World Party Goodbye Jumbo
Karl Wallinger really hit his stride on Goodbye Jumbo, which has the same overly obvious influences as Private Revolution but which features more steady and substantial songs. Indeed, it’s easy to marvel at the consistent quality of the songwriting and the excellent execution of the performances, with pretty synthesizers and a wonderfully melodic guitar tone leading the way along with Wallinger’s plaintive croon. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, beautifully crafted pop album that’s aided by a clean production sound that perfectly fits the bright, buoyant material. Lyrically, Wallinger again focuses on the environment and other topics that are important to him, particularly religion and relationships, and impressively rich, mellow grooves carry the often-evocative album forward musically. Perhaps I could live without the sparse, funky “Is It Too Late?” (a poor choice for an album opener), and I’m also not a fan of the discofied “Show Me To The Top,” but otherwise I’d be hard pressed not to tout any of the other tracks. THE CLASSIC groover “Way Down Now” (which liberally borrows from the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil”) and the emininently singable “Put The Message In The Box” were minor hits and both are outstanding, but the evocative “When The Rainbow Comes,” with its gorgeous slide guitar and lyrics lifted from the Marvelettes (how in the world did Wallinger escape plagiarism charges?), the uplifting “Take It Up,” and “Sweet Soul Dream,” a sweet soul ballad on which Sinead O’Connor again guests, are almost as good. Elsewhere, “Ain’t Gonna Come ‘Till I’m Ready” is sexually explicit yet still sexy, even if there isn’t much of a melody to it (it still works, mostly ‘cause of Wallinger’s falsetto), while “And I Fell Back Alone” and “God On My Side” are sparse, solemn ballads and “Love Street” is a beautifully breathy synth ballad. Last but not least, “Thank You World” provides an uplifting, sincere signoff from a then-popular but since-neglected gem of an album that at the very least ranks as a minor classic of its type, some liberal borrowings and a duff track or two aside. Karl Wallinger is a true pro, and this is a sparkling, expertly crafted pop album by a "band" who (then and especially now) deserve a much wider audience.