World Party - Private Revolution
I bought this album solely on the strength of the connections with the fantastic Waterboys. Karl Wallinger had left the band, presumably (and justifiably so as it turned out) fearful of the direction Mike Scott was taking the band. He seems to have set out to recreate the Waterboys as they had originally been constituted, a band who had some big songs, with big themes and played them in a space filling manner known as the Big Music.
Sadly, Wallinger did not manage to pull it off. This album is really nothing like the Waterboys in terms of execution. In terms of the concept, the idea of putting a theme into the music, well there may be a case for it. But the influences here are myriad and diverse. There is as much Bob Dylan as anything - Wallinger even covers one of Dylan's songs; the Stones and the Beatles vie for a place at the table of antecedents. In theory, Karl Wallinger had the ability to make something fantastic, something unique. What I cannot understand is why he failed.
A lot of the underlying theme of the music is an interest and a concern for nature. I suppose this is not unreasonable as the Green Movement, as a political force, was finally beginning to take off around this time. Wallinger clearly wanted to make a statement (or perhaps one statement out of many). To my mind he never really managed it.
"Ship of Fools" is an excellent song and deservedly regarded as the highlight of the album. The rest of the tracks are disappointing. If Mike Scott hadn't been such a plonker and taken the Waterboys off on some ridiculous tangent, there would probably never have been the need for any of this. Karl Wallinger may have left before the disappointing Fisherman's Blues spoilt what the Waterboys could have been, but he surely could see it coming.
It is, in some ways, an attempt to recreate the Waterboys effect - the first three albums - in a new environment without actually being anything like the Waterboys. Scott had gone more towards Celtic folk-inspired ballads, and Karl Wallinger, though he left before Fishermans Blues could ruin the obvious potential the Waterboys had, he surely could see the writing on the wall. He plainly felt that Waterboys should have continued in the same vein as had brought the success they had so far achieved. World Party is an attempt to do just that. Where it fails, and fails so spectacularly in my view, is in its inability to hold onto the essence of what made the early Waterboys - the "Big Music" sound. Because of this it lacks the power and the depth of the early Waterboys. It fails to inspire and send you to the heights of "The Pan Within", "Spirit" or "Red Army Blues". For this reason it is a poor musical footnote to a lost potential. Whatever Wallinger would go on to achieve, he would have to abandon the similarities with the Waterboys and strike out on his own.
Perhaps the problem is, as this review demonstrates, Wallinger's associations overshadow his own actions. Those of us who bought the album hoping for Waterboys Mk. I were to be disappointed and remained so. I have never checked out anything of World Party after this, perhaps because my musical hiatus occurred within a few short years of this album's release. That is an oversight I am going to rectify.
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