Artist: Stephen Bishop
Release date: 1978
Favorite track: “Everybody Needs Love"
I have no idea where or how I ended up with this album.
Stephen Bishop’s second album, “Bish,” is a nice addition to my collection. After hearing it, I definitely want to add his debut album, “Careless,” too.
Also, after featuring Phil Collins in my column last week, it seems appropriate to feature another clearly talented songwriter. Bishop provided back-up vocals on Collins’ album, “Face Value.”
Probably the most interesting part about this record is the 1-minute, 40-second introduction song, “If I Only Had a Brain.”
You might recognize the title because the song came from “The Wizard of Oz.” The Scarecrow character sings about his desire for a greater mental capacity. Then, the lion and other characters, too, sing about wish characteristics they lack.
This brief instrumental song is a slow way to start a record, and also interesting without lyrics. I like that Bishop says something by saying nothing.
The second track, “Losing Myself in You,” is also slow, but features Bishop’s pleasant, straight-laced vocals. His music definitely reminds me of Paul McCartney.
Looking at the titles alone, you can tell “Bish” is packed with love songs — “Looking for the Right One,” “Everybody Needs Love” and “What Love Can Do” — for example. Bishop does indeed shine in these warmhearted pop songs, especially the faster-paced ones. “Everybody Needs Love” is the first song I really latched onto, which makes sense because it was the lead single and highest charting song on the album. “Looking for the Right One” didn’t have the same success.
I think “A Fool at Heart” could’ve been a semi-successful single. Although it’s slow-paced, it packs a lot of punch. I also feel as if it’s a bit of an explanation for the introductory song.
And the world could fall apart all around you
But two can make it
If it’s love, walk right on through
— “A Fool at Heart”
“What Love Can Do” has a bizarre theatrical intro that doesn’t seem to match the rest of the song. The remainder sounds like a brisk walk through 1920s Paris.
“Vagabond from Heaven” is the first to truly introduce synthesizers. It’s so much flashier than the rest of the record.
“Bish’s Hideaway” is my least favorite song, because Bish’s style is far too soft for me taste. It should indeed hide away and let his upbeat romance numbers shine. I can appreciate the song “Only the Heart Within You,” but only because it has the DNA of a solid folk song.
“I’ve Never Known a Nite Like This” has a horn section — my favorite — and a touch of disco. The album desperately needed something like this.
The record concludes with “When I Was in Love,” a lovely song to wind down.
There are two things I love about the cover, the yellow edges and how the woman is turned away from Bishop. Think what you will.