by Jeff Fiedler
Albums from the Lost & Found is a regular feature on thegreatalbums.com in which contributor Jeff Fiedler reviews and helps us rediscover great pop albums that seem to have been lost to time.
1989’s Bowling in Paris (which hilariously boasts a thank-you in the liner notes to Nintendo “for the brain rest via Super Mario II and Solomon’s Key”) is another kind of beast entirely – one boasting fuller and glossier production and a much heavier helping of up-tempo tunes – but it’s every bit as good, if not perhaps even better.
The disc – produced in part by Phil Collins and Hugh Padgham, while Michael Omartian and Gus Dudgeon handle most of the remaining cuts – is also every bit as guest-packed as Careless, the session players this time around including Steve Lukather, Nathan East, Adrian Lee, Pete Wingfield, Dann Huff, Brenda Russell, and Randy Crawford. Bishop even pulls off a serious booking coup by closing the disc with the all-star “Hall Light,” on which Bishop is backed by Collins on drums, longtime friend Clapton on guitar, and Sting on bass and backing vocals.
In stark contrast to Careless, Bowling in Paris opens with three consecutive Omartian-produced up-tempo tunes, beginning with the excellent “Mister Heartbreak” (co-written by Bishop with Peter Rafelson, best known for writing Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” and featuring backing vocals from – surprisingly enough – Debby Boone of “You Light Up My Life” fame!) and the very catchy “Think I Know What Love Is.”
The album’s first ballad, the heavily atmospheric “Sleeping with Girls,” is co-produced by Collins (who, naturally, also provides his ever-distinctive drumming) and features Crawford and Russell on backing vocals, while Collins also brings out Bishop’s inner rocker in the surprisingly muscular “Love at a Distance,” which Atlantic really, really dropped the ball by not releasing as a single. But the album isn’t without its softer moments, either, and Bishop returns to the wistful, lovely balladry of old in the dreamy grooves of “Parked Cars.”
Sadly, nothing here even so much as reached the Hot 100 – 1983’s “It Might Be You” remains his most recent Top 40 hit to date – but Bishop would have a sizable Adult Contemporary hit from the album with its best track, a re-recorded version of Bishop’s song “Walking on Air,” which had yet to surface in any form on record prior to Bowling in Paris but had garnered attention as the closing theme to the 1986 film The Boy Who Could Fly.
An interesting footnote to the album is that, while it may not have resulted in any Hot 100 hits for Bishop, it did indirectly result in a major hit for one of the album’s producers. Collins had suggested during their sessions together that Bishop cover the Mindbenders’ 1966 Number Two smash “A Groovy Kind of Love.” The song was re-arranged as a radically-slowed-down, minimalist ballad with little more than an electric piano and a drum machine for its backing track, and Collins reportedly fell so in love with the new version that he apologized to his friend and asked if he could take the song back and cover it himself for the soundtrack of his film Buster, resulting in a Number One smash for the Genesis frontman. Though we’ll never know if Bishop’s own version would have been a hit, Bishop’s distinctive voice would make it back onto the radio the following year, anyway, thanks to Collins recruiting his friend to supply the gorgeous backing vocals on his Top Five smash “Do You Remember?” from … But Seriously.