JEFF CHRISTIE SOLO SESSIONS
Gil Markle Sessions
(Longview Farm, Massachusetts, USA)
Paul Fenton's flamenco group, Carmen, recorded
its last album at Longview Farm Studios, N Brookfield, Massachusetts
in 1975. Jeff joined them there, and recorded some songs
on his own, backed up by all the members of Carmen.
Other performers included Jesse Henderson, Annie
McClune, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra string section.
The songs were engineered by Gil Markle, and produced by
A boppy, poppish song for which the demo is available on
Markle's site. The finished version contains an extra
verse. The song ends with Annie McClune on tail-out vocals,
making this possibly the first of Jeff's recordings to use
a female singer.
Some skillful guitar picking by Jeff introduces this lilting
ballad. Once again Jeff shows his ear for a great, melodic
Not a track that appeals instantaneously, this nevertheless
is probably the best song that Jeff has written. It contains
superb lyrics and a simply wonderful melody for the chorus,
focusing on a man's hurting despite his apparent success.
Jeff plays vibraphone, acoustic and electric guitars, piano
and synthesiser. The song climaxes in a stunning, angelic
choral arrangement, supplied by the members of Carmen.
The song had been submitted to Dave Dee (of Dave
Dee, Dozy, Mick and Tich fame) for release as a Jeff Christie
solo single when Dave was at Atlantic in 1975, but Dave
procrastinated and nothing eventuated.
"I think I'm safe and sound, both feet on the ground,
I can open any door
"I don't make mistakes, and I get all the breaks, the
sun and moon are mine, and more
"I'm turning to stone ... on the outside, everything's
"I'm turning to stone ... feeling so cold, deep in
my soul, turning to stone."
The song was written almost as a challenge. Drummer Jesse
Henderson had laid down a drum track with no other instruments,
and Gil asked Jeff to compose something around it. Jeff
wrote some words, thought of a melody, and even got the
string section from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to participate.
Ba Ba Boo Bah
A jokey tribute to Paul, who used to walk around singing
drum patterns, and driving everyone nuts! Jeff and most
of the members of Carmen sang on this song, whose lyrics
consisted mainly of "Ba Ba Boo Bah".
piece had originated from John Glascock (right) after being
inspired by Paul, who could often be heard singing the drum
arrangements while going about whatever other business he
might have been engaged in on the farm. In fact, as Jeff
recalls, this was an endearing habit of Paul's, who had
and still does have a manic energy that turns him into a
mouth drummer par excellence.
piece was so Paul, aggresive and funny at the same time,"
Jeff said. "John bent my ear with the basic rhythm
track, which I think consisted of bass and great drums,
and John, Bob, and Angela tracked up on the theme of Ba
Ba Boo Ba.
song didn't get finished by Carmen because they were already
in the process of breaking up. When I returned to the farm
to put some finishing touches on my stuff, Gil Markle asked
me if I could complete the track as a sentimental gesture.
I can't claim to have written this song in full although
I added quite a lot, and in that sense I became a part of
the writing, arrangement and performance team.
"But more importantly for me, as well as helping to
finish the track, the song sort of became a little in-house
tribute to Paul and the band that he believed in so much
after leaving me; the sadness of watching a band in its
death throes made it somehow very poignant and I suggested
arranging parts of the song to include already written parts
of other Carmen songs so that they might act as a
nostalgia memory trigger and found slots for these
in the track.
"I was just pleased to help my friends and privileged
to be included by some special musicians to be invited to
join the party."
(Academy Studios, Dewsbury, UK)
Jeff recorded these songs between 1985
and 1990. He played all the instruments.
Shake Off These Chains
A rocker which really kicks in after the opening introductory
verse, when Jeff utilises some great drumwork. I
Gotta Be Free revisited!
Long Distance Love
A slow ballad about love via a telephone. It has a nice,
Back In The Jungle
Another song with a very 80's feel, using synthesizers and
drum programming. Would have been a good single back in
the decade of the new wave romantics.
(PUK Studios, Denmark)
Jeff was asked to produce an album for
CMC Records in Denmark, called "Christie: Latest and
Greatest". The premise was for Jeff to record some
of his old songs and some new ones. Two Danish session players,
a bass player and a drummer, worked with Jeff on the new
tracks. Sadly, halfway through the recording process, the
company was taken over by EMI, and the project was left
hanging in mid-air.
The songs remain uncompleted,
and exist only in demo form. There is a clear progression
in Jeff's works with these efforts though, with some outstanding
lyrics produced by his pen.
Driving Down to Memphis
This song sees Jeff revisit his country-pop roots, as he
attempts to recreate the Christie sound. It would've sounded
fantastic as a finished product. As it is, it even sounds
good in this raw form. Down the Mississippi
Better By Now
As mentioned, Jeff is not just a great composer of melodies,
he also puts together some very clever and poignant words
to his songs. This track contains incisive, intelligent
"Got me thinking 'bout the two of us
"The way we live our lives
"When it's good, its good, but when it's bad
"We sharpen up our little knives
"But you know, and I know, and we know
"We should know better by now."
Another great work just waiting to be converted into a final
masterpiece. A ballad with a superb melody, more clever
lyrics, and a no-nonsense message.
"Too many differences, too many promises
"Too many arguments that cause too many wars
"We are responsible for what we do and say
"Maybe a better future starts today ...
"If we start building bridges, we can cross that great
"To surrender our defenses, put away our wounded pride."
Without a Trace
This love song utilises beautiful imagery in its words.
"Falling like a leaf, that spirals in the snow
"Tumbling thru the mist, down and down I go
"Spinning like a twisted wheel, hanging by a thread
"And I will be ..
"Lost without a trace, a smile without a face,
"If you ever leave, I will never be found."
One in a Million
A more uptempo song as Jeff sings about striving to be "one
of a kind". A very raw demo. We can only guess at how
the final version would have turned out.
Crash and Burn
Good advice from Jeff: don't be too hasty or you'll crash
and burn. Another piece in a very basic, unrefined state,
just begging for a Jeff Christie guitar hook.
A slower track with meaningful, very clever, more mature
lyrics about the journey through life. Nothing as simple
as Here I Am or I've
Got a Feeling here!
"Only ticketed passengers can board this moving train
"Thru the tunnel of pleasure to the pyramid of pain
"Colour-coded tapestries, kaleidoscope dreams,
"Rocky mountain vistas bathed in shadows and light
"There's a blue horizon in your mind
"There's a bridge we all must cross
"Every one of us
"If we want to reach the other side."
Danish Songwriting Workshop
Jeff had been selected with a few other
writers from the British Association of Composers and Songwriters
for a collaboration project with Danish writers and performers
for a weeks workshop in Copenhagen in 1998. Jeff had
to co-write six songs in six days, each with a different
Danish composer. During that week, Jeff also produced a
song on his own, recorded in a small studio on the waterfront
with Danish producers Anders and Lars Juhl.
Welcome to Cafe Christabel, the source of the coolest, lounge
sounds around! Visualise Jeff in a nightclub as he sings
this bossa nova tune.
More solo sessions