His prolific genius is unveiled next week (April 10) on Arkeology, a career-spanning 5 CD collection of 70 never-before-heard tracks packaged in a unique Any Year Diary intended for the purchasers’ personal use. Arkeology is at once a new album — with songs finished as recently as 2011 - and a treasure trove of rare studio takes, live sessions, concert recordings, radio interviews, covers, demos, B-sides and unreleased and until-now-unheard tracks culled from the band's 25-year history.
In my estimation, Karl has always been ahead of the curve, and by invoking some of the vintage music and styles that informs all of us baby boomers, punk/not punk/post punk and pop/populist, the World Party canon earns a place in the genre called "timeless." On Arkeology, you will find a cover of Little Richard's "Lucille," informed indeed by The Beatles' cover - and in taking a page from Sir Paul and his love of music hall styles, Wallinger also delivers a McCartney/Ray Davies/Noel Coward music hall style ditty, "The Good Old Human Race."
Back in the 90s, when I was working for the largest media company in the world, and World Party brought their tour to the USA, I had an opportunity to capture on video some of Karl & band's musical riffing on their own songs, and also a brief Q&A where I learned that Karl had been asked to provide the songs/soundtrack to the Ed Burns 1996 movie, She's The One (he had already been the musical director for Reality Bites) . The production ended up going with Tom Petty, and Karl told me that the benefit of that was that he got to keep his songs. Grown up boy band crooner, Robbie Williams had a hit in 1999 with the track, "She's The One." Arkeology features a live recording of this soaring ballad, which I prefer to Williams' cover.
A new song, "Everybody's Falling in Love" reminds me of something John Lennon might written and recorded. Another new track, "Photograph" was recorded over a period of years (17!). It mixes beats and piano and lyrically utilises the trope of a photograph to convey observations and emotions. It has the hit potential of another sprawling pop piano elegiac musing, Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is." It is not like that song - but it is as epochal/era defining and really, who can resist the musical journey that kind of piano part offers? From "Layla" and its fabulous Jim Gordon coda to Hornsby to Karl Wallinger's "Photograph," there are dots to be connected, disparate though they might be, but undeniable in their power to grab your attention and make you nod your head, tap your feet or keep time with the metronome in your head.
The power of comfort and familiarity combined with the joy and surprise of the new are two key elements to building a box set/career retrospective package and the World Party Arkeology succeeds on both levels.
Not included in the sprawling, gorgeous box set is a fave song of mine from Bang! I mention it only to bolster my assertion of Karl Wallinger being ahead of the curve... seriously, this just sprang up while I was driving.... in the song "Give It All Away," he sings "Hypocrites and zealots are struggling for the throne. King and queens and presidents younger than the Stones." Bang! was released in 1993, and recorded between 1991 and 1992. What I'm saying is that Bill Clinton, the first Baby Boomer President of the USA (born 1946) had not yet been elected when the song was written, and though he's younger than Mick n Keef by the blink of an eye, he's in their generation.... I'm referring to Tony Blair (born 1953) and Barack Obama (born 1961 - younger than me AND my sister! younger than Wallinger too).
The song (and pop culture itself, in a meta sense) imagines a time when we will have leaders younger than our idols... it imagines a time that is different from whatever the present is... a time that makes one scratch their head and re-think their journey. It inspires you to be inspired.
"How appropriate," I've been thinking the last couple months as I've listened to the selection of tracks from Arkeology so kindly provided to me by the kind folks at Shore Fire Media, "that Karl's called this collection 'arkeology,' for it is about digging up and imagining the future via the past." It also makes sense of the "any year" calendar in which the box set is encased. You put the message in the box. “The reason it’s all inside an any-year diary,” Wallinger said via press release, “is because I just got so sick of the CD packaging. I’m glad the whole CD format is dying, but I really didn’t want to put something out that was only digital.”
I have a suggestion: Vinyl?
Arkeology is affordably priced and available from all the usual suspects. The release date is Tuesday, April 10.
Track listing :
Disc 1 : Waiting Such A Long, Nothing Lasts Forever, Everybody’s Falling In Love, Where Are You Going When You Go?, Photograph, Everybody Dance Now, Closer Still, I Want To Be Free, I’m Only Dozing, No More Crying, Interview/Sweet Soul Dream (live)..
Disc 2 : Lucille, The Good Old Human Race, Put The Message In The Box (live), Trouble Down Here, Basically, Silly Song, Man We Was Lonely, She’s The One (live), Ship Of Fools (live), Mystery Girl, This Is Your World Speaking, All The Love That’s Wasted, Lost In Infinity, New Light…
Disc 3 : Words, Dear Prudence, Call Me Up (live), Like A Rolling Stone (live), Sooner Or Later, Love Street (live), Time On My Hands, Who Are You (live), Sweetheart Like You, Another World, You’re Beautiful, But Get Out Of My Life, Living Like The Animals, Stand (live), Thank You World…
Disc 4 : Break Me Again, Baby, Ship Of Fools (live), Put The Message (live), When Did You Leave Heaven?, Nature Girl, It’s A Pity You Let Go, My Pretty One, De Ho De Hay, We Are The Ones, World Groove / Mind Guerilla, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Kuwait City, Do What I Want, All We Need Is Everything, Outro… Disc 5 : Mystery Girl (early version), What Is Love All About (alternate drum), I Hope It All Works Out For You, And God Said (long version), It Ain’t Gonna Work, Another One, I Am Me, It’s Going To Be Alright, In Another World, Thank You World (live), Cry Baby Cry, Temple Of Love, Fixing A Hole, Way Down Now (live), Change The World (demo)