Formed from the ashes of Brandon Wolf, his previous pseudonym, Calgary native Barney Franklin Bentall kept Vancouver as his home base and assembled The Legendary Hearts in ’84, a name taken from a Lou Reed album title. Former Wolf-alumni Colin Nairne on guitars and drummer Jack Guppy. Cam Bowman was soon added on keyboards, along with bassist Barry Muir, and they made their rounds in and around the BC and Alberta circuit.
They continued on the road for over four years while shopping for a deal with a major label, finally getting picked up by A&M in ’87. Bruce Allen wanted the band to use either Bob Rock (later best known for his work with Payolas and Metallica) or Bruce Fairbairn as producer. But Bentall knew from his time in Brandon Wolf that the key to a record he’d be happy with was to pick his own producer, and he waited until David Tickle was available. The band headed into Vancouver’s Little Mountain Studios a year later for their self-titled debut, released in ’88.
Bentall again re-grouped – this time for nearly 7 years, touring frequently and re-thinking the whole process. He was signed to a major deal with CBS in ’87 and began putting the finishing touches on the latest project. Though execs were pushing Barney to use a slick producer like Rock again, or even Bruce Fairbairn, he was intent on using David Tickle and waited until his schedule permitted it.
Recorded at Vancouver’s famed Mushroom Studios, most noteable for the work done there by the likes of Heart & Chilliwack, “Something To Live For” preceeded the album and lit up the charts. The self-titled album hit the stores the next spring and and saw “Come Back To Me” and “The House of Love” push the album gold. A more ‘refined’ version of “Something To Live For” was re-released early in 1988 to coincide with the video, his third, just prior to “She’s My Inspiration”, their fourth single.
A cross-country tour ensued, following which they began working on the next record. LONELY AVENUE was met by rave reviews when it hit the shelves in 1990. The lead-off track was the first single and “Crime Against Love” paved the way for what looked like another sure-winner, with “Life Cold Be Worse”, “I Gotta Go” and “Nothing Hurts Like The Words” also released as singles. The sombre “Dark Nights/Dark Road” also gave an inside look at a more sombre songwriter. But problems with CBS led to the label dropping them, forcing Bentall to once again re-think his strategy.
Sony Music picked him up and released ’92’s AIN’T LIFE STRANGE, a more interspective look at life. Feeling he had a better idea of what he wanted his music to sound like, Bentall took over production duties with songwriting partner Gary Fraser. “Living In The 90’s” hit the radio as the first single, followed by “Doin’ Fine”, Family Man”, “If This Is Love” and “Belly of The Sun” following over the next year. They set out on another cross-Canada tour, also landing some gigs in the US and further entrenched themselves as one of Canada’s most entertaining live acts.
The next record came in the form of 1995’s GIN PALACE. Slightly more upbeat and arguably his most mature writing, “Do Ya” – the first single – ate up the airwaves and was followed by “I’m Shattered”. Other noteable cuts included the title-track and “U Shook Me All Night Long”. His now infamous legendary raport with the audiences again hilighted another extensive tour which took him well into ’96. While on the road, Sony released GREATEST HITS ’86-’96, containing 16 of Bentall’s biggest hits.
His next new material came in the form of ‘TIL TOMORROW. The eagerly-anticipated record came out in ’97 and had some of Bentall’s strongest writing to date. The lead-off track “Shoulder of The Road” was indicative of the album – well-written hard pop with tight hooks and seemless melodies. The irony of “Making The Bed (When The House Is On Fire)” harkened back to Bentall’s sense of humour which was laced throughout the majority of his material. “So Electric”, “Always You” & “Take Me To The Moon” all helped establish ‘TIL TOMORROW as Bentall’s most diverse record to date. Following some extensive touring he all but dropped out of sight, still making the occasional gig.
Never one to stay away too long however, the much anticipated GIFT HORSE was released on True North Records, featuring the lead-off “Dream of a Day,” “Gypsy Boy,” “Back Up On The Horse” and “Dance For Me.” Back on the road in full force, a succession of tours commenced in support of the record.