Stephen Bishop

Careless

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Even before Stephen Bishop (guitar, trombone, vocals) issued his debut long-player, Careless, in 1978, he'd already become a music industry insider. Bishop was discovered by Art Garfunkel in the 1970s as a publisher, where he penned songs for a diversity of artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to the Four Tops. His well-crafted melodies were matched by his strengths as a lyricist, evoking strong imagery with more than a touch of organic whimsy. This album is a star-studded affair, and among the talent on hand is Rufus vocalist Chaka Kahn, who had previously been the recipient of a few Bishop compositions. Eric Clapton contributes guitar to several cuts, including some tasty electric slide work on the midtempo rocker "Sinking in an Ocean of Tears," and both Kahn and Clapton are featured on the light and faintly tropical Top 40 entry "Save It for a Rainy Day." The biggest hit extracted from Careless is truly the stuff of adult contemporary heaven, as the somnolent "On and On" made it all the way to number 11 on the Pop Singles survey in early 1977. There are shades of other '70s singer/songwriters such as Harry Chapin and Janis Ian throughout, especially on the portentous and introspective ode "Madge," made all the more affective as Bishop's lone acoustic guitar accompaniment is increasingly poignant thanks to the stirring orchestration from Lee Holdridge. The quirky verses and adeptly placed chord changes on the title track, "Careless," stand out, bearing a bit of a resemblance to Paul McCartney's "Here, There and Everywhere," with an ever so slightly lilting gait ably pushing the melody forward. Bishop demonstrates his inimitable tongue-in-cheek wit on "Rock and Roll Slave." With a name like that, one might expect a ballsy and uptempo slasher, right? Listeners will be pleasantly surprised as the artist's phraseology is particularly stellar, with examples including "There'll be a million tomorrows tonight." Enthusiasts of the genre will not be disappointed with Careless, which was resurrected onto compact disc in 2005 by Hip-O Select -- available exclusively online at www.hip-oselect.com -- after nearly two decades out of print. There is even a miniaturized double-sided four-panel poster, replicating the original LP inner sleeve artwork and lyrics.

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