The Magic Highway


From Disc and Music Echo magazine, October 17, 1970.


By David Hughes

YOU might have been tempted to think over the last few weeks, that as Christie's Yellow River had dropped out of the charts and San Bernadino has only just been released, the merry trio of lads were spending their time at home in deep armchairs waiting for things to happen.
   "You must be joking," croaked a somewhat weak Jeff Christie, "I've never felt so exhausted in all my life. We've just had to cancel everything for nearly a week to try and recover, and I'm still whacked even after four days at home!
   "Yellow River has been a worldwide hit — from Argentina to Sweden — and consequently we've been dashing round the world virtually non-stop for the past three months.
   "I really never thought it would be as big a hit as this. If we'd just had a hit in England, we'd have done a few TVs and probably exhausted all the places we could play live. But this .. well, the only thing that makes me realise it's all happened is my state of health."
   And the turmoil must have hit new drummer Paul Fenton even harder than Jeff and Vic Elmes.
   "Paul joined us five weeks ago and he's been working non-stop ever since. Before that I don't think he'd travelled much at all — he'd been in a resident band mostly. It's really knocked him out, but I think given a bit more time he'll be alright."
   Another problem Jeff is finding with the current whirlwind schedule is that he's had little time to get down to writing.
   "That has been difficult. In fact, it's been almost impossible even to find time to rehearse. We've just been working through numbers on planes and in dressing rooms. I have managed to get a few ideas together in the last few days, although there's still an awful lot of songs I've stockpiled over the years waiting to record."
   But the greatest conflict is between the numbers they put to record and the numbers they play on stage.
   "We're still undecided just how we should approach our stage performances. To start with, you could say we were playing country-ish stuff. But now we're getting heavier.
   "The real problem is, some people only come to see you do Yellow River, while others come to find out exactly what you're capable of. And there is still an awful lot of snobbery about the pop scene.
   "Critics seem to like knocking us and our records - they can't accept them at face value."
   Jeff remains modest about the group's stage success.
   "I wouldn't say we've knocked everyone cold and had standing ovations — but we've been accepted and I think we've gone down moderately well."