After a stint as musical director of a West End performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Wallinger joined a funk band dubbed The Out, before signing on with Mike Scott's Waterboys in 1984 to record the LP A Pagan Place. After 1985's This Is the Sea, Wallinger departed to form World Party, a one-man project heavily indebted to Revolver-era Beatlesque pop modified for the eco-generation; recorded at Wallinger's home, his debut album Private Revolution from late-1986 scored a UK Top 40 hit with the infectious lead single "Ship of Fools." After a long layoff (during which time Wallinger aided Sinéad O'Connor in recording her 1988 debut, The Lion and the Cobra), World Party returned in 1990 with Goodbye Jumbo, another successful collection offering the hit song "Way Down Now" and the single "Put the Message in the Box", together with songwriting collaborator Guy Chambers. After the 1991 stopgap EP Thank You World (including a cover of the Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"), Wallinger recruited guitarist David Catlin-Birch and drummer Chris Sharrock as full-fledged members for 1993's big hit album Bang!, which reached the number two position on the British album charts and re-launched Wallinger as a hero of the Glastonbury and green crowds. After 1997's Egyptology, Wallinger took a three-year break from World Party, returning in 2000 with the less successful Dumbing Up.
World Party's music is hard to categorise, being a tuneful but sophisticated pop and rock combination, with elements of folk, funk, R n B and soul thrown in with a lot of sound samples to give a "recycled" feel in accordance with the band's "green" image. Wallinger cites as influences The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Junior Walker, Neil Young (that love of sublime guitar solos), and Prince (most obviously on the Goodbye Jumbo track "Love Street" and Dumbing Up's "Here Comes the Future"). Wallinger sings and plays most of the instruments himself, using multitracking to create a polished studio sound. Lyrically, many of the songs feature thoughtful and occasionally political sentiments.
The first album was Private Revolution, released in 1987, which yielded two minor hits in the UK, "Private Revolution" and "Ship of Fools." The latter was to reach number 4 in Australia and number 27 in the U.S. (when the album charted), but it wasn't until the follow up, Goodbye Jumbo (1990) that World Party came to more widespread notice. This album yielded two significant hits - "Put the Message in the Box" (#39 in the UK) and "Way Down Now". Goodbye Jumbo was voted album of the year by Q magazine and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance in the USA. The influence of British Invasion rock on World Party's music was much more obvious on this effort, from the "hoo hoo" chorus on "Way Down Now" coming straight from the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," to the album photography that was laid out in the same manner as the promotional poster from the Beatles' so-called "White Album."
Goodbye Jumbo was followed a year later by Thank You World, which included a title track plus two remixes and a live version, as well as other previously unreleased songs, including a cover of the Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun."
The third all-new album, Bang! (1993), continued the band's creative borrowing of classic rock tropes, using the bridge from The Who's "Getting In Tune" for the track "Sunshine." Bang was a bigger success in chart-placing terms, reaching number 2 in the UK album chart, with the track "Is It Like Today?" (#19 on the UK Singles Chart) also becoming a successful single in Europe. Sales, however, were already on the slide.
In 1994, World Party recorded "When You Come Back To Me" for the highly successful Reality Bites soundtrack.
Their fourth album, Egyptology (1996), written following the death of Wallinger's mother, was commercially disastrous, although "She's The One" won an Ivor Novello award and was subsequently recorded by Robbie Williams. Shortly after the 2000 release of the album 'Dumbing Up', however, Wallinger was struck down by an aneurysm that left him unable to speak.
After a long rehabilitation, Wallinger re-emerged onto the scene in 2006. With his back catalogue reclaimed from EMI, a distribution deal was struck (via his own Seaview label) with Universal, and he played his first live show in a decade at the Austin-based South by Southwest festival. He played additional US dates in 2006. Big Blue Ball, a joint project with Peter Gabriel with production work by Stephen Hague (Pet Shop Boys, New Order) has also been released.
Karl delighted his Australian fans in September 2007 when World Party supported Steely Dan in their first ever live tour of Australia.
The hope was to release a new CD as the band started their tour with Steely Dan, but the new songs have been delayed into 2009.
- Private Revolution (1986)
- Goodbye Jumbo (1990)
- Bang! (1993)
- Egyptology (1997)
- Dumbing Up (2000)
- Dumbing Up (2006) (limited edition with bonus DVD)
- Best in Show (2007) A greatest hits collection
- "Ship of Fools" (1987): #4 in Australia; #27 in the US, #42 in the UK
- "Put the Message in the Box" (1990): #39 in the UK; #8 in the US Modern Rock chart
- "Way Down Now" (1990): #1 in the US Modern Rock chart, #66 in the UK
- "Thank You World" (1991): #68 UK
- "Is It Like Today" (1993): #19 in the UK; #52 in Germany; #5 in the US Modern Rock chart
- "Give it All Away": (1993): #43 UK
- "All I Gave" (1993): #37 in the UK
- "Beautiful Dream" (1997): #31 in the UK
- Acoustic 05 (2005, Echo) - "She's the One"
Notes and references
Biography from Wikipedia