Tarney/Spencer Band

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Tarney-Spencer Band was an Australian rock band composed of Trevor Spencer and Alan Tarney in the late 1970s. The band recorded three albums, and is notable for the song "No Time to Lose" which received substantial air-play in the USA on Album-oriented rock radio stations, and charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Early years[edit]

Alan Tarney met Trevor Spencer while playing in an Australian group called Johnny Broome and The Handels and then The Vectormen plus James Taylor Move - all located in Adelaide.

In 1969 Alan and Trevor emigrated to the UK along with Kevin Peek and Terry Britten - allegedly motivated by Australia's teen-drafting into its army in support of the USA with its then current Vietnam war in north Vietnam until 1975.

They formed a band called Quartet, releasing 2 singles on the Decca label and recording a 13 track unreleased album which features both Decca singles.

In 1973 Tarney and Spencer along with John Farrar and Terry Britten backed Cliff Richard with his Eurovision song contest entry Power to All Our Friends.

The two also occasionally played on numerous sessions for artists including Hank Marvin and John Farrar, Cliff Richard, Olivia Newton-John, Chris Squire, Bonnie Tyler, Charlie Dore, New Seekers, Peter Doyle, The Real Thing and others.

Cliff Richard and The Shadows[edit]

About the same time as Tarney and Spencer were working under the name Quartet, they were also sitting in on sessions for Cliff Richard. Alan Tarney eventually joined The Shadows on bass in 1973, staying until 1977. Alan appears on the following releases by Cliff and The Shadows:

NB all of the above available on CD format in the UK/Europe.

Tarney-Spencer Band[edit]

Alan and Trevor began working as a duo in 1975. Their first, eponymous album Tarney and Spencer was released in 1976 in the UK only, on the Bradley's Records on the Bradley's label, produced by Dave Mackay and features the Shadows's (during 1977-2004) piano/keyboards player, Cliff Hall on Keyboards. Tarney played lead, rhythm and bass guitars during these sessions in London. The master tape of this album (and all other Bradleys albums were/was) was destroyed by a senior employee of Bradleys Records on the express orders of the CEO of Bradleys records in 1976. However, fortuitously for posterity, a recording engineer of this session, impressed by the quality of the music of this album, took a (reel-to-reel tape) back-up copy of the master tape which was subsequently returned to Castle Communications in 2003.

In 1976 Tarney and Spencer's first UK single I'm your man rock and roll nearly reached the bottom portion of the top 30 national UK chart thus, unusually at that time, enabling them to make a one-off appearance on BBC1's Top Of The Pops introduced by Tony Blackburn. Both Tarney and Spencer successfully mimed their near-hit single with Tarney 'playing' an un-amplified Sunburst Fender Stratocaster and Spencer 'playing' a Drum-kit with pieces of cardboard covering all the drum-skins by themselves with absolutely no session musicians covering the bass guitar or keyboards to visually fill the gaps. Tony Blackburn ended this somewhat bizarre (even by TOTP standards) performance by informing the viewers that Tarney played all the other instruments on the single. This TOTP appearance was repeated on Friday April 1, 2011 courtesy of a series of 1976 TOTP re-runs on BBC4 TV.

In 1978 the Tarney / Spencer Band signed a contract with A&M Records for 10 albums but only completed 2 albums after being un-expectantly released from their contract by A&M. The remainder of these eight albums were subsequently completed by mutual agreement with A&M with other British artists e.g. Leo Sayer(one album), Barbara Dickson(two albums), Cliff Richard(two albums) and Charlie Dore(70% of one album).

In 1978 the single "Takin' me Back" reached number 7 on the South African singles charts.[1] What was unusual though was that exactly the same song, by a different band named Sweet Chocolate, was on the charts at exactly the same time, but only peaked at #10, 3 places lower than the Tarney-Spencer version.

The band's second 1978 album (1st for A&M), recorded in London, was titled Three's a Crowd, produced by David Kershenbaum and featured cover art with rounded corners, shaped like an American style cafe menu card. The album received modest airplay on AOR radio station in the US and reached #174 on Billboard Magazine's album chart. A single from the album, "It's Really You" hit #86 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK and Europe it failed to chart and none of the singles received any airplay on Radio1 or Capital Radio. The British/European version of this album had conventional square corners. Members of the Climax Blues Band guested on this album.

The third album, Run For Your Life (2nd for A&M), recorded in the USA, again produced by David Kershenbaum appeared in 1979. Again, with airplay at AOR radio, the album charted in the US reaching #181. One of the album's tracks, "No Time To Lose" was released as a single and rose to number #84 on the singles chart. The album cover sleeve was manufactured with four slightly different cover sleeves with the album title in one of four colors: red, green, silver, and gold with a library of paper-back novels as an artwork theme. The British version of this album sleeve is completely different with a female shin with stiletto shoe avoiding an oncoming sports car.

After the release of a non-LP single, "Cathy's Clown" b/w "If there's anything I can do", with picture sleeve, this time produced by Bruce Welch, in 1979, the band was released from their contract with A&M and discontinued their work together as Tarney-Spencer Band. The Cathy's Clown single received a substantial and solid six weeks of intensive air play on London's Capital Radio (95.8FM/194 mW) but again just missed the bottom end of the national chart.

Two years after the band broke up, the track "No Time To Lose" got the attention of MTV. In 1981, when MTV launched, the channel occasionally aired a video clip for "No Time To Lose". A&M then reissued the track as a single. The song charted a second time on Billboard's Hot 100, fairing slightly better than the first time around, reaching #74.

Their biggest achievement, "No Time To Lose" has never officially seen mainstream release on CD, either as part of the Run For Your Life album or on a various artist compilation (though a very limited import edition of Run For Your Life with questionable legitimacy was issued in the early 90s - see below).

During the 1990s all three Tarney/Spencer band (aka Tarney and Spencer) albums were 'reissued' on CD on the illegal Fertile Crescent label in Canada resulting in Police prosecutions.

Later work[edit]

Trevor Spencer left the UK in the mid-1980s and returned to Perth to help start Sh-Boom studios with Gary Taylor. Recent work with Hank Marvin's 1990's solo (Hank plays.... series e.g. Buddy Holly, Cliff Richard, etc.) albums.

Alan Tarney began working as a producer in 1979 and was largely responsible for masterminding Cliff Richard's resurgent chart career in the late 1970s and again in the mid-1980s with the world-wide-hit "We Don't Talk Anymore" and the albums I'm No Hero, Wired for Sound, Stronger and Always Guaranteed.

However, Tarney's most notable commercial success was with a-ha during the 1980s. Alan produced their first three albums Hunting High and Low (including their massive world-wide-hit single "Take On Me"), Scoundrel Days and Stay on These Roads.

Additional production work included sides for Squeeze, Blackie (Phil Murray), Charlie Dore, Elkie Brooks, Bow Wow Wow, Leo Sayer, Pulp, Thomas Anders, Morten Harket, The Hollies, Voice of the Beehive, The Bluebells, The Dream Academy and many others.

Discography[edit]

LP/cassette/8-track cartridge (USA)

  • Three's a Crowd A&M 4692 (1978) #174 US (menu sleeve)
  • Run For Your Life A&M 4757 (1979) #184 US (4 different colored sleeves)

LP/Cassette (UK)

  • Tarney and Spencer Bradleys (1976) LP Brad1011/TC-ZCBRA1011 No chart placing.
  • Three's a Crowd A&M AMLH68466/TC-CAM68488 (1978) No chart placing. (non-menu sleeve)
  • Run For Your Life A&M AMLH64757/TC-CAM64757 (1979) No chart placing. (UK vers sleeve)

LP+Obi (Japan)

  • Three's a Crowd A&M (1978) (possible existence)
  • Run For Your Life A&M (1979) No chart placing. (known to exist)

Singles (USA)

  • I'm your Man Rock n roll/Gunslinger Private Stock PS??? - US
  • Easier For You/Magic Still Runs... A&M AMS7358 (1978)
  • It's Really You/Bye Bye My Sweet Love A&M 2049-S (1978)
  • Takin' Me Back/Set The Minstrel Free A&M 2084-S (1978)
  • No Time to Lose/Live Again A&M 2124-S (1979)
  • Cathy's Clown/Anything I Can Do A&M 2214-S (1979) (pic sleeve)
  • No Time to Lose/Live Again A&M 2366-S (1981 re-release)
  • Three's a Crowd flexi disc 33.3 rpm (4 tracks).

Singles (UK)

  • I'm Your Man Rock N' Roll/Guitar Slinger Bradleys BRAD7603 (1976)
  • If You Knew/It's Really You Bradleys BRAD7621 (1976)
  • I Can Hear Love (edit version)/The Real Thing Bradleys BRAD7615 (1976) (picsleeve)
  • Takin me back/Set the minstrel free A&M AMS7339
  • Easier for you/magic still runs... A&M AMS7358
  • It's really you/Bye bye my sweet love A&M AMS7386
  • No Time to Lose/Live again A&M AMS7456
  • Cathys clown/Anthing I can do A&M AMS7485 (pic sleeve)

Reissue CDs

  • Tarney and Spencer UK Castle Communications 2003 (Limited private edition 1,000 CD pressing).
  • Run for Your Life Germany Polydor 1993 (Limited edition 1,500 CD pressing). A&M 540008-2.

Production credits by Alan Tarney & Trevor Spencer

  • Blackie - Making a bad boy good/Can't get by without you RAK 7" single 1979.

References[edit]

External links[edit]