(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Ship Of Fools (Save Me From Tomorrow)” | WORLD PARTY | 1987.

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.

Welsh musician / songwriter / producer Karl Wallinger always had an interest in music, listening to artists like The Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and the L.A. Rock band Love (The Damned did a brilliant cover of Love’s “Alone Again Or” in 1987).

After a brief stint in the late 70s with a band called Pax (featuring two future members of The Alarm), Karl eventually became the musical director for (London’s) West End (theatre) production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, then he was in a funk band called “The Out” (which I honestly can’t picture), and after (which I can totally see), a stint with The Waterboys starting in 1984.album-this-is-the-sea

Karl Wallinger stayed with The Waterboys for two albums, A PAGAN PLACE and THIS IS THE SEA, providing support on piano, organ, percussion and backing vocals.  THIS IS THE SEA was certified Silver in the United Kingdom, and generated what would become (in a 1991 reissue) their biggest U.K. hit, “The Whole Of The Moon,” which reached No. 3 on the U.K. Singles chart.

After THIS IS THE SEA, Karl left The Waterboys to form his own band, World Party, of which he is the sole member.  World Party’s debut album, PRIVATE REVOLUTION, featured several session musicians and an Irish newcomer, Sinéad O’Connor, who provided backing vocals on the album’s title track and one other song, “Hawaiian Island World.”  Another song from PRIVATE REVOLUTION, “World Party,” would make an appearance in a version by The Waterboys on their next album, the brilliant 1988 release, FISHERMAN’S BLUES.

private revolution

Also from PRIVATE REVOLUTION came a surprise hit called “Ship Of Fools (Save Me From Tomorrow).”  It was the album’s first single, which eventually found its way to American shores and made its debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 96 on Valentine’s Day 1987. 

The climb for “Ship Of Fools” on the Hot 100 was slow at first, but picked up, and in early April 1987, it debuted in the Top 40.  By the end of April, it spent a week at its peak position of No. 27, and would go on to spend 15 total weeks on the Hot 100. 

ship of fools

Though Karl’s band namesake is still going strong today, this would be the only time World Party would grace the Hot 100.  “Ship Of Fools” would also find its way to No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, No. 4 in Australia and No. 42 on the U.K. Singles chart.

After PRIVATE REVOLUTION, Karl and World Party continued to record, including 1990’s acclaimed GOODBYE JUMBO album (featuring “Put The Message In The Box” and “Way Down Now,” the latter of which spent five weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart in June / July 1990), 1993’s BANG!, 1997’s EGYPTOLOGY (which included the wonderful and award-winning “She’s The One,” featured in the 1997 film, THE MATCHMAKER, starring Janeane Garofalo and Denis Leary), and 2000’s DUMBING UP. 

You might also remember one of World Party’s songs, “When You Come Back To Me” (inspired by David Bowie’s 1975 hit, “Young Americans”), which was featured in the 1993 film, REALITY BITES (Karl scored the film as well). arkeology

Karl sadly suffered a brain aneurysm in February 2001 that left him unable to speak, but after five years of rehabilitation, he returned and played his first show in a decade at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.  He got his catalog back from EMI and re-released his albums.  In 2012, World Party released ARKEOLOGY, a massive five-CD, 70-song collection of new material, live songs and covers.  It was, like all of World Party’s other work, well-received.

Though World Party was never really an international success, it didn’t seem to bother Karl Wallinger.  After the aneurysm, he once described his “renewed talent” as “overcompensating, so it’s either the best I’ve ever played or I’ll completely balls it up.” 

I admit here that, in 1987, World Party and “Ship Of Fools” didn’t really do anything for me at the time.  But, since then, and to borrow from the song itself, I’m so very glad I finally set “sail to the place on the map, from which no one has ever returned…”      

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_BoAXopS54

world party 1987

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song of the day – “Fools In Love” | JOE JACKSON | 1979.

During the 1980s and late 70s, there were some cool “Fool”-related songs I consider favorites to this day, like Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool,” “Find Another Fool” by Quarterflash, “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” by Chris Rea, Def Leppard’s “Foolin’,” “Fool’s Gold” by The Stone Roses, “Ship Of Fools” by World Party, “What A Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers, my favorite Led Zeppelin song of all-time, “Fool In The Rain,” and even a band out of Ipswich, Massachusetts named The Fools, who had a couple of minor hits, including “It’s A Night For Beautiful Girls.”  In honor of April Fool’s Day, my “song of the day” is by the amazing Joe Jackson, and is a song I really love – no fooling – “Fools In Love.”look sharp

“Fools In Love” is from Joe’s brilliant 1979 debut album, LOOK SHARP!, the same album that features such gems as “One More Time,” “Sunday Papers,” “Got The Time,” the title track and his first big hit, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”

My favorite version of “Fools In Love” is a 7-minute masterpiece that appears on LIVE 1980/86, which happens to be my favorite live album of the 80s (Sting’s BRING ON THE NIGHT and Talking Heads’ STOP MAKING SENSE round out my Top 3).  That version of “Fools In Love” was recorded live on May 8, 1983 at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia, featured on his 1982-1983 NIGHT AND DAY tour. live 1980:86

My favorite cover version of “Fools In Love” is by singer / songwriter / musician Inara George – one half of The Bird And The Bee – and was released, oddly enough, on the 2005 GREY’S ANATOMY, VOLUME 1 soundtrack (sorry, not a fan of the show, but I am a fan of Inara and this cover).

“Fools In Love” didn’t chart anywhere, but in the early days of CMJ (College Music Journal; or, the college music equivalent of BILLBOARD magazine), it reached No. 9 on the CMJ College Radio Tracks chart.

fools in love

Joe Jackson has always had smart lyrics, but I love how, in the song, Joe is ranking on all these people who are in love (“Are there any creatures more pathetic?”), and that they are losers and fools for being in love (“Fools in love they think they’re heroes / Cause they get to feel more pain / I say fools in love are zeros”), but then reveals that he’s really just referring to himself…

Always been a big fan of Joe Jackson.  In 1995, I had the option to see R.E.M. (just before Bill Berry left the band) or Joe Jackson, and chose Joe instead.  I would have loved to see R.E.M., but I never regretted the decision to see Joe, and loved watching him perform. 

Joe was touring in support of his 1994 classical-flavored album, NIGHT MUSIC, and people started shouting out some of the names of his hits.  He pulls up to the mic and quietly said, “I don’t do requests.”  It was brilliant.  He later got to the hits people wanted to hear, but I just thought it was cool that he was there to do his thing and promote the album he wanted to promote, and did it on his terms. 

I’ve always thought Joe Jackson was a bit under-appreciated here in the U.S., but not with me.  I should know.  I should know, because, I’ll always be a fool in love with Joe and his music…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cagVl2qdCnI

joe jackson band

song of the day – “Sweet Thing” | THE WATERBOYS | 1988.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  On this first St. Patrick’s Day of my little bloggy thing here, I’ve got a sweet cover of a sweet song – “Sweet Thing” by The Waterboys.

Mike ScottThe Waterboys is comprised of members hailing from Ireland, Scotland and England, led by Edinburgh’s Mike Scott, and whose past members have included famed Irish accordionist and fiddler Sharon Shannon, Ian McNabb of Icicle Works and Karl Wallinger, the Welsh force behind World Party.

The band had been releasing albums since 1983, but I first learned of The Waterboys in January 1990 upon my return to college at the University of Maine at Farmington.  My French roommate introduced me to the band and their brilliant 1988 album, FISHERMAN’S BLUES.  It was love at first listen for me, and for many other fans as well, as it was the band’s biggest-selling album.

I’m sure I’ll highlight the full FISHERMAN’S BLUES album as an “album of the week” at some point, mainly because it deserves it, but for now, I just want to talk about a very “Sweet Thing.” 

fisherman's blues

“Sweet Thing” was written by Northern Ireland music legend Van Morrison, released in 1968 on his second album, ASTRAL WEEKS.  The version by The Waterboys clocks in at over 7 minutes,  and turned into a medley with an impromptu cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” which Mike Scott apparently sang out of the blue while recording.  And it really works. 

With no disrespect to Van Morrison, I actually prefer this sweet cover by The Waterboys to his original.  Some songs are just like that for me.  This one will always be like that for me.  “Sweet Thing” is one of the sweetest parts of a truly incredible album, and for this St. Patrick’s Day for 2016, I couldn’t think of a more spirited or sweeter song I wanted to share…  Sláinte!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be3OkvBZaIY

the waterboys