“Ship Of Fools”—subtitled in some places as “Save Me From Tomorrow”, after the hook in the chorus—was an infectious surprise in the darkening winter months of 1986 to 1987, a strolling piano sub-boogie with a vocal that sounded like Jagger channeling Dylan. It was one of the better developed tracks on Private Revolution, which spilled his other obvious influence, that of the recently de-Revolutioned Prince. Drum machines had only progressed so far at that point, and that dated sound colors both the title track and “Making Love (To The World)”. The blatant homage is mostly out of the way with those, so the lengthy follow-up single “All Come True” delivers more mystery in only a few chords. “Dance Of The Hoppy Lads” is a brief instrumental before the smooth soul of “It Can Be Beautiful (Sometimes)”.
Dylan dominates side two, from the outright parody of “The Ballad Of The Little Man” to the straight cover of “All I Really Want To Do”. In between is the countryish “Hawaiian Island World”, notable now mostly for the debut backing vocals (and one scream) by one Sinead O’Connor. The song “World Party” likely came before the band had a name, with a chorus borrowed from the Beatles. Finally, “It’s All Mine” lopes through an ecological lament, but only if you’re paying attention to the lyrics.
Private Revolution would sound better today if it were produced better, but that’s assuming that more sophisticated instruments wouldn’t subtract from the charm. It would have been easy to expect this to be a one-hit wonder, and maybe he’s faded into the background, but Karl Wallinger would have a lot more to offer, in his own sweet time.
World Party Private Revolution (1986)—3½