This group, essentially a platform for ex-Waterboy Karl Wallinger, put out a 1986 album, Private Revolution, that contained a few intriguing songs, including “Ship of Fools.” But it in no way prepared us for the rich songfest that is Goodbye Jumbo. (As for that title, Wallinger poses on the cover in a gas mask and huge elephant ears.)
Musically he’s all over the map and conquering territory wherever he lands. There’s the disgruntled soul of “Ain’t Gonna Come Till I’m Ready,” the simple meditation of “God on My Side,” which recalls the solo work of John Lennon. the bluesy bite of “Is It Too Late?,” the electrified Dylanesque wail of “Way Down Now,” the shambling, slightly psychedelic lament of “When the Rainbow Comes,” the white-boy funk of “Show Me to the Top,” and the countrified folk of “Put the Message in the Box,” which contains the album’s best vocal harmonies.
Today’s machine-tooled albums often sound as if they came out untouched by human hands. But there’s a loose, anachronistic style to this collection that suggests a man in an instrument-filled studio with a few mates dropping by to help. While Wallinger doesn’t have a great voice, it is curiously insinuating and unaffected. He writes intelligent, emotional songs set to pretty melodies. Okay, goodbye. Jumbo, but hello, World Party. (Ensign/Chrysalis)