World Party

Private RevolutionPrivate Revolution
Ship Of FoolsPrivate Revolution
Put The Message In The BoxGoodbye Jumbo
Way Down NowGoodbye Jumbo
Thank You WorldGoodbye Jumbo
Is It Like Today?Bang!
Call Me UpEgyptology
She’s The OneEgyptology
Here Comes The FutureDumbing Up

World Party photo 1
World Party c1990 l-r David Catlin-Birch, Chris Sharrock, Max Edie, Guy Chambers, Karl Wallinger – Chrysalis/Ensign publicity photo Kevin Westenberg



World Party playlist



Contributor: Rob Jones

Starting off in an era when classic British rock and pop textures from the 1960s had yet to set the world on fire in the age of Britpop, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Karl Wallinger mused on the future even while stylistically evoking the past.

It’s true that he also followed Prince’s well-established path in terms of funky R&B seasoning and in writing, playing, and producing his solo material all largely by himself. Even earlier, he demonstrated that he was very capable of making epic scale music while working with Mike Scott in the Waterboys up until 1985. But Wallinger’s ongoing musical project World Party that kicked off the following year established him as a singular voice.

To illustrate the point, here are 10 great World Party songs in celebration of a singular artist who passed too soon in March 2024.


On the release of 1987’s Private Revolution, Wallinger takes 1960s ideals of changing times and transformed consciousnesses and blends in the sharp knowingness of the jaded 1980s. The title track Private Revolution established Wallinger as a solo artist with something to say, mixing Prince-like funk with a Jaggeresque vocal delivery in a tune that’s unabashedly pop. And a barely 20-year-old Sinéad O’Connor on backing vocals and in the video shows that Wallinger knew talent when he heard it, too.


Built on a bluesy set of changes, lurking piano, and a big, big chorus, World Party found their biggest Stateside hit in Ship Of Fools. Wallinger lays down one of his finest vocal performances, singing save me from tomorrow as convincingly as any singer that we immediately take at their word. Annoyingly, this song remains just as relevant nearly four decades later and maybe more so as we continue our course toward the edges of sanity and into troubling territories.


As wary as he was of humanity’s course, Put The Message In The Box from 1990’s Goodbye Jumbo doesn’t let the Sixties-style idealism side down. Another big single packed with hooks, Wallinger sings effusively of hopefulness and endurance while subtly evoking his work as a musician and songwriter, packaging the message up and driving it around the world for audiences while reimagining that world as the better place it could be. Tunefully, he invites us listeners to imagine the same.


Continuing to be confronted by a world that’s becoming unrecognisable, Way Down Now is Karl Wallinger’s own version of Gimme Some Truth as it meets with a Charlatans-like groove. The song frames what it’s like to be on the outside of one’s own increasingly banal culture, full of dissatisfaction, alienation, and just a hint of woo-woo of Satanic sympathy. Another one of his songs that foresees our own era, this cut’s pop appeal is balanced with defiance and subversion.


As to that message in the box about giving the world a little bit of love, Thank You World is its fully heartfelt and irony-free realisation. With a descending melody that showcases Wallinger’s McCartney-esque pop instincts, this song offsets the worry and disappointment over what the world lacks or is becoming. Instead, it’s replete with gratitude for the simple yet profound blessing of being alive in an oasis we can call home, floating in a cosmos we don’t fully understand.


Karl Wallinger set about to distill his reading of Bertrand Russell’s “The History of Western Philosophy” to music. This culminated in Is It Like Today?, a highpoint on 1993’s Bang!. The tune explores humanity’s continuing struggle across the eons to understand our existence, set to a shimmering folk-rock lilt with a wistful and melancholy melody full of pathos. The song reminds us that as far as we’ve come, we’ve fought our demons and wrestled with our angels in every era.


With an early-Seventies country-rock feel that conjures Wild Horses and You’re A Big Girl Now all in one go, Wallinger’s Sunshine shimmers with love and gratitude experienced in single and quiet moments of hopefulness that put cynicism and gloom into healthy perspective. Thematically, he’s still pulling for the world and for humanity’s place in it in one of his most heartfelt songs. This is evidence of a profoundly mindful and self-aware songwriter balancing ire with an equal sense of wonder.


At the tail end of Britpop and Oasis’ dominance on the pop charts, Call Me Up is similarly anthemic on 1997’s Egyptology, but with a World Party nod and wink. Wallinger emphasises his Fab-ulous influences with a sweeping sonic vista and declarative lyrics worthy of Sgt. Pepper or ELO’s Out Of The Blue at very least. But the crowning jewel is the very meta middle-eight piano break that’s a gentle dig, perhaps, at the flagrant Beatles references of the period.


Mostly known in Britain as a ginormous hit for Robbie Williams, Wallinger’s original take on She’s The One reveals greater thematic depth than is often recognised. Adorned by his Lennonesque piano and plaintive voice, it goes beyond the standard love song, with the she sung about here being the same heroine he’s extolled throughout his career – the earth Herself. In this, this tune is the most World Party song in Wallinger’s catalogue; a celebration of devotion to the natural world.


By 2000’s Dumbing Up album, Wallinger was still contemplating the future and the kind of present that determines it. Here Comes The Future expresses a Prince-ly vibe coupled with trepidation and then mixed with optimism that he’s expressed so eloquently all along. Featuring his fiery lead guitar skills, this tune is a time capsule to future generations yet is also about today as we learn from the past to make that future a better place together even after we’re gone.


During his career, Karl Wallinger of World Party was often erroneously labelled as a throwback or retro songwriter because of his well-established classic pop musical references. But as he was very quick to point out, he wasn’t writing about the past. His songs were infused with keen intelligence and social awareness very much rooted in the present.

Listeners can still hear some of the hippie optimism and joy mixed in with the apprehension and anxieties of the era in which he found himself. The times informed the songs as much as Wallinger’s musical influences did. This only made his work all the more resonant and powerful.

Karl Wallinger died too soon in March 2024 at the age of 66, and with still so much to say. As a songwriter who wrote about how grateful he felt to be alive, his loss hits especially hard. Yet in that, we have a sterling example to follow to be similarly grateful.


World Party photo 2
EMI Records Ensign/Chrysalis press photo Lorenzo Agius

Karl Wallinger (1957-2024)


World Party (Wikipedia)

World Party official website (up to 2015)

Arkeology 5CD set – mostly previously unreleased material

Karl Wallinger interview on Tonight Live (YT 1993)

World Party biography (AllMusic)

Rob Jones is a music writer and blogger born in Toronto. After living in London, England for a time, he now lives in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia with his partner and their many houseplants. As a child, he followed the familiar path of falling in love with The Beatles and with AM radio hits in the 1970s and into the 1980s. He came into his own as a music fan during the new wave era, then embracing all manner of music into adulthood from 1930s country blues to Big Beat techno, while always feeling at home with indie-rock and singer-songwriter folk as his sonic homebase. He is the primary author and Editor-in-Chief of the music blog The Delete Bin. He has previously written about Martha and the Muffins, Ron Sexsmith and Joe Jackson on Toppermost.

TopperPost #1,113


  1. David Lewis
    Apr 20, 2024

    Ship of fools was a big song in Australia too. And rightly so. I am enjoying this list.

    • Rob
      Apr 20, 2024

      Happy listening, David!

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