Graeme Logan (GL):
Jeff, welcome to the program. There's quite a bit
of interest again in Christie. Why do you think that
Jeff Christie (JC):
Theres always been a certain amount of demand from
songs from my era, the 60s and 70s, and there are
some great records from the time, and I made two or
three records that made an impact.
GL: At the mmoment
there's a double
album on the way out in August. Do you want to
tell us about that?
JC: Well, this is
an interesting album because it really is a compilation
of songs that were mainly demos, that I put together,
sometimes with guys in the band, or various personnel
that happened to be in my den at the time. It was
like a notepad that I would take to the band and re-record
in a later stage in a more sophisicated studio where
we had the benefit of engineers and producers and
more time. You can listen to a songwriter's song today
and it's so clinically perfect and pristine .. sometimes
there's a lack of soul to them, you know everything's
been fiddled aorund with to that extent. The songs
on this album are very .. well .. you can hear the
warts and all .. you can hear the progression of the
songs, and in a way that's quite refreshing I think.
You can hear bum notes and tape droupouts even, but
I think there's a certain validity to it.
GL: Do you have any
favourite tracks from this album?
JC: I have a lot of favourite tracks. It's hard
to pinpoint anything down.There's a very rocky Christie-type
thing called Abilene,
and there's another called Loser.They're
probably as close to what people thought Christie
sounded like. The rest is very varied, different songs
from different time spans right through the 70s.
GL: Is the line-up
for Christie still the same as in the 70s?
JC: No, no. It's
completely changed. The band broke up in '74 and I
didn't play live for quite a long while. It wasn't
till the 90s that I resurrected a band. I was producing
a band called Tubeless
Hearts and they put in one
of my songs for Eurovision, strangely enough.
They knew all my records and the songs and were very
interested to play again (with me). And that's been
the line-up since they became the second or third
Christie. These guys have been with me longer than
anybody from the 70s, literally since the 1990s.
GL: Let's remind
everybody about the most famous single from yourself,
Yellow River, how many
countries was that successful in?
JC: This is a question
that has been asked a lot of times, but from my information
it was No 1 in 26 countries, and and in pretty every
record-buying country, it was top 10 or 20. A big
record in the States and stayed in the charts for
six months. They tought it was a Vietnam song in America
and on my website there are
a lot of Vietnam vets who have written in about
the song, which is fascinating as it was intended
to be about the American civil war. It goes to show
how people put their minds and interpretation to things
and songs and I'm happy with that.
Jeff in 1976.
GL: When your old
band the Outer Limits broke up, was that a surprise?
JC: It was very much
a surprise. It took us fours years to break through
and Andrew Oldham was very interested in the band
and recorded the second single. The
first single would have been regarded a hit by
today's stanbdard. And then we did the
Hendrix tour, the last of the big package tours,
we opened that tour. Unfortunately we didn't get the
support of the record company and ran out of money
and people just got fed up of waiting. The band broke
up not long after that and I went into songwriting.
I really wrote a lot and that was the time when Yellow
River was written. So I was very disappointed
when Outer Limits broke up but it did lead on to bigger
and better things.
GL: Christie have
toured a lot. Have there been any live recordings
JC: A lot of live
recordings are on an amateur level. There's a lot
of stuff on youtube
from fans and things like that. But there's a live
recording on this album (One
Way Ticket), going back to the album No
Turn Unstoned, it was done in rehearsal in
CBS studios but it's the band playing live.
GL: There are lots
of covers of Yellow River,
you impressed with any?
JC: Very good question.
There are a few. Not many! Because most of the cover
artists have just copied the original. Having said
copied the original and it's quite exciting for REM
to take their hats off to the song.I remember I read
REM's Mike Mills saying they loved the song when they
were younger. Elton John recorded it, but again very
similar to the original but some of the versions I
have been impressed with .. there's an amazing bluegrass
version by Doyle
Lawson and Quicksilver, it's just fantastic, and
there are a few versions like that. It wasn't just
Yellow River that had
covers, the other two hits San
Bernadino and Iron Horse
have had their fair share of covers. There's a Swedish
punk band called
Satanic Surfers who do this amazing version of
San Bernadino which you
would virtually not recognise, such a wild, thrashing
punk version of it. It's very flattering when people
cover your songs because they wouldn't cover them
if they didn't like them or thought they were rubbish,
so you've got to take that as a compliment. There
are some very good Finnish and Estonian versions of
Iron Horse. And of course
Joe Dassin was a very big French arist who did Yellow
River but it was called L'Amerique,
a bvig hit right across the French Canadian territories.
GL: How much touring
are Christie now doing?
JC: I play, I do
TV, sometimes with the band, sometimes on my own.There
are other things in my life which are important to
me, like writing, and if I was on the road all the
time, I wouldn't be able to write. First and foremost
I'm a songwriter. Performing is something I still
ejoy doing from time to time. I don't do heavy tours
and I tend to be selective in what I do. I did a big
French TV show a few months ago which had a 70
million viewership across the globe, which is pretty
good. So the train is still rolling, it just isn't
steaming along the tracks.