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*** 1/2 WORLD PARTY "Goodbye Jumbo" E nsign/Chrysalis : Albums are rated from one star (poor) to five stars (a classic).

May 27, 1990|CHRIS WILLMAN

Karl Wallinger is no Lenny-come-lately, hippie wanna-be. Chairman of World Party as well as its sole member, Wallinger has it all over the Kravitzes of the world when it comes to being a flower child by nature.

If originality is not one of the pantheist protest singer's major virtues, his Lennonisms sound somehow endemic, not affected. And if he blatantly posits himself somewhere between the Age of Aquarius and the New Age, there's a healthy cynicism to his naivete. Or is it vice versa?

It's not just the Beatles that inspire the beat here. The slide guitar of "When the Rainbow Comes" suggests Derek & the Dominoes; the ecumenical "God on My Side" borrows its title from Dylan but its vocal style from Jeff Lynne. Elsewhere it's Prince, slinky Memphis soul, echoes of Badfinger and Donovan.

It's no petty theft, either. "Jumbo" comes together marvelously. You might wish Wallinger would let his guard down and admit you into his inner sanctum more often. But his nature-loving, celebratory side--in "Thank You World," the grass is his blanket "and the sun is my alarm"--is compelling enough to make you want to organize a Post-Modern love-in.

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