Pope (AP): Christie and Yellow
River .. 40 years ago! And how good does Jeff
look ... fantastic. Jeff there is some confusion as
to whether Yellow River
knocked the England World Cup team's Back
Home from No 1 or was it the other way round?
Jeff Christie (JC):
Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime
was the only record getting anywhere near us. It's
documented that we knocked off Back
Home. But sometimes you make one mistake in
an interview or someone makes a mistake somewhere
and as things get out into the internet for some reason
it gets into the folklore, and if the corrrection
isn't made, it's really quite difficult to change.
All my sources, historical, show there were three
records (at the time), Question,
Back Home and Yellow
River, and Yellow River
went straight to No 1. These things are etched in
my mind, I can even tell you the date it was released,
you remember it because you're watching a dream unfold.
AP: First of all
let me paint a picture of you, Jeff. When I looked
at your age I couldn't believe it when I saw you today.
Full head of hair, nice and trim, tall, sleek, well-groomed
.. he's 63! I would have said 52.
You had this great success with
this song going back to 1970. The man with a No 1
hit all over the world, Yellow
River. Why do you want this to be a World Cup
JC: It wasn't my
idea. It was the idea of a producer named Dave Robertson,
who just really felt Yellow
River would be great as a World Cup song. I
didn't see it at first, becuse I thought, first of
all, I don't need it. The song has got an integrity
and character all of its own. It has become some sort
of a classic.
And World Cup songs can be a bit
iffy, a bit like the Eurovision songs. I wasn't really
comfortable with it, but over a period of time, Dave
brought me around, because his idea was quite novel,
and he was going to bring ska into it and he used
a few fine ska musicians, and rap as well, which is
quite different to where I come from, which was rock
and roll, country rock .. they used to say we were
the English Creedence, which I thought was quite a
compliment .. a long way from rap and ska.
You can say there are lots of multi-cultural
aspects in the song, a mixture of styles and in that
way it's quite inventive. Take a classic song from
70s and dress it up with ska and rap, which makes
it right up to date. I hope we carried it off.
River was first played on BBC Leeds?
JC: I did the demo
here. I can remember putting the track down n acoustic
guitar, vocal and snare drum. Its first hearing was
played on Radio Leeds, an up and coming song.
AR: Somebody told
me the song was offered to the Trems
JC: Oh yeh, and they
turnded it down. The band I had before Christie was
quite a successful band, had a small hit and the second
single was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, and we
toured with Hendrix. But we broke up, and I had a
period where I was writing a lot, and I had played
with all the main bands, supported them with the Outer
Back then you could get to people
and access them. As I hopefully became more competent
as a writer, I went to see artists with my songs.
I went to see the Trems with a song called Tomorrow
Night, along with my little Grundy tape
recorder. They said that's exactly what they were
trying to get away from. But they picked up on Yellow
River and started harmonising and were happy
with that. They had it for months, but decided against
releasing it. I was gutted. So I did it myself.
AP: And now Yellow
River has been reinvented as a World Cup song.
Yellow River was a No
1 song in 26 different countries. <plays song>
River was selling at 80,000 copies a day. Just
incredible. Probably in April it first was played
by (radio dj) Tony Blackburn around 8 in the morning,
and it exploded out of the radio, it sounded so great
out of the speakers. And he gave us such a great plug.
All the jocks and names of the time picked it up,
it just had something different to what else was around.
Ray Dorset is a pal of mine and
we often joke that if his group Mungo Jerry hadn't
come up with InThe Summertime
shortly after or had he come out with it three or
four weeks later, Yellow River
would have stayed far longer at the top of
the charts than its three weeks.
You knew the Leeds Utd players of old because their
stars were very much in the ascendancy like yours.
Did you feel that as Leeds did well, that you rode
off each other's back in a way?
JC: I knew people,
I used to mee them at clubs, and Jimmy Saville used
to bring them around .. people like David Harvey,
Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner .. we used
to mix and share a beer, and there was just such a
buzz, it was a nice feeling and I was a fan because
Leeds were such a great team.
AP: Were they wild
JC: It was. It was
wonderful, bit exhausting. Coming straight ot of the
60s. It was an innovative time.
AP: We are going
to hear what we hope will be the England World Cup
song, Hat-Trick of Lions.
JC: At the moment
it's on youtube. Add your comments, it all helps.
The more plays it gets, the better. There is a bit
of record company inetrest but you really have to
get a buzz going. These days it's a different ball
game. It will be out in digital form, itunes probably,
but at what particular point it will be a physical
product I'm not sure.
The producer is considerably younger
than me, and he loved the song, and he wasn't aware
of the history behind Yellow
River and Back Home.
He just thought it would make a great World Cup song.
He's a great producer and I took him seriously. <song
AP: <after song>
How good is that? I have heard several so-called World
Cup songs recently and they were garbage! But THAT
is an England Word Cup song!
JC: The ska feel
is great. There's also a few different mixes coming
out. In the old days you just got in the studio and
got it out on the radio. But these days the techniques
are just amazing.
You hope everyone is goingto like
it and that people will accept it in the spirit that
it is in, a bit of fun.
AP: Listeners are
calling in, loving it. Someone says let's get it out
in the record stores, I want to buy it, another says
I am dancing around the room listening to it. Come
On England, fantastic! What do we call it?
JC: You don't call
it Yellow River, you
call it Hat-Trick of Lions.
The BBC Unplugged
team: Gareth Jones (left), Andy Ritchie and
AP: Listeners are
calling in, wanting to hear it again. We'll play the
song again before the end of the show. Jeff, do you
JC: I do. I resurrected
Christie in 1990. Very rarely we perform here, but
more so in Scandinavia, Germany .. particularly there
.. Belgium, TV in Barcelona, and we were very close
to touring the US but nowadays the security is ridiculous
and there were a few permit hassles, and there is
interest from Estonia .. we also played at Antwerp
in front of 15,000 people.
AP: How many of the
original members are left in Christie?
JC: There's only
me. Christie was really only a vehicle for me. It
was built around my songwriting. The current band
members have been with me longer than the original
setup. I only keep in touch with one of the older
members, Paul Fenton.
AP: Jeff, I wish
you all the best. Let's get behind this song and I'm
not saying this because Jeff is here. We know a hit
when we hear one. This is the England World Cup song!
In 1970, Leeds were top of the
table, Yellow River and
the England team both topped the charts; today, Leeds
have got promoted, England are in the World Cup, Yellow
River has been remixed into a World Cup song
.. Jeff Christie has timed it absolutely perfectly!
Here's the song again ...