An Interview with
(Extracts from a series of chats conducted by Ray Chan)
When and how did you team up with Jeff Christie?
A. There is a slight Jimmy Saville
connection. Simon Kay from our band Tubeless Hearts knew Jimmy
through a mutual friend, David Gloan (who we did a record
with for ITV's Telethon 90 with well-known DJ and presenter
James Whale) and both
David and Jimmy, of course, knew Jeff. Jeff was wanting to
re-arrange Yellow River and re-record
it with a different band. He would be "hands-on"
with regard to production and arranging, but not play on it.
And so we met, and began our long
working relationship. The result was of course, the Tubeless
Hearts version of Yellow River,
which I was really proud of, and I must say, I was impressed
with the way Jeff could take a step back from the song and
look at it in a fresh way, which I'm sure must have been very
difficult. He was willing to hear our input, which was good,
and was, and is, very exacting in a studio environment, which,
whilst sometimes nerve-shredding, teaches you a few things!
I think Jeff is from the old school where songwriting really
was a craft, and a sense of arrangement the key to a successful
We really worked at getting our version
of Yellow River off the ground,
Jeff was still dealing with Brian Longley at Talent Incorporated
(they were managing the likes of Imagination at that time)
and we had several meetings with Brian in London I seem to
remember. Brian seemed to me on first impression to be a rarity
in showbusiness, a manager that cared, and a good guy. We
were full of enthusiasm at his plans. We had great interest
from a number of labels worldwide, including Powderworks in
Australia, and I think MCA in America.
Then, out of the blue, Brian was tragically
killed in a road accident. We were all stunned. I'm sure it
hit Jeff hard, they had worked together for many years. The
idea of the single was dead in the water.
However, we kept in touch with Jeff,
and as the 80s drew to a close, the calls were getting louder
for 20th Anniversary tours to celebrate Yellow
River. I think Jeff was initially reticent to get back
on the road, but I like to think that because we all had a
good rapport it swung him in favour. The rest, as they say,
Q. You sang on one of Jeff's songs for
A: The Eurovison project came later. Jeff was invited
by the songwriters guild to submit a song for consideration,
and we'd done a number of gigs by the time we went into our
own studio to begin work on Safe
In Your Arms. Once again, Jeff was meticulous in his requirements
when we were recording. I think we all had the feeling that
the song was "far too good for Eurovison!" My own
memory of the sessions was of Jeff pushing me to take the
edge out of my lead vocal, and to sing it very soft and breathy,
which was something I had never tried before. I think it works
Q. Can you provide a brief chronology
of events and performances?
A. I'm pretty sure our first gig with Jeff was Barrow-In-Furness
Abbey, an outdoor show with The Rubettes, followed by The
Irish Centre, Leeds (I have film of Jeff interviewed prior
to the gig, and us performing Fools
Gold for the TV). Our first overseas show was The Sports
Stadium, Antwerp, which I think was 1990.
I remember getting ready for the Antwerp
show, we'd gone into the make-up room pre-gig (it was a televised
show, so I guess they needed to powder our shiny faces!) and
we were asked to place our hands in this square of wet cement,
which we duly did, and signed it. There were photos on the
wall of the likes of Tina Turner and Rod Stewart doing the
same, even Ivan Lendl, the tennis player. So I asked what
the story was. "Oh," said the woman, "We have
a wall of fame here, and each cement tile goes on it".
"With Tina and Rod?" I asked.
"Why yes!" came the reply. Good enough, I thought!
Further recollections include our
tour of Israel in 1994, which was humbling in many ways. We
were very well looked after, and it was a privilege to have
the chance to visit Jerusalem and Yad Vashem, the museum of
the holocaust. Just getting off the plane at Ben Gurion and
seeing young women in army combats toting Uzis was mind-blowing!
Remember, this was pre-Lara Croft! It was while we were out
there that I got confirmation that I was to appear on ITV's
Stars In Their Eyes as Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott, so it was
a memorable time.
Our recorded output with Jeff has
been a little thin on the ground. Apart from our Tubeless
Hearts Yellow River, we did record
Yellow River with Jeff in our
studio, but I'm not sure what became of it ... it may be on
one or two newer compilations. San Bernadino
we did for Absence of
Time CD, and Happy Christmas
for the Thomas Gottschalk CD.
Safe in Your Arms for Eurovision.
However, we did record most of the Christie set at Academy
Studios in Dewsbury, and I have a rough copy which I want
to clean up. It has no lead vocals on, just backing vocals,
and I want to record the vocals myself and perhaps do a "Kev
sings Christie" CD, but I'd like to talk to Jeff about
It's a shame we never did more, I
always wanted to. Last year I had an idea for Christie to
perhaps perform For All Mankind
in its entirety with guest artists, and film it for a live
DVD. It hasn't happened, but 'd still love to do it!
Q. What's the current status
A. I think the best way to describe Christie at the moment
is like an emergency doctor: Always on call! I'm certainly
always ready to gig if something comes along, as I'm sure
the others are too. I imagine us being onstage sometime in
the future and Jeff paraphrasing the Eagles: "For the
record, we never broke up, we just took a vacation!"
Tubeless Hearts still function on
occasion, but feature only Simon and the very first guitarist
from 1981, Trev Sargent. Although I haven't yet, I'm sure
when I'm in the UK at some point I'll get up and jam with
them. Fos and I are talking about collaborating on some songwriting.
Q. You have played with tribute bands
and heavy metal bands. You also play various other forms of
music. Which do you prefer?
A. Yes, I love the variety of what I do. I feel very privileged
to have been able to play worldwide such a diverse selection
of music. From country rock to punk, glam rock to heavy metal,
not forgetting the reggae and standards of my solo shows.
It's all part of a musical education.
As a bass player, I wanted to really
get beneath the surface of reggae for example. I spent the
last two winters in the Caribbean and listened to the different
styles coming out of all the islands. It is a tough discipline
to sing lead and play bass on reggae songs, they go in opposite
directions! I enjoy that sort of challenge.
Q. Any interesting anecdotes that you
A. Elsewhere in
the site you have my thoughts on our Russian tour, which
was wonderful, but regarding our flight from St Petersburg
to London .... the trip between Moscow and St Petersburg had
been eventful to say the least, taking off and landing in
blizzard conditions in a very dodgy plane indeed. Anyway,
we all did a great show in St. Petes, and boarded our flight
home with some trepidation.
In a surreal moment, we had been followed
around Russia by John Major, ex-UK Prime Minister, who'd been
on a book tour, and he was on our flight. So the plane was
packed with 70s luminaries such as Slade, Glitter Band, Mungo
Jerry, Christie and John Major, ex-PM. I think it was as we
hit a particularly nasty bit of turbulence that Dave Hill
piped up in his inimitable Brummie accent: "We'll make
the front page tomorrow if this goes down!" It wasn't
a well received announcement!
Christie career highlights
Invited to reform Number 1 selling group Christie with
Jeff Christie, following his production and arrangement
of Tubeless Hearts version of Yellow
River. The new Christie make their first appearance
at the Golden Years festival in Antwerp, Belgium.
1992: Features with Christie
on Absence of Time CD.
1994: Tubeless Hearts release
their first full-length CD called Three. All
songs written by Kev Moore and Fos Foster. Christie
tours Israel, Belgium and Germany, and appears on TV
all over Europe.
1994: After appearing on
the ZDF special Let's Have a Party with German
TV's Thomas Gottschalk, Christie feature on Thommy's
Xmas Party CD (Happy Christmas,
War is Over).
1998: Records Dedication
- Under the Covers
with acclaimed producer Clyde Ward; the album of
covers includes Yellow River.
Appears with Christie at the Golden Years festival in
2001: Tours Russia with
Christie, a triumphant trip for the first Western pop
group the Soviet bloc had seen on TV back in 1970.
2001-2003: Forms power
trio The Hit List with Dave Sargent and Simon Kay from
Tubeless Hearts. Appears with Christie at various German
Embarks on a solo career performing all over the Mediterranean
and Caribbean regions, developing a wider musical repertoire,
including a reggae show. Continues to perform with Christie
at several gigs, as well with other bands.