Monday, November 20, 2006

"Ain't Gonna Come 'Til I'm Ready" / World Party

With Tower Records going out of business, I went down to the Lincoln Center store and hauled off a ton of CDs -- at 30 percent off, I could replace a lot of vinyl, or check out recent discoveries. World Party is a new find for me, though I now realize I'd seen this album, Goodbye Jumbo, in many friends' record collections -- who could miss that photo of a man in a gas mask with huge leathery black elephant ears? (It always took me a second to realize it wasn't Elvis Costello's Armed Forces.) But I saw them perform this fall downtown at Irving Plaza, and it was such a great live show that I immediately bought their new CD, Dumbing Up. Now's as good a time as any to fill in the missing albums.

When I say "they", I really mean "he", songwriter/singer Karl Wallinger; the rest of World Party changes every album. He's an impish curly-haired Welshman with infectious pop energy coming out of every pore, who'll go for an electronica disco beat one minute, a folky acoustic ballad the next, peppered with riffs and motifs lifted from the Beatles and the Stones and Dylan and the Who. In concert, Karl was completely irresistible, grinning from ear to ear, getting a kick out of the other musicians on stage, and repeating his hook lines over and over until you couldn't help but sing along, even if you didn't know the songs before. The records can't quite reproduce that delirious in-the-flesh charm, but they are certainly fine mood-enhancers.

I haven't decided yet whether I want "Ain't Gonna Come 'Til I'm Ready" to take up permanent residence in my brain, but I suspect the die is already cast. The title line is hypmotically repeated over and over and OVER, and there's really no question what kind of "coming" he's talking about, not with that languid beat and the vibrating string section and an electric guitar snaking around the horns as it builds up to climax point.

It's loaded with delicious sexual tension -- "I can see what you're all about / You make us keep it in /When we should let it out..." But when Barry White did this sort of thing, his suggestive deep voice was always a little threatening; Karl's high-pitched quavery yelp just makes all the heavy breathing fun. It sure puts the party in World Party.

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