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The Magic Highway

 

New Musical Express magazine, April 10, 1971, ran this article to commemorate Christie's first anniversary.


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By Roy Carr

IT has become increasingly obvious that certain spheres of music are now resembling fanatical political arenas, where one's personal freedom to listen to whatever pleases you has become questionable and subject to ridicule.
   Wishing to have absolutely no involvement with such controversies, bands like Christie are satisfied to get on with the job in hand .. namely that of keeping their public entertained in the best way they know how.
   Having just chalked up their first anniversary as a popular international recording act, Christie now admit to finding themselves at the crossroads.
   With a newly grown beard taking just a slight edge off his almost glossy-magazine good looks, Jeff Christie took stock of the various events which have graced their first gold-plated year.
   "The trouble is that most people tend to forget we are a very new band and it wasn't until Paul Fenton joined on drums that thngs began to gel properly."
   Following such a worldwide hit smash as Yellow River, a follow-up is a little easier to achieve, but it is the third release which often proves to be the crucial testing point.
   But as their full date book reveals, Christie aren't one of those bands whse acceptance or appeal rotates purely on record sucess, for their numerous in-person tours have resulted in a continuous string of lucrative re-bookings throughout the hemisphere.
   With the release of their new single Man of Many Faces, they have slightly deviated from their original hit formula, being of the collective opinion that it is the kiss-of-death to constantly repeat oneself musically.
   "We want to arrive at the position where we are able to put out any kind of music," Jeff said, with approval from his friends.
   "The Beatles never had a set pattern .. if you're tied to one particular thing then it's bound to become boring for both the audience and us."
   Of their forthcoming second album, Jeff feels that for the very first time, they'll be able to demonstrate their newer found freedom and logical maturity.
   "Now it's just a matter of getting people to listen to it and to respect us for what we are doing .. that's something every band wants, respect."
   But if their music is of the inoffensive genre, they have managed to garner some recent controversial headlines.
   To set the record straight and to clarify any misunderstandings, Jeff began with the Prince Charles incident, explaining: "When we were told we had received a Carl Alan award (for best vocal record) for Yellow River, we were so busy we didn't realise what such a presentation involved. The truth of the matter is that none of us has a suit in the wardrobe.
   "Our non-appearance wasn't in any way a knock against Prince Charles, we didn't have enough time to get any suitable clothes and we weren't going to hire evening suits that wouldn't fit properly.
   "Anyway, the award was for merit and not for the kind of clothes you wear. These kinds of affairs tend to get blown up out of all proportions with everyone getting new clothes or special hairdos, which results in the whole thing becoming false."
   Christie's non-appearance was to have repercussions and mud-slinging when The Tremeloes exposed the fact that they had been responsible for the instrumental backing track on Yellow River.
   "This has been hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles," Jeff began as he unfolded the truth.
   "I sent a tape of some songs that I had written to the Trems when they were appearing at Batley two years ago. Yellow River was just one of the many originals that I had put on that tape.
   "They heard it, they liked it, recorded it and were going to put it out as a single, but at the very last minute decided against it as Leapy Lee was going to do a cover.
   "So it was agreed that I shoud do it and do it quickly. The Trems' backing track was used with their blessing, the reason being that the drummer I had at the time wasn't good. It was just the same as doing a session."
   But Jeff took pains to point out that it was both Vic and himself doing all the vocals on the record.
   Though this has always been common knowledge within the business, Jeff had always been secretly worried of any resulting comeback.
   "But that was the first and only time we had ever done that. Since then everything we have done has been just with the band."