The Magic Highway


From the June 1970 issue of Beat Instrumental, a magazine devoted to sound and studio recording techniques.

In the studio

JEFF Christie would have been happier had his group Christie not been formed.
   Why so regretful? Jeff wrote Yellow River and it was extracted from a pile of tapes in the fond hope that The Tremeloes would record it. In fact, they did, but in Spanish, for release in South America and Spain.
   "Actually, I'm choked they didn't record it in Britain and America," Jeff said. "I'm certain it would have done them a lot more good than (their single) By The Way, and it also would have been a lot more better for me."
   Having had it turned down, Jeff could have returned it to the pile of dust-collecting tapes and thought no more about it. But there was considerable interest from managers and agents. So Christie the group was formed, primarily for the recording sesson.
   But the three members aren't new to pop. Group drummer Mike Blakley is younger brother of Tremeloes lead guitarist Alan. Mick covered most of Britain working with Vic Elmes, now Christie lead guitarist, but then with Acid Gallery and The Epics.
   "I did have my own group, The Outer Limits, but I broke them up last May," Jeff said. He lives in Leeds, but still concentrates on working in backing bands for visiting cabaret artists.
   "But we'll be making live appearances with Christie," he said. "We've already taped some variety performances, such as for the Mike and Bernie Winters Show. But I'll also carry on with the cabaret work!"
   What Jeff is concentrating on is an idea for boosting the sound of his three-piece band. "It's fine in the studios, but on stage you can't double-track things and you have to augment. We're hoping to add someone who can play electric piano. I already play bass, piano and Indian nose flute, but it'll be impossible for me to add all those sounds as well as sing. If we can find a good pianist, though, I'd like to feel freer to move around, featuring different instruments.
   "Vic uses a Fender guitar, and Mike, as well as playing Ludwig drums, is trying to learn piano. But apart from augmenting, we've some other ideas.
   "When I was with The Outer Limits, we used an old five-foot high coffin as an amplifier. The father of one of the boys made coffins and that gave us the idea. We fitted it out with speakers and found that the sound was very satisfying. It gave more depth, somehow. So we'll go on using the coffin with Christie!"
   Jeff has stockpiled over 130 songs and reckons there at least 20 he hasn't yet taped. "I used to write music down," he said. "But now I prefer to tape my own compositions. I write the words down and I can hold the melody lines in my head for eight, nine or ten months. Then I get to taping them."