World Party: Ship of Fools
The second Star Maker Machine theme was perversely, “My First,” and it was designed to have people post about the first 45, LP, cassette, CD and digital download they ever bought with their own money. After all these years, I can’t remember which was the first 45 or LP I used my own money for, and I have no recollection what my first download was, but for some reason, I do remember my first CD, World Party’s Private Revolution, which was released in 1987. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even own a CD player at that point, but I knew that I was going to be getting one shortly. I saw it on sale, used, in a small record store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and figured, why not—I knew it was good.
It was a big step for me. I had many, many records—more than is probably healthy, but I also saw that the music world was moving toward the digital, and I knew that I would be following. I’ve never been an audiophile, so I won’t weigh in on the “vinyl through a good system sounds better than CDs” debate, but I did appreciate that CDs didn’t scratch (as easily) as records.
World Party was really just a solo project from Karl Wallinger, who played most of the instruments (although a pre-fame Sinead O’Connor and Waterboy Anthony Thistlewaite contributed a little), and this album, his debut, had a nice pop feel to it, with clear Beatles/ELO and Prince influences. There also was a message of world improvement, and what can be bad about that? “Ship of Fools” was a minor hit in the U.S. and U.K. and a slightly bigger one in Australia. It took Wallinger a few years to release the more successful Goodbye Jumbo, and he spaced out 3 more albums, the last of which was released in 2000. Since then he has recovered from a brain aneurysm (!), worked on films and other musical projects, and toured.
After buying Private Revolution, and an actual CD player, my CD buying ramped up and my LP buying decreased. At some point, I started to replace LPs with CD’s often used from eBay. At a certain point, I stopped replacing the needle on my turntable, and following a renovation of our house, which eliminated the shelves where I had stored my albums, they have remained in boxes in my basement waiting, for, I don’t know what. Getting rid of them seems complicated, because I suspect that most of the collection is worthless for various reasons, and I know that I have a certain sentimental hesitancy to part with a collection that I spent time, money and effort amassing through my youth.
I now find myself buying more digital downloads than CDs, so that collection, which supplanted the vinyl, and is currently bursting out of its shelf space is growing much more slowly. (And the digital collection is pushing the limits of my iPod Classic).
Although as I mentioned, I cannot recall the first song I ever downloaded digitally, because I admittedly partook of the early smorgasbord of Napster and similar questionable services, I do know that the first song I downloaded from eMusic was a song called “AYSO” by #Poundsign#, a tune about the soccer organization to which I have devoted an incredible amount of time over the past nearly two decades, and which I continue to serve, even though my kids have long since stopped playing.