James Taylor Move

The James Taylor Move was an Australian psychedelic rock band from Adelaide that issued two singles in 1967 on Festival Records, followed by a stint behind blues singer Wendy Saddington.

Guitarist Kevin Peek and rhythm players Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer moved to the UK, where they teamed with fellow Aussie Terry Britten in Quartet. Tarney and Spencer later recorded three albums as a harmony-rock duo and provided instrumental backing on albums by Peter Doyle, Charlie Dore, Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer, and Barbara Dickson. In 1979, Peek reemerged in the modern-classical combo Sky with guitarist John Williams.

(Note: This band has no connection to American singer–songwriter James Taylor, an unknown in JTM’s 1967–68 timeframe.)

Members: Lance Dixon (organ, saxophone), Kevin Peek (guitar, 1967-68), John Pugh (guitar, 1968), Wendy Saddington (vocals, 1968), Trevor Spencer (drums), Alan Tarney (bass), Robert “RJ” Taylor (vocals, bass)


Background

James Taylor Move formed in early 1967 in Adelaide, where namesake singer Robert RJ Taylor hired serial drummer Trevor Spencer (b. May 21, 1947) and two members of local beatsters The Handels: guitarist Kevin Peek and bassist Alan Tarney.

Peek (b. December 21, 1946) played earlier in The Hurricanes, an Atlantics-style instrumental act. They merged with a vocal combo, The Checkmates, and became The Twilights, which soon became Adelaide’s leading beat group. Before their rise, Peek cleared for guitarist–songwriter Terry Britten. He joined Johnny Broome & The Handels, a resident act at venues in Adelaide (The Octagon) and nearby Elizabeth (Salisbury Youth Centre)> where Peek showed his budding guitar prowess.

The Handels featured Tarney (b. November 19, 1945; Workington, UK) and drummer Laurie Pryor. In 1965, they cut one single on Melbourne’s W&G label: “Do’s and Dont’s” backed with “Didn’t Know Her Name,” both sides written by ‘Frank Tarney.’> Pryor soon replaced drummer Frank Barnard in The Twilights, who won the 1966 Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds contest and sailed to England with their reward money. 

In 1967, the James Taylor Move won the southern Hoadley’s round and relocated to Melbourne, where they placed second in the national finals behind The Groop, a soul-pop band with keyboardist–songwriter Brian Cadd. Based on JTM’s strong performance, Festival Records signed the band and green-lit two singles.


1967 Singles

In August 1967, the James Taylor Move released their first single: “Magic Eyes,” a Taylor–Tarney–Peek original backed with Taylor’s “And I Heard the Fire Sing.”

A. “Magic Eyes” (2:45) opens with a mid-tempo staccato guitar figure (in A) and harmonized vocables, followed with revved-up verses that echo soulful UK freakbeat (Small Faces, Skip Bifferty).
B. “And I Heard the Fire Sing” (2:39) is a Hendrix-inspired rocker with a sludgy three-chord riff (A→C→G) and pile-driving drums. Taylor (murky and distant in the verses) shrieks on the bridges.

Festival lists this as a ‘A Big Daddy Production.’ The record labels misspell Kevin’s surname (“Peep”). DJs found the b-side better-suited for airplay in the Southeast, where “And I Heard the Fire Sing” reached the Melbourne Top 40.

In October 1967, the James Taylor Move released their second single: “Baby Jane,” a Taylor–Tarney number backed with “Still I Can Go On,” a Taylor–Peek original.

A. “Baby Jane” (2:31) is a mid-tempo freakbeat soul-rocker with simple singalong chords (D→G→A→D) against a pounding beat. Peek breaks the harmonized chorus with (vaguely Spanish sounding) plucked guitar fills. Opens and closes with a circus organ riff.
B. “Still I Can Go On” (3:07) is a harmonized raga-psych piece with Peek’s descending sitar-tone motif against an ongoing drone (in D) with assorted percussion (cymbals, bongos, cowbell).

In 1977, Festival included “Magic Eyes” on So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star Volume 2 (The Psychedelic Years of Australian Rock 1967-70), a four-record multi-artist comp with period tracks by Pastoral Symphony (“Love Machine”), Dave Miller Set (“Mr. Guy Fawkes”), Procession (“Listen”), Wild Cherries (“Krome Plated Yabby”), The Cleves (“Sticks and Stones”), and the Australian Velvet Underground (“Somebody to Love”).


Second Lineup

In May 1968, Kevin Peek cleared out for John Pugh, a multi-instrumentalist from the Melbourne bands 18th Century Quartet and Cam-Pact. The James Taylor Move became a five-piece with organist Lance Dixon. However, Robert Taylor quit the following month.

The remaining band continued for several months without their namesake, joined by eighteen-year-old soul wailer Wendy Saddington. They folded in late 1968 with no recordings from the post-Peek timeframe.


Quartet

Soon after JTM’s collapse, Tarney and Spencer reunited with their former guitarist in the Kevin Peek Trio. In 1969, they moved to the UK and linked with fellow Adelaide rocker Terry Britten of the now-defunct Twilights. Britten cut the recent Columbia solo single “2,000 Weeks” (b/w “Bargain Day”). The four musicians singed with Decca under the self-descriptive moniker Quartet.


Quartet Singles

On October 31, 1969, Quartet released “Now,” a Britten original backed with “Will My Lady Come,” a Peek–Tarney–Spencer number.

A. “Now”
B. “Will My Lady Come”

Decca–Deram soundman Neil Slaven produced both sides between the first two Keef Hartley Band albums. “Now” features string arrangements by Graeme Hall (Buddy England, Jungle Jim).

On September 18, 1970, Quartet released “Joseph,” a Britten number produced by Twilights soundman David MacKay. Slaven produced the b-side, “Mama Where Did You Fail,” written by the Peek Trio faction.

A. “Joseph”
B. “Mama Where Did You Fail” is an acoustic, harmonized folk-rock piece with Spanish guitar filigree and legato scales across a locomotive rhythmic churn.


Later Activity

Robert Taylor made a brief reappearance on Caesar’s International with the 1970 single “Can’t Shoot Your Brother Down” (b/w “Ups An Downs”).

Wendy Saddington emerged as one of Australia’s leading blues divas with stints in Chain and Copperwine.

John Pugh did stints in Healing Force, Bakery, and the Renee Geyer Band.

Kevin Peek proliferated as a London sessionist with credits behind Mary Hopkin, Hank Marvin, Olivia Newton-John, Sally Oldfield, and the Alan Parsons Project. In 1979, he teamed with fellow Aussie expat John Williams in Sky, a classical–rock fusion band with keyboardist Francis Monkman (Curved Air, 801) and session bassist Herbie Flowers (Blue Mink, Hungry Wolf, Rumplestiltskin).

Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer worked as a team on recordings by Newton-John, the New Seekers, and Irish showband The Freshman. In 1972, they began their association with Cliff Richard and the trio Marvin Welch Farrar. Meanwhile, Tarney played on Mike Hugg‘s solo debut and joined MWF’s parent band, The Shadows.

In 1976, they formed the harmony-rock duo Tarney & Spencer, which released three albums and scored radio hits with “I’m Your Man Rock’n’Roll” and “No Time to Lose.” Meanwhile, Richard and Newton-John recorded the duo’s songs “Living In Harmony” and “Hey Mr. Dream Maker.”

In 1979, Richard scored a worldwide hit with “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” the blue-print for Tarney’s production work on 1980–81 albums by Cliff, Barbara Dickson, and Leo Sayer. Tarney worked on 1982–83 singles by Squeeze and the Lotus Eaters, then linked with Norwegian posters a-ha on the global hit “Take On Me” and their three ensuing albums.


Discography:

  • “And I Heard the Fire Sing” / “Magic Eyes” (1967)
  • “Baby Jane” / “Still I Can Go On” (1967)

Sources:

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