Brian Lawrence Bennett was born in Palmers Green, North London, in 1940. His interest in music dated from an early age; he left school at sixteen to play drums in a Ramsgate skiffle group performing for holiday makers, and by the late '50s he was one of the most sought-after percussionists around.
A teenage prodigy, he was the house drummer at the legendary 2Is Club - now known as the birthplace of British Rock'n'Roll - in London's Soho, backing artists like Tony Sheridan, Terry Dene, Vince Eager and Vince Taylor, and from there he earned a regular spot on the Jack Good's legendary TV music showcase Oh Boy!
By 1959, Bennett was regarded as one of the top Rock & Roll drummers in England, and part of a growing number of young drummers capable of playing the music well. That year he joined The Wildcats, the backing band of Rock & Roll singer Marty Wilde.
He remained with Wilde for two years, also playing outside live gigs with stars such as Tommy Steele, and he was also featured on a Wildcats instrumental release of "Trambone" recorded as the Krew Kats. In those days he also had the chance to back Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent during their 1960 U.K. tour.
In October of 1961, lightning struck for Bennett's career when Tony Meehan - then regarded as the top drummer in England - quit The Shadows, who were then the top Rock & Roll British band as well as the backing group for Cliff Richard, the top singer in the field.
The opening was one of the most coveted in the country - The Shadows were regularly topping the charts in their own right, and their concerts with Richard were riotous affairs, huge sell-outs in front of hordes of screaming fans across England - Bennett was offered the spot. He accepted and was with the group across a string of hit singles and albums, lasting through their intended official breakup in 1968, on the occasion of the group's tenth anniversary as a professional band.
He also showed himself a highly talented songwriter, earning his first Ivor Novello Award for composing the title theme to the movie "Summer Holiday", which starred Richard and the band - he also contributed songs to their subsequent movies, up through "Finder's Keepers".
A favourite feature for the audience at any Shadows' concert was always his drum solo, with "Little B" - a must showcase for every Beat-Drummer in the pre-Beatles era - perhaps being the best known and highly regarded piece which has inspired countless drummers over the years and is still performed now by budding young drummers at Shadows' music clubs throughout the UK.
Many drummers back then considered each new Shadows' record as a drum lesson - learning how to play the fills in classic tunes such as "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt" and "Foot Tapper".
"Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk", inner gatefold
In 1967 Bennett released his first solo LP exploring Jazz and Easy Listening territories with the aptly entitled "Change of Direction", which was followed in 1969 by "The Illustrated London Noise", a return to Rock and Funky music.
Following the 1968 "farewell" Shadows concert, he participated along with lead guitarist Hank Marvin and bassist John Rostill in the band's brief 1969 reunion for a tour of Japan.
By the early '70s Brian was a highly successful and much sought after session drummer working with a vast array of different artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Olivia Newton-John, Engelbert Humperdinck, Richard Harris, The Walker Brothers and many more.
With The Shadows on extended hiatus, Bennett turned to other areas of music. He'd already developed some insights into the mechanics of music through his work as a songwriter, and he took a correspondence course in arranging and orchestration that, when added to his natural ability as a composer, ended up reshaping his whole career. He'd always provided vocals on the Shadows' own recordings, and now he re-established his performing credentials on the piano as well as the vibraphone.
He became Cliff Richard's musical director and formed The Brian Bennett Orchestra touring the world including the first Western rock concerts performed in Russia. Even more important, amid the string of hit albums with Richard that followed, he also started writing music for movies / television and part of this huge load of work was published on many library records by specialized labels like KPM Music and Bruton.
In 1977 he published his third proper solo album, "Rock Dreams", credited to the Brian Bennett Band, which was followed the next year by the Disco/Funk opus "Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk", the subject of this post.
Brian Bennett, DJM promotional picture, circa 1977-78
"Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk" contains the following tracks:
01. Voyage (6:25)
02. Solstice (6:21)
03. Chain Reaction (6:41)
04. Pendulum Force (6:24)
05. Air Quake (4:15)
06. Ocean Glide (6:41)
All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in July 2014, they are available as a FLAC lossless format file or as a high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 file. Both formats offer complete printable PDF artwork.
Before burning this album on CD-R using the provided CUE file you will need to convert the original files to WAV format using an appropriate software. Here's an option for FLAC to WAV conversion and one for MP3 to WAV conversion.
As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download links.
Here's the complete credits and personnel list of "Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk":
Keyboards: Francis Monkman
Bass Guitar: Alan Jones
Percussion: Brian Bennett
Recorded and Engineered by Dick Plant.
Assistant Engineer: Barry Kidd
Synthesizers programmed and realized by Francis Monkman.
Recorded at the Music Centre, Wembley.
Written, Arranged and Produced by Brian Bennett.
Sleeve Design: Roy Simpson Ltd.
Brian Bennett, circa late '70s / early '80s
The following videos offer a preview of the remastered album; here's "Solstice", "Pendulum Force", "Voyage" and "Ocean Glide", enjoy!
More information about "Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk", Brian Bennett and Francis Monkman is available here:
If you have any other useful information about Brian Bennett, Francis Monkman and "Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!