The Magic Highway


Reprinted from Record Mirror, April 1971. Christie's third single was just released.



AT this time in their career, Christie are probably as nervous as they have ever been.
   Third time lucky goes the saying, but a third single can be just as worrying, particularly as the group are trying to reorganise their act, and more gradually their image.
   The pressure has obviously made its mark and Jeff Christie sat thoughtful before answering each question, constantly clutching the hand of his visiting Danish girlfriend Connie, and wearing her inscribed bracelet on his wrist.
   "The problem is people seem to think we are a manufactured group who answered an advertisement or something," Jeff said. "But in fact we've all been slogging around the clubs for years.
   "I alone have been playing with other bands for 10 years, and I was on the first Hendrix tour.
   "Before Christie were formed to release
Yellow River, I was working in a club and spending time writing because I wanted to build myself as a songwriter and perhaps a recording entity. Then everything happened so fast."
   Jeff's composition Yellow River had been collecting dust for some time before it was decided that Christie would be formed to record the single. As The Tremeloes had already recorded a backing track, they agreed that Christie could put the main vocal onto this. The number was put out through the Tremeloes' publishing company, which is profitable from the point of view of royalties.
   "It was a question of speed," Jeff said. "We had heard that Leapy Lee was going to record Yellow River and obviously we wanted to do it before.
   "Every record we're released since, all of the album and the singles has been one hundred percent us."
   Besides the recording problems, the rush events have had longer lasting effects on Christie.
   "I had been off the road for 10 months, and Vic Elmes and Mike Blakley had worked together, but I'd never worked with them. We had to go for an act that was fairly easy to learn. I wanted to do some rock and roll, and I suppose you could say our album was fairly representative of what the band was like at the time."
   But Mr Christie, like his latest song subject Man of Many Faces, is a changeable character.
   "We wanted to move into different things long ago, but unfortunately Mike was a bit weak and couldn't do it," Jeff said. "With a three-piece group, you're only as strong as your weakest man.
   "Now we're doing 80 percent of our own material on stage, and songs like Rock'n'Roll Woman, the Buffalo Springfield number, but the way we do it is drier; and we also do Tobacco Road. We've also cleaned up Hey Joe, but we stick nearer to the Tim Rose version than the Hendrix one. It's been going down a storm."
   Jeff stresses that the group's movement into different working venues and into performing original material on stage has had to be carefully planned, and that Christie work to please the audiences.
   Jeff has kept essentially to the Christie image for the current single. The lyrics are quite interesting, and though the tune is different, it bears the Christie sound.
   Jeff is also hopeful that their new album will prove their capabilities. "It's still got the jangly guitar sound, which is out trademark," Jeff explained. "But it is more chunky, though we couldn't go much harder. You have to take people with you, especially those who bought the last two records. You just can't push them. But if this single happens, it would give us a wider field for the next one."