Disc and Music Echo, February 1972: why Christie went heavy
and then back to commercial pop.
FOR SERVICES RENDERED: ANOTHER HIT
of sight, out of mind, is a fate that seems to befall most
public figures at one time or another, but in the pop world
none have suffered this ignominy more strongly than Jeff
Christie and the lads.
Such a blank has been drawn in fact that
even the worthy Radio 1 panel discussing Christie's new
single Iron Horse compared
it only to Yellow River and
San Bernadino, as if Man
Of Many Faces and Everything's
Gonna Be Alright had never existed.
Horse, plus the group's college
tour which started on Tuesday, are certain to bring
Christie back into the British limelight for the first time
in almost two years an extraordinary state of affairs
for a group whose initial sucess smashed just about every
record in the book.
"There were lots of problems at the
start of our career," says Jeff, in ever-thoughtful
mood. "We were on the road within about two weeks of
Yellow River making the charts.
We kept our outside jobs until the very last minute and
were rehearsing in a garage the day before our very first
"So British audiences got the very
worst of Christie. We weren't playing well and didn't really
start finding our feet until Paul Fenton joined. It was
only after we started working abroad that we were satisfied
with our playing."
But although Jeff became happy with the
music, Britain was further disillusioned, first by the "new"
sound on record and the even stranger sound on stage.
"One thing was just leading to another.
We thought the reason we were failing to attract British
audiences was because of our pop music, so our immediate
step was to change the sound and deliberately get heavier.
It wasn't a drastic change to us but it certainly was to
most people. It was the wrong direction. The real reason
for us not being more popular was that the band was "untogether"
Lest you should suppose these self-deprecatory
reflections are leading to confessions of bankruptcy and
gloom, it must be said that Christie are now, and have always
been, very well off, thank you.
While Britain shunned them (and they,
in return, sem-shunned Britain), the rest of the world welcomed
them with open arms. Yellow River
has been a hit in virtually every country in the world and
Christie have played in virtually every one of them!
"But that's only half a consolation.
You can imagine our despondency on returning from South
America, where we played to crowds of 50,000, and not
being able to pull in more than 250 people to a Midlands
club," Jeff said.
So as deliberately as Christie went heavy
18 months ago, have they now reverted to the tried and trusted
sound for Iron Horse?
"I admit I was striving to write
another Yellow River,"
Jeff said. "Christie can only survive on hit singles,
which is a sad but true fact. This college tour may change
a few attitudes. There are such good musicians in this band
and they never get a chance to prove themselves.*"
If the tour succeeds, Christie could be
doing more for the good of pop music than anyone else in
the past two years.
really quite an understatement. Jeff was a child prodigy
at guitar and keyboards, Vic could play electric guitar
like no other, and Paul was and still is an astounding drummer.
This was a band that could play! - Ray <<