, but he used more than primary colors in painting his compositions.
Wallinger got his start as a member of The Waterboys, Mike Scott’s band, working on their first three albums before starting World Party.
Although Wallinger only released one album in the 1980’s, I’m going let him straddle the decades (that’s my superpower).
In 1986, Private Revolution, the first World Party album, was released to very fine reviews. The album, essentially Wallinger on almost every instrument, cracked the Billboard top 40, which was impressive given the homemade nature of the collection. A single, “Ship of Fools,” reaches number 27 in America. Not bad for a first effort.
Goodbye Jumbo arrived in 1990, another Wallinger solo effort. It was named as Album of the Year by Q magazine, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. However, it only reached 73 on Billboard, which is a mystery considering the quality of collection.
“Way Down Now” and “Put the Message in the Box” were high charting singles.
Wallinger expanded the group to include a drummer and guitarist for Bang!, released in 1993.
“Is it Like Today?” was a Top 40 single, but the album only reached 126 on the chart.
Pop songwriters always hope someone will compare them to the Beatles, which is the ultimate compliment. Wallinger was often noted for his smart lyrics and ability to lace his songs with catchy hooks, that Beatlesque quality. Wallender also embedded in his lyrics a social consciousness, although is was often subdued in presentation.
Egyptology came out in 1997 and didn’t sell well, which Wallinger blames on his record company, who instead of releasing his version of “She’s the One,” gave it to another singer who had a big hit with it. In reacting to the snub, Wallinger took the high road, acknowledging the financial reward that came his way from the writer’s royalty, especially during a debilitating illness.
Dumbing Up released in 2000, was on Wallinger’s own label. While praised as another strong performance, it was limited in sales given the lack of a major label push.
In 2012, Walledner released Arkeology, a multi-disc set of 70 tracks, including some newly recorded ones, live tracks, demos and selected album tracks from his 25-year career. This collection is a true treasure.
Wallinger tours only sporadically and he hasn’t released any new music since Arkeology. His website hasn’t had any updates in four years. I sent him an email so I’m hopeful he will make contact.
There are used copies of World Party CDs on eBay and at your used record store. Buy one or two, and listen to them from beginning to end. It’s worth it.