|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
JAMES TAYLOR MOVE
Lance Dixon (organ, sax) 1968
Kevin Peek (guitar) 1967 - May 1968
John Pugh (guitar) 1968
Wendy Saddington (vocals) 1968
Trevor Spencer (drums)
Allan Tarney (bass)
Robert (RJ) Taylor (vocals, bass) 1967 - June 1968
Although almost unknown today, seminal Adelaide band James Taylor Move formed at the start of 1967, apparently at the behest of a local disco owner. They are considered one of Australia's first psychedelic rock groups, blending influences from Hendrix, the American West Coast scene, Motown, and Chicago blues, and they boasted some of South Australia's best young musicians.
The original members -- Taylor, Peek, Tarney and Spencer -- were all respected local players who had close connections with Adelaide's No.1 pop group The Twilights. Peek, Tarney and Spencer had played in a couple of earlier Adelaide bands, The Hurricanes and Johnny Broome & The Handels, whose various members formed the nuclei of both The Twilights and the James Taylor Move. Peek was Adelaide's guitar hero at the time -- the young Terry Britten was reputedly Kevin's eager disciple and used carry his guitar to and from gigs.
Not surprisingly, their early gigs were as support for The Twilights. They built up a solid following in Adelaide and in the first half of '67 they followed in The Twilights' footsteps, winning the South Australian final of the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds. They headed to Melbourne in July for the national finals, and although they were defeated by The Groop they decided to remain in the pop capital.
Probably as a result of their strong showing in the Battle, they snagged a deal with Festival and released their excellent debut single"And I Hear The Fire Sing" / "Magic Eyes" in August. The Henrix-inspired A-side -- which must be one of the first local recordings to show the impact of The Experience -- was apparently considered a bit too far-out for local radio, but the B-side was picked up, received plenty of airplay in the southern states and became a Top 40 hit for them in Melbourne. They began to attract some attention and were lauded in Go-Set by Ian Meldrum. In October Festival released their only other known commerical recording, the single, "Baby Jane", backed by the hypnotic, raga-styled "Still I Can Go On". Both "And I Hear The Fire Sing" and "Still I Can Go On" were included on the Gift Records compilation A Forest Of Gold Tops (GIFT 1001).
Kevin Peek left in May '68, and was replaced by two new members, John Pugh (ex-Roadrunners, 18th Century Quartet, Cam-Pact) and organist Lance Dixon. Lead singer Talyor left the following month, and he was replaced by a talented 18-year-old blues-soul singer called Wendy Saddington (ex Revolution). This second lineup lasted only a few more months and regrettably they made no commercial recordings before their split at the end of 1968.
Although The James Taylor Move is virtually forgotten these days, almost all the various members of the band went on to bigger and better things, either on the local or the international scene. Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer were reunited with Kevin Peek in theKevin Peek Trio (1968-69). They moved to the UK in 1969, where they recruited their old Adelaide buddy, former Twilights supremo Terry Britten to join the group, which they imaginatively renamed Quartet (1969-70).
The four maintained close links in the years to come, and along with other Aussie expats like Thorpie, Brian Cadd and another old mate from their Melbourne days, singer-songwriter-guitaristJohn Farrar (ex The Strangers) they became part of what was dubbed "The Gum-Leaf Mafia", the group of influential Aussie hitmakers who had a huge impact on the UK and US pop scene, producing, writing and playing for '70s and '80s chartoppers like Olivia Newton-John, Leo Sayer and Cliff Richard.
In the 70s Kevin Peek quickly made his name in London as a "guitarist's guitarist", becoming an in-demand session player with credits including The New Seekers, Mary Hopkin, Hank Marvin, Olivia Newton-John, Sally Oldfield and The Alan Parsons Project. This led to his greatest success in 1978, when expatriate Aussie classical guitarist John Williams invited him to join his new "classical-rock-fusion" band Sky.
The concept of Sky had grown out of Williams' "crossover" LP Changes (1971), which he cut with an all-star session lineup including keyboard wiz Francis Monkman (Curved Air, 801), Blue Mink bassist Herbie Flowers -- a session legend in his own right, whose amazing credits include Lou Reed, David Bowie, Elton John, Al Kooper, Melanie, Nilsson, Ringo Starr and Cat Stevens -- and percussionist Tristan Fry, a classical percussionist and pop session drummer who had played with the LSO on the orchestral sessions for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. With Peek completing the lineup, Sky recorded their hugely successful self-titled debut album, which was a chart topper in Australia and Europe and went platinum in the UK,and they played to packed houses in both regions. Sky continued its enormous success into the '80s, and Peek stayed on with the band until the early 90s.
Tarney and Spencer had similarly successful careers. Like Kevin Peek they both became sought-after session players, as well as expanding into songwriting and production. They formed their own Tarney-Spencer Band (1975-79) and cut three albums for A&M.
As a session player on bass, guitar and keyboards, Alan Tarney has played on recordings by an extraordinary list of world-famous artists including Barbara Dickson, Peter Doyle, David Dundas, The Hollies, Hank Marvin, Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer and Bonnie Tyler. As a producer, his credits are perhaps even more impressive, and his amazing (and amazingly diverse) CV includes 80s Scandinavian pop trio A-Ha , Bow Wow Wow, The Moody Blues, The Dream Academy's Life In A Northern Town, Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer, Squeeze, Matthew Sweet, Voice of the Beehive, the Princess Diana tribute album and Pulp's hit single Disco 2000.
Trevor Spencer was hardly less prolific, with many notable session credits including John Cooper-Clarke, Hank Marvin, Olivia Newton-John, Sally Oldfield, Kevin Peek, Pilot, Cliff Richard and Leo Sayer, and for many of these recordings Tarney and Spencer were the session rhythm section.
As a writer or co-writer, Tarney has enjoyed equally remarkable success with songs written for (or covered by) acts like Tom Jones, The Magsuball Tucker Band, Marvin Welch & Farrar, Sky and Bonnie Tyler. Tarney was also responsible for some of Cliff Richard's biggest hits, including Wired for Sound, Dreamin' (co-written with Leo Sayer), Some People and We Don't Talk Anymore.
Back in Australia, John Pugh went on to play in several acclaimed Aussie groups including Healing Force, Bakery and the Renee Geyer Band.
After JTM split, Wendy Saddington joined Beaten Tracks, which evolved into the first lineup of Chain in 1969, and around this time she also wrote an agony-aunt column for Go-Set. After leaving Chain, she briefly worked with Jeff St John's renowned backing group Copperwine and recorded an acclaimed live album with them, which is to be re-released by Festival in 2001. She continued as a respected solo artist into the early 80s, after which she withdrew from performing for some years to pursue spiritual interests. Wendy has recently begun perfroming again, and she features on the excellent Kevin Borich Express live album One Night Jamm which also features Ross Wilson.
"Magic Eyes" / "And I Heard The Fire Sing" (Festival FK 1892)
"Baby Jane" / "Still I Can Go On" (Festival FK 2025)
References / Links
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)