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CD Reviews: Review of Red Cab to Manhattan by Stephen Bishop
Thompson Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Stephen Bishop: Red Cab to Manhattan (Warner Bros. 1980 / CD Baby 2005)

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om CD Baby.com
You’d think that after all these years of the CD being the king of pre-recorded music formats that there wouldn’t be any albums left to reissue, especially in this day and age of any old classic album getting an oft-times unnecessary deluxe reissue with a buttload of bonus tracks that are usually not worth hearing after one play. Not only that, but there have been so many obscure releases from the ‘60s brought out on CD that really play to the esoteric crowds, the real hipsters, the folks who thrill at dropping a little extra money on something freaky. So yea, you’d really think that everything would be out there to enjoy. But it isn’t.

So why has it taken this long for Stephen Bishop’s wonderful third album to be reissued?

Good question. And who knows, really? But the fact that it has been done so by CD Baby makes one thing clear: Bish himself has reissued the thing all on his own. There’s no fancy frills to the disc. The sleeve has obviously been reproduced on a printer, and there are no lyrics or inner sleeve pictures or credits like on the original vinyl. This is not a deluxe reissue. But it’s a very important reissue. At least to a fan like myself, who as a kid got the LP for 50 cents in a Woolworth’s bargain bin after hearing his older brother’s copy.

To most people, Stephen Bishop is the guy who sang “On and On” or “It Might Be You”, or even the theme to “Animal House.” Then there’s also “Send a Little Love My Way (Like Always)” which comes from this album and is typical of Bish’s soft rock love song style. But that’s just the thing here. Red Cab to Manhattan broke away from the mold of Bishop’s first two platters, Careless and Bish, by mixing up the styles and rocking things a bit more. Plus there’s a whole lot of great humor packed into these songs.

For instance, there’s the opening track, “The Big House,” which is a tasty metaphorical tale about getting shitcanned in a relationship. Then there’s the wacky Broadwayesque groove of “Thief in the Night,” a tender tune about a lover cheating on the singer. And let’s not forget the touching mobster tale underpinning “Living in the Land of Abe Lincoln,” or the rocked-up goofiness of “Sex Kittens Go to College.” Yes, Bish was certainly working at 110% on these songs.

But then there’s also the softer side as well, as on the smooth “Don’t You Worry” and the touching title track that makes perfect sense to me all these years later. Or how about “Little Moon,” which is possibly about actress Karen Allen (on the LP’s original inner sleeve was a strip of photos with Bish and Allen done in one of those photo booths)? These are fantastic songs, and along with the likes of such numbers as “The Story of a Boy in Love” and “My Clarinet,” these are simply perfect pop songs that have unfortunately been forgotten by the CD reissuing machine, and perhaps even the public at large if they weren’t there to enjoy it the first time around.

So my personal thanks to Bish himself for finally getting this one out on disc. I have literally waited years for it to happen, and now there’s no longer this yawning hole in my collection waiting to be filled. If you’ve never been privy to Red Cab, then do visit the CD Baby website and give it a try. It’s seriously one of the best albums that arrived at the beginning of the ’80s, and easily the best in Bish’s catalogue by far.

~Jason Thompson 


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