Four out of Five Stars
Karl Wallinger had a storied career as a member of the Waterboys prior to forming World Party in the mid-’80s, although admittedly he had a lot to live up to. Nevertheless, by the time Egyptology was released in the summer of 1997, he had clearly hit his stride. There would be one more album to come, Dumbing Up, released three years later, but Egyptology marked the high point in his trajectory and became the album that Wallinger could rest his reputation on.
A new vinyl re-release adds to the substantial heft that the album originally brought to bear. With 15 tracks on the original release, the five live tracks added to the reissue adds extra weight to an album that was already flush with both quality and quantity. It had its share of standouts—“Is It Time” and “Beautiful Dream,” both replayed beautifully as part of the live add-ons, “Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb,” which sounds like an ELO outtake, and “Hercules,” another bonus entry in concert form, that finds Wallinger and company doing their best Pink Floyd impression.
Nevertheless, the original release was not a commercial success and it eventually led to a riff between Wallinger and his record label over the latter’s role in passing the song “She’s the One” to Robbie Williams, who ultimately won an Ivor Novello Award for his performance. The royalties proved beneficial as well, but in retrospect, it’s unfortunate that World Party didn’t get the credit it deserved for what is rightfully described as a supreme musical masterpiece.
As a result, this reintroduction may finally get the album the credit it was due the first time around. Those that failed to hear it back then, or to appreciate it in its original incarnation as it appeared 25 years ago now have the opportunity to revisit it in expanded form and soak up a rich array of melodies that sound just as fresh and vital now as they did back then. “The Whole of the Night” sounds like it could be a radio-ready hit, while songs such as “Strange Groove,” “Always” and “Piece of Mind” might even find a fit in a current context if given a beat-heavy remix.
In short, Egyptology is worth rediscovering.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc