Ever wondered whether
the simple Christie pop style was deliberate? Jeff reveals
this and more in this article which appeared in the August
22, 1970 issue of the Spanish music magazine Mundo Joven.
At the time, Yellow River was
charting round the world.
By Jose Maria Inigo
WITH its catchy rhythm and easily recognisable
melody, Yellow River
is easily this year's summer sensation.
The song has for four weeks been number one in New
Musical Express and Melody Maker, the most important music
magazines of the UK.
Christie consists of three musicians: Vic Elmes,
guitar; Mike Blakley, percussion; and Jeff Christie, bass
"We were part of other groups during various
years and we have enough experience to know that a false
start could sink us forever," Jeff warned.
"At the moment, under the name of Christie,
we are a group with a number one record.
"When we have sufficient strength to present
ourselves in public, we will do it.
"Meanwhile - and since the only thing we want
to do is make records - we are going on vacations until
the end of September.
"Then with new recordings we will consider the
As you can tell by their statements, Christie are
"Like hundreds of musicians of bands, we have
suffered different phases in our career," Jeff said.
"We have made money, we have gone hungry, and
we have gone crazy in order to pay for our instruments and
"Until a few days ago, until we saw how Yellow
River was travelling, we had been performing
for a pittance in small cities and summer villages. We have
now suspended that activity.
"We have the opportunity to change, thanks to
Yellow River, and we are going to
give it a try."
"I wrote Yellow
River 18 months ago," Jeff said.
"I wrote it thinking about the Tremeloes, and
"But after their enormous success with Call
me number one, they only decided to record
their own material and rejected mine."
Then Tremeloes producer Mike Smith, trying not to
slight the boys, and because of their friendship with Tremeloes
member and Mike's brother Alan, invited them to a trial
didn't sound bad and they decided to record
Success was instantaneous.
The Tremeloes lamented not having recorded the song,
and in a show of friendship - to avoid any type of resentment
- incorporated the song in their repertoire as well as recording
it in Spanish for Spain and Latin American Spanish-speaking
countries (No Comprende).
Christie's own repertoire, however, is still not
"We will include old songs from the likes of
Carl Perkins and Presley. Songs like Slow
Down, Blue Suede Shoes, etc," Jeff
"We will play music for everybody, but none
of that "underground" or similar experiments.
"We have all had various experiences in this
area and we have agreed that there is little purpose in
getting ahead of the majority.
"Our style, although still not being clearly
definable, will be simple and clear for everybody. Yellow
River is an example."
Vic Elmes and Mike Blakley were once in a group called
The Epics, based in Scandinavia.
They worked exclusively for money doing cover versions
of world hits until they got sick of it.
"We got sick of everything, all the people of
this world, of the music, of other musicians, of the agents,
of everything," Vic said.
Nevertheless they have interesting memories of Stockholm,
Oslo and especially Club Carousel, in Copenhagen.
At the time they were restricted to performing songs
from other groups.
Today Jeff Christie, the creator of the trio, has
written more than 150 numbers. Jeff, 23, apart from being
the bass player, is the lead singer as well as composer.
When he was asked how he wrote Yellow
River, he didn't know how to answer, limiting
himself to say that one day when he was having breakfast
he decided he was going to write a song.
"I thought that the title Yellow
River would go well and in 10 minutes I
had the number completed," he said.
"I never thought it was a great song, but there
"I think that the songs I have like most, after
having composed them, are the ones that have taken me one
or two hours, no more.
"When the words don't marry with the notes I
prefer to leave it."
Jeff has been in the music world since he was 18
years old, and has done it all.
He has worked assisting Georgie Fame and the Tremeloes
when they were accompanying Brian Poole, and before that,
he was a recording technician in different London studios.
He played the organ, guitar and bass, but was above
all a songwriter.
"During two years I was experimenting with the
sounds, I studied blues and bass and the depths of the most
warped and baroque underground," he said.
"Now I love the simpleness of Simon and Garfunkel
and am disturbed by the 'dark' sound now coming from some
"I don't want anything else in my recordings
but guitar, bass and percussion.
"I love simplicity and hate arrangements thought
out like symphonies. I am direct and everything I do should
be that way."