JEFF CHRISTIE SOLO SESSIONS
1972-76 Sessions (UK)
Jeff was always writing new songs whenever
he could, even when the band was at the peak of popularity.
Later, after Christie split up, Jeff started composing fresh
songs at a furious rate as he embarked solely on a songwriting
career. There was a conscious effort by Jeff to move out
of the country pop pigeonhole into writing more contemporary
These are some of the songs from that period,
between 1972 to 1976. Jeff is clearly moving away from the
country pop sound to one of general rock music. Jeff also
provides some recollections on what was involved in writing
Turn The Pages Back
After The Laughter
Two wistful little ditties recorded on portable cassette
recorder. After The Laughter was
written around 1972/73 after Jeff attended a barbecue/fair,
and the song reflects the emptiness usually felt at the
end of the party. A ballad reminiscent of the
tempo of If Only, it also brought
back memories of an evening barbecue party in the grounds
of the Victoria Falls Hotel, shortly after Christie and
Edison Lighthouse were forced to leave Zambia.
Turn The Pages Back
was inspired by the style of Edith Piaf, and written at
the same time as After The Laughter. It shares a dramatic
structure similar to some of Edith's torch songs. Non, Je
Ne Regrette Rien!
To Be A Star
Rain Or Shine
These three were written around 1972/3 and home demod
using an old Grundig reel-to-reel tape deck owned by Terry
Fogg and recorded in the lounge of the house where Jeff
lived from 1973 to 1976.
Born To Be A Star is
as the song title suggests: a song about a friend who makes
good and becomes a big TV celebrity. A nice melody that
had the potential to become a solid finished product.
Sweet Jemima has a hillbilly/country
type feel, complete with mouth organ and a couple of high-pitched
"oooos" thrown in.
Rain Or Shine is a summery
ballad along the lines of John Sebastian's Daydream,
and has the same sentiment. "Come rain or shine, there's
one thing on my mind, try my best to keep my baby smiling
all the time."
demos were later tidied up with Terry on drums.
The first of several demos recorded at the Heckmondwike/Dewsbury
studios of Billy Clarke. "This song was inspired by
American singer songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, who I saw
at the Speakeasy in Margaret St, London," Jeff said.
"I was impressed by the artist and this song encapsulated
his style." It has a strong melody and could have been
turned into a srong Christie-type song. The chord progression
interacts cleverly with the top line in the build-up to
the chorus: for example, " Im waiting for ..
the sound of your .. footsteps at my door." There is
a melancholic charm that makes this one of Jeff's personal
A great, chugging pop tune about an American girl
who used to share the flats in Cornwall Gardens, London,
that Jeff and Paul moved into in 1970 as Christie were starting
to make it big. "The girl's first name was Judy, and
was affectionately called Judy Blue Eyes," Jeff said.
"When Judy left, her flat was taken by a young Ruby
Wax, who was later to become a big TV celebrity."
Jeff had always loved the song Good
Mornin Little Schoolgirl and the idea of a
song about a crush on a schoolgirl struck Jeff as a good
one at the time, when things were a lot more innocent. "These
days though, it might be considered very politically incorrect,"
Jeff said. Jeff plays all instruments, helped by Ted Platt
on bass. A nice rocker.
A hard-edged rock song with a cynical look at politicians,
and a strong catchy refrain: "Vote for me, vote for
me". You can almost see John Fogerty screaming this
one out. "I was always fascinated how charismatic figures
and populists get people to vote or endorse them by appealing,
often to the lowest common denominator with promises of
utopia," Jeff said. "I think there are many whose
ambition is to build a new and better world
but inevitably power corrupts."
Ted Platt sings on harmony and Jeff's brother
Mark plays drums, which he did on several demos. "He
was to improve in time and plays still today in a covers
band," Jeff said.
There's also an interesting part of the song where
Jeff sings in a Bryan Ferry warble. "When The Outer
Limits used to play Newcastles famous Club a Gogo
in the 60s, Bryan used to sit down at some kind of
record desk on stage in the jazz lounge and quietly put
the records on and announce the bands on start up,"
Jeff recalls. "Nobody took much notice, he was just
a quiet chubby local boy with a world domination plan in
his pocket, and hard to know he would morph into Lounge
Lizard King and international sex symbol in a few short
years. A fan from Newcastle called Caroline and some of
her pals came to see me in Christie when I did a charity
gig at Leeds Grammar School in 72 or 73 and
told me this backstage afterwards. I was surprised to realise
that we had rubbed shoulders and wouldve communicated
albeit on a small level before we were both successful later."
"I was also friendly with a guy called
John Porter from Leeds who was in Roxy Music for a while
and my last recollection is chatting with him on some suburban
street corner in Leeds sometime around the late 70s
and then he fell off my radar until I watched a documentary
on BBC a few weeks ago, and up pops John boy being interviewed
on the program. I jumped out of my chair! Id love
to make contact again, we got on well."
Jeff and Mark feature on this trio of semi-autobiographical
songs, which share a common theme.
Fairy Tale has a lovely
chorus and includes lines such as "Ive always
been a dreamer, chasin after the sun". "I
suppose Im talking of my struggle with accepting reality
versus the escapism of dreams," Jeff said. "I
think I write much of dreams and wishes, hopes and fears
as well as mini-commentaries on everyday life and what I
see and react to."
Fantasy World has a
similar structure, and another nice Jeff Christie melody.
"Let me live in a fantasy world .. Reality is not for
me, and so I need a sanctuary."
Hollywood expands on
the fantasy theme and is a tribute to the movie capital
of the world. A pleasing but short piece, and would certainly
sound great in a finished form.
This is one of Terry Fogg's favourites. A country
pop song evoking images of lazing around on a hot summer
day. Jeff uses a harmonica to give it a bit of extra texture.
I Was Young
A commercial song that would have made a good
single, with a catchy refrain. "I must have been thinking
that I was getting a bit long in the tooth, as I was looking
back with nostalgia at my youth, and the inevitable loss
of innocence that comes to us all on lifes journey,"
Jeff said. "I like the poignancy of it and even my
guitar solo tail-out." Jeff and Mark play on this demo,
which would have sounded perfect with electric guitar embellishments.
Strong power ballad, featuring Jeff, Mark
and more harmonicas. Almost plodding away, this piece demonstrates
Jeff's versatility at writing different types of songs.
Another wistful slow and really lovely ballad
by Jeff in philosophical mood, with lots of acoustic guitars.
"I liked the sweep of the middle eight and how it takes
off on a little melodic detour before coming back to the
refrain," Jeff notes.
A slower pop tune with trademark melodious
top line, and sadly, a message still as relevant today as
it was back then. "I still like this after all these
years. Its a reality for many, and some things never
change," Jeff said.
Lots of wah wah peddle used in this driving,
bluesy rocker. Jeff and Mark again, with slide guitar from
Billy Clarke, the owner of Box Studios. Bill is a talented
country music guitarist and used to be George Hamilton IIIs
doctor in the 70s.
Jeff combines two of his favourite recurring
themes (US towns and westerns) in this out-and-out rock
song. "Mark on drums, Billy takes the solos and an
overall good kickass vibe," Jeff declares.
Mark on drums kicks off the song, followed
by Jeff's electric guitar. Philosophical song about another
man of many faces .. this time a man of many moods, a melancholy
man. "I like the words to this and I like the word
melancholy, it has that indefinable quality of broodiness
about it," Jeff said.
Jeff: "Well, obviously I read Steinbeck,
a good title deserves a song as well as a book!" A
thumping song with rocking piano, and mean harp in between.
Similar sort of frenetic song as Cannery
Row, which grabs the listener at the start. Jeff
throws in a great guitar solo in between, a la Ritchie Blackmore.
"Punchy little bugger this; disregarding obvious flaws,
it still has a kind of inspired urgency that just rocks
out," Jeff said. "It settles down nicely as the
song gets underway."
While Christie were famous for their country
pop, Jeff always challenged himself to write different styles
of songs in the pop/rock/country/ballad styles of the times.
This is almost a 60s-flavoured doo-wop/harmony/pop song
about waiting for mail from the girlfriend ... "clichéd
with borrowed snatches of other songs of its type, consciously
or not, it still makes me smile listening to it," Jeff
recalls. "I think all these different types were inevitably
helping me define and hone my own style of song writing
somehow, whatever that is." Ted Platt helps on handclaps
and sings on backup with Mark and Jeff.
Hero To Zero
A terrific pop song that starts off with wailing
guitar. Nice melody with a message that could apply to certain
people Jeff has worked with. Sample verse: "You had
the world right at your feet, A legend that grew right off
the street, Until you started drinking it away, You might
have been a hero still today."
"How are the mighty fallen," Jeff
said. "Everywhere you see those two impostors Fame
and Fortune, and how we struggle to possess it and hold
on to it and how hard it is to live without the buzz of
it all about you." Ted Platt on lead guitar, Mark on
drums and cowbell, and Jeff on everything else.
Cant Happen To Me
This is very typical of 60s hard pop/rock
style that The Outer Limits specialised in, with a really
catchy singalong refrain in between. "I put my Hendrix/Dylan/All
Along The Watchtower/philosophising song writing head on,"
Jeff utilises a clavinet, which produces
the the kind of funky sound that characterises Stevie Wonder's
songs. "This was also a time for experimenting a bit
with time signatures, nothing too jazzy, just some 3/4 and
6/8 tempos often found in flamenco (an old passion) and
rekindled by Paul Fenton joining Carmen. Also I was envious
at the (alternative) music he was making, and it helped
influence some of my arrangements. The drum outro, for example,
has a kind of back to front galloping feel that brings a
sense of uncertainty and unease to it, which fits in with
the line this cant happen to me, but it
Part Of My Life
Jeff and Mark combine on this beautiful tribute
to their dad, whom they loved dearly and who was influential
in helping The Outer Limits get off the ground.
is a musical form known as a bulerias and was a homage to
Carmen, who took Jeff back to his love of flamenco. It's
completely different to any of Jeff's songs, and features
Mark on drums, Ted on acoustic lead, and Jeff on everything
else, except for a melaphonium played by a session musician.
"A challenge to play," Jeff says
with a little understatement. You can almost picture the
Spanish dancers twirling around with their castanets to
this atmospheric, moody piece that is worlds away from the
commercial offerings we would associate with Christie.
This song had the potential to become a great
Christie track. Very commercial, although Jeff believes
the song could have been polished up further. Ted on lead,
Mark on drums, and Jeff on the rest. "Loser, when are
you gonna start winning? When are you gonna start grinning?
You will never be a chooser, You will never be a user, but
you will always be my friend."
All the King's Horses
A lilting balladish piece influenced by someone
very close to Jeff who was in a terrible depression and
"so much pain it was unbearable to be close to it".
"I tried hard to help but the black dog wouldnt
budge, and the grief of the loss was just monumental. I
wrote this with the realisation that we all need help to
get through these things but ultimately we have to heal
ourselves, although for some thats not possible,"
"All the king's horses and all the
king's men, Can't put you back together again, It's up to
you now, my friend."
Jeff wrote this sad ballad in 1976 in Canada
while staying with his uncle, a man for all seasons, who
could walk with kings and commoners alike and make no distinction
between both. He made a difference, and was loved by many.
"This is a reflective song looking
back at those preposterous five years of fame with Christie,
and wondering what all the fuss was about," Jeff said.
"Though disillusion had set in long before my fathers
death in 1975, it seemed to bring a focus to bear and enable
me to crystallise all the pitfalls, greed, backstabbing
and betrayals that accompanied my journey on the good ship
Mark on drums, Ted on acoustic lead, all
other tracks, Jeff.
I said, she said
An end-of-the-affair song: a songwriters
credo "all that you see, all that you touch,
all that you feel, all that you observe, can be put to music
and verse, and then used in evidence against you,"
The song has a flamenco/Spanish 6/4 feel,
especially on the tail-out as the percussion kicks in. Just
the Christie boys on this effort.
This is a nice up-tempo pop song and based
on a real-life situation.
"In January 1975, after the band broke
up after the Mexico tour, I flew back to Acapulco to meet
up with a Brazilian girl singer called Rosemary,
who Id met whilst staying in Mexico City," Jeff
"I then went on to LA to meet up with
Brian Longley and happened on an apartment in West Hollywood
where some booking agency girls that Brian was associated
with were getting ready to go back to New York and vacate
the apartment. Brian suggested that I take it and he would
be a part tenant.
"At the time, he was trying to keep
Carmen from imploding and still looking for their big break,
and he would try to use his contacts to help me progress
my new career as a songwriter sans band!
"I settled in to the apartment, Brian
was away on Carmens final tour with Jehtro Tull, and
a girl named Jody in the apartment below me was helping
me deal with the landlord, the rent, getting the electricity
switched back on and other teething problems like phone
connections and guarantees.
"But Jody disappeared for a few days
on some romantic skiing trip to the mountains and reprioritised
me! So I wrote a song about it art imitating life?"
The demo of the song
includes a dynamic drumming intro from Paul. Jeff re-recorded
the song a few years later with Barry Kingston for the RK
studio sessions and the album that never was. The studio
version featured strings arranged by Andrew Jackman, a session
drummer, and Jeff pushing the envelope and giving it some
Set Yourself Free
Jeff is certainly versatile, able to come up with great
country pop tunes, classic hard-edged rock pieces, or exquisite
ballads. This effort is one of the latter, written for Jeff's
mum, and ranks up there among songs such as If
Only. Just Jeff on guitar and some lovely mellotron
and Paul on percussion.
Grows The Heather
Jeff revisits one of his favourite recurring themes in this
mid-tempo song about getting away from the city and savouring
the clean green life of the country."I love this song.
Crime-ridden city dweller seeks new life somewhere over
the rainbow where skies are blue, and the air is clean;
lets get away from the city!" Jeff sates. "I
do love the wilds of the moors, mountains and lakes though;
it puts things back in perspective."
Paul on drums, Ted on some electrifying
lead guitar, the interestingly-named Captain Nemo on trumpet,
and Jeff on guitars and keyboards.
More solo sessions