Despite what you see in the video, World Party was essentially a one-man effort. Karl Wallinger had been with the Waterboys in the mid 80s for a couple of disks; I remember hearing “The Whole of the Moon” a few times during my senior year in college, thinking it was almost a fantastic song. Wallinger split after This is the Sea to set up his own shop.
I was a big fan of “Ship of Fools (Save Me from Tomorrow)” in real time, snagging Private Revolution, the album from which it came, in that spring of 87. It was the only time World Party touched the charts, getting to #27 (it’s #33 this week). The song’s theme definitely resonates with me these days, more than I think it did 30 years ago.
Wallinger’s second album, Goodbye Jumbo, came three years later and is absolutely exquisite. Sure, there’s a hippie vibe to much of his work, but 60s and 70s influences of many types abound. “Way Down Now” and “Put the Message in the Box” were the tunes on Jumbo to get some degree of airplay, though there are other incredibly rewarding songs alongside those.
It’s not clear to me if Mike Scott, frontman for the Waterboys, and Wallinger were BFFs after their parting of the ways. However, Scott did write this fine song for Fisherman’s Blues, the Waterboys’ first album after Karl left.