Singer-songwriter-pianist David Bentley's first album in a decade brings together a treasured handful of accomplished and legendary Australian musicians.
The heart of the album, however, is to be found in the songs Bentley has written - including the elegantly soulful Irretrievably Blue, picked by Radio National up for airplay even before the album's release.
To listen to the pumping shuffle on the opening track of this vibrant new album is to feel an urge to dance. Then there is Mark Spencer's slippery sax riff on Irretrievably Blue and the bitter sweet 'Nawlins-style love song Lie To Me.
Its an album that grabs the listener...from track one through to the final cut.
Other standout tracks include Soul Rites and Refugee. That said, every track is a winner...with the bonus of great musicianship from, among others, guitarists Jim Kelly and Kirk Lorange, bassist Greg Lyon , drummers Mark Kennedy, Paul Hudson and Scott Hills and saxophonist Mark Spencer.
As well as being a noted jazz/blues singer-pianist in home town Brisbane, Bentley is globally recognised for having penned Rod Stewart's still-smouldering hit, In A Broken Dream.
Recorded in London in 1969, In A Broken Dream was a "sleeper" - overlooked until the mid-70s when it rose to number three in the British charts and also the middle reaches of the US Hot Hundred.
In Europe, the song remains something a classic. It has turned up on the sound track of films and documentaries (including the acclaimed art house movie Breaking The Waves) and became the subject of many cover versions.
Stewart included the track on two anthologies of previously recorded work...and, in the mid-90s, a young English band, Thunder, delivered a high octane reading that propelled it into British charts for the second time.
Most recently, In A Broken Dream surfaced on the leading edge of a collection of songs recorded by British singer Kathryn Williams' - along with songs by Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Kurt Cobain.
Bentley, meanwhile, has carved out a successful career in journalism (he was awarded journalism's highest accolade, the Gold Walkley, in 1995) while simultaneously pursuing his love of songwriting, his passion for jazz and his penchant for blues.
The result: great songs, great playing, great solos and a good time had by all.
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Distributed in Australia through MGM (Metropolitan Groove Merchants), the album's standout song, Irretrieveably Blue, has been playlisted by Radio National and included on the ABC's compilation album, Airplay 8.
Other tracks have received wide exposure by public radio stations around Australia, notably Melbourne and Adelaide.
The Courier-Mail reviewer Noel Mengel has this to say:
"LIKE another Australian jazzman, Dick Hughes, David Bentley has balanced a career as piano-man by night and journalist by day. But he's finally made the time to release another solo set, a classy collection of the jazz-tinged R&B which has been entertaining Queensland audiences these past 30 years.
In Britain Bentley is still best-known as the author of In a Broken Dream, the 1970s hit sung by Rod Stewart for Bentley's band, Python Lee Jackson. This collection shows he still has the touch as a songwriter, expertly framed by a cast of leading Australian jazz-blues players including guitarists Kirk Lorange and Jim Kelly and drummer Mark Kennedy.
In style, Last Man Standing fits with the likes of Georgie Fame and the later Van Morrison, easily moving between jazz, soul and blues, with healthy doses of New Orleans on tunes like Chiang Rai Hilton and Refugee, which is the kind of spectral funk more often associated with the Neville Brothers."
Standing by the Blues
"A multi-skilled writer, player and now producer, David Bentley's trademark keys work has found its way onto many a local CD, not to mention countless stages across the South East.
On Last Man Standing, Bentley takes on the steep learning curve of self-production with an astounding sense of acoustic clarity and proficiency. This, combined with his personal approach to blues and the outer limits of soul, create an engaging listening situation.
The album's character - and indeed its charm - does seem to stem directly from the musicians and their relationship with Bentley's playing, both in the live takes and in the 'edited' recordings. Beyond the musicianship, it's also Bentley's songwriting that lends the record a sense of self." Dave Gendel. Time Off magazine.
"I bought a copy of "Last Man Standing" at Maggie Black's last night. Just wanted to say thanks so much for the great performance and the fantastic album. It's always nice to see such a talented bunch of musicians produce something so unpretentious and just plain fun."