The Magic Highway


A loose translation of an article that appeared in the Czech publication Melodie, written by Irzhi Cherny back in 1971 when Christie had made it big with two worldwide hits.


Christie is an English trio, formed a little more than a year ago. This group uses the same instruments as the legendary Cream: a solo guitar, a bass guitar and drums, but it plays absolutely different music - like Yellow River and San Bernadino. Last year people all over the world were dancing to the beat of this super hit, Yellow River, along with Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime, although the melody of Yellow River is richer, brighter and more beautiful.
  Melodie Jeff Christie is the composer of both words and music. He is from Leeds (born in 1946) and is a passionate fan of football club Leeds United.
  In his young days, he fell in love with the steel sounds of a guitar of American rocker Duane Eddy and after graduating from high school, he was playing in various groups as a bass guitarist. He was even playing with Jimi Hendrix for some time. He was also writing songs. A few of them were even recorded by British and American singers, but he did not make a big impact. The most important song appeared in late 1968.
  "One day I just got up, it was an unusual morning, and suddenly, I decided that today I'll write a song. It was Yellow River. First, the title passed through my mind, and then the rest was just something to fit it. I know that I have the best results when I work with the song just for a few hours. Well, it was just the case," Jeff said.
  He sent his song to the Tremeloes together with his other compositions. His prediction was accurate, he could not choose a better performer of his songs. The Tremeloes almost recorded Yellow River, however, the success of their own song Call Me Number One significantly increased their self-esteem, so in the end they put Yellow River aside. No doubt, today they are tearing their hair out.
  Christie were formed to record Yellow River. Only after this recording did its premiere to the audience took place. The remaining two members of the group were, however, experienced group musicians. Brother of Alan Blakley from the Tremeloes, the drummer Mike Blakley, and the solo guitarist Vic Elmes played, for example, together in the Epics - attractions of Copenhagen club Carousel.
  After Yellow River, which has so far sold three million discs, San Bernadino came, a track with similar sound and mood. It did not reach the top of the British pop chart. But reaching No 6 was enough with the total number of points received in 1970 for Christie to become the leading British group of the year.
  "There is certain risk that people will get bored with this," Jeff Christie said. "San Bernadino is too similar to Yellow River. We, however, will have to take the risk. The time will decide. We are not purists, and there is no sense to issue non-profit records. The LPs are recorded to sell and not to play on your own gramophone."
  During the German tour in January, Christie, with a new drummer Paul Fenton, tried to perform more complex seven-minute hard-rock tracks, but German teenagers, of course, asked for Yellow River.
  "People tend to follow like sheep. Just because the big wheel says the new rave is such and such a thing," Jeff said.
  Jeff Christie has 150 ready songs, including one for Roy Orbison, whose magnificent tenor has not been heard in hits for many years. But for now, there won't be much time for writing: after tours in Brazil, Argentina, Scandinavia and Germany, Christie are probably travelling to Australia, America or Japan.
  Can we call them stars after two best selling singles?
  "To me a star is Barry Gibb, or the Beatles," Jeff said. "But it can be a vicious circle. If other artists act like stars to you, then you do too, because you don't want to feel inferior."