Karl Wallinger’s quite the mini one-man-Travelling-Wilburys on his solo debut, with traces of Beatles, ELO and especially Dylan abounding. There are shades of Prince too but by and large he doesn’t wear his influences too much on his sleeve, coming up, in the main, with a highly attractive and varied set of songs.
His lyrics especially sound phoned in from Radio Bob but I mean that more as a compliment, while it’s on the musical side that he really shines, furnishing every track with a strong melody and clever production.
Highlights are the purplish pop-funk of the title track, a “Ship Of Fools” better than roughly contemporary songs of the same name by Robert Plant and Erasure and the McCartney-cribbed self-referencing “World Party” where he substitutes just one word in Macca’s “Birthday” for his chorus. The only mis-step is the unnecessary inclusion of a synth-backed over of Dylan’s lyrically dazzling but musically dreary “All I Really Want To Do”.
In truth though this is a richly varied set of catchy tunes, like watching a kaleidoscope open up through a pin-hole and great listening for any fan of good 60′s and 70′s music, which Wallinger’s himself undoubtedly is. –Jim