After a stint as musical director of a West End performance of The Rocky Horror Show, Wallinger joined a funk band dubbed "The Out", before signing on with Mike Scott's Waterboys in 1984 to record the album A Pagan Place. After 1985's This Is the Sea, Wallinger departed to form World Party.
Recorded at Wallinger's home in 1986, his debut album Private Revolution yielded two minor hits in the UK, "Private Revolution" and "Ship of Fools". "Ship Of Fools", however, did much better outside the UK it reached no. 4 in Australia, no. 21 in New Zealand, and no. 27 in the US, in the process becoming the act's only major international hit.
Between World Party's first and second albums, Wallinger aided Sinéad O'Connor in recording her 1988 debut, The Lion and the Cobra. O'Connor, then an unknown, had appeared as a guest on World Party's first album. She would go on to appear as a guest on the second LP as well.
Goodbye Jumbo, World Party's second album, contained the minor UK hit singles "Way Down Now" and "Put the Message in the Box". Wallinger collaborated with fellow songwriter Guy Chambers on some of the tracks. Goodbye Jumbo was voted "album of the year" by Q magazine and was nominated for a Grammy Award for "best alternative music performance" in the US.
After the 1991 EP Thank You World (including a cover of The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"), Wallinger recruited guitarist David Catlin-Birch and ex-Icicle Works drummer Chris Sharrock as fully-fledged members for 1993's album Bang!. It reached no. 2 in the UK Albums Chart, with the track, "Is It Like Today?" (no. 19 on the UK Singles Chart) also becoming a moderately successful single in Europe. The success of Bang! saw World Party in the line-up for the Glastonbury Festival in 1994, though they had previously played there in 1987 and 1990.
In 1994, World Party recorded "When You Come Back to Me" for the Reality Bites soundtrack influenced by David Bowie's 1975 song, "Young Americans".
Their fourth album, Egyptology (1997), written following the death of Wallinger's mother, was commercially disastrous, although "She's the One" won an Ivor Novello Award and was subsequently recorded by Robbie Williams. Wallinger took a three-year break from World Party, before the release of Dumbing Up in 2000. However, in February 2001 he was struck down by an aneurysm that left him unable to speak.
After a five-year rehabilitation, in 2006 Wallinger re-emerged onto the scene. With his back catalogue reclaimed from EMI, a distribution deal was struck (via his own Seaview label) with Universal, and he played his first live show in a decade at the Austin, Texas-based South by Southwest festival. He played additional US dates in 2006 including the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. Big Blue Ball, a joint project with Peter Gabriel with production work by Stephen Hague was also released.
In September 2007, World Party supported Steely Dan in their first tour of Australia. The Best in Show compilation was released to celebrate the Australian tour.
2009 included an American west coast tour and galvanizing appearances at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival and San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
In 2012 World Party released a new five-CD/70-song collection of new songs, live recordings and cover versions titled Arkeology to critical acclaim. World Party toured extensively in America in 2012, and toured England for the first time in 12 years, ending with a triumphant appearance in November 2012 in London at the Royal Albert Hall.
2013 looks to bring more touring in America, England, Scotland and Canada, along with the release of new material.
Wallinger cites influences such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Junior Walker, Neil Young and Prince. He sings and plays most of the instruments himself, using multi-tracking to create the studio sound. Lyrically, many of his songs feature thoughtful and occasionally political sentiments.
- Private Revolution (1986)
- Goodbye Jumbo (1990)
- Bang! (1993)
- Egyptology (1997)
- Dumbing Up (2000)
Compilations & reissues
- Dumbing Up (2006) (limited edition with revised track listing and bonus DVD)
- Best in Show (2007) (greatest hits compilation)
- Arkeology (2012) (5-CD/70 song set of new songs, demos, outtakes, B-sides, alternate mixes, live tracks and radio sessions)
- February 1987: "Ship of Fools" (#42 UK; #4 AUS; #27 US)
- May 1990: "Message in the Box" (#39 UK; #8 US Modern Rock)
- August 1990: "Way Down Now" (#66 UK; #1 US Modern Rock)
- April 1991: "Thank You World" (#68 UK)
- March 1993: "Is It Like Today" (#19 UK; #52 GER; #5 US Modern Rock)
- July 1993: "Give It All Away" (#43 UK)
- September 1993: "All I Gave" (#37 UK)
- May 1997: "Beautiful Dream" (#31 UK)
- Acoustic 05 (2005, Echo) "She's the One"