The Magic Highway


Reviews of early Christie concerts


(By Gordon Sampson,
New Musical Express, August 1970)

roy orbison at batley

The Batley Club is a famous entertainment venue in Leeds, Jeff's hometown. When Roy Orbison performed there, he returned Jeff's phone call about recording All The Love .. but they missed each other, so it was an opportunity lost.

CHRISTIE'S break from a heavy concert schedule for a week's cabaret at Batley Variety Club met with a mixed reception at Saturday night's opening.
   Their pop and blues numbers appealed to the younger members of the audience, but the older people seemed bewildered by the volume of it all.
   There were no pretensions to be all-round entertainers. They concentrated on playing their own brand of music, ranging from original compositions to some of the big hits from the rock era.
   Bass guitarist and lead singer Jeff Christie harmonised with Vic Elmes on an Everly Brothers medley (Bye Bye Love/All I Have To Do Is Dream/Bird Dog). The Chuck Berry influence came in Put Your Money Down.
   San Bernadino, a track from the forthcoming album and a possible choice for their next single, featured Jeff's vocal talent and there was some good guitar work from Vic on this story song.
   Drummer Mike Blakley provided a good rhythm for their act, which was climaxed by their hit Yellow River.


(By Roy Carr,
New Musical Express,
October 1970)

Christie in Sweden

The overwhelming response which greeted Yellow River in Sweden - and around the world - has been completely beyond the group's wildest expectations.
   Now it's down to a basic case of supply and demand .. for such is the speed with which their fame has spread that foreign impresarios wait in line to sign Jeff Christie, Vic Elmes and newcomer Paul Fenton for appearances.
   I met the lads in Stockholm in the middle of their frantic whistle jet-stop tour of Scandinavian and European capitals, before a lenghty visit to South America.
   As we sped to the Esso Hotel Motel, Jeff gave me a quick progress report on the tour: gigs in southern Spain, marathon TV extravaganzas in Italy, and "would you believe yesterday we spent the whole day charging around some medieval German castle dressed up as monks," he laughingly told me.
   We arrived at our hotel in Kurgens Karva, and prepared to flop out in the contemporary comfort of our rooms. This was short-lived as Christie's regular companion, a Glaswegian named Booby, dragged everyone out to attend a press reception at Stockholm's Tudor Arms. Following a photo session, interviews and some rather large measures of local liquids, it was time to head for the first of that evening's two university dates.
   After a well-received 35-minute set at Uppsala, it was back on the road for a midnight show at Karen - and what a knockout show this turned out to be!
   The place was packed to capacity and despite feeling a little weary, Christie played a peak performance. I'm sure they are going to surprise a lot of people. They are very funky and heavy but they don't degenerate to unsubtle histrionics favoured by so many other bands.
   Apart from their own originals, they were wise enough to spice the program with Buffalo Springfield's Rock and Roll Woman, a tribute to Jimi Hendrix in Hey Joe, and a good workout in Tobacco Road.
   All three virtually collapsed in the showroom after their final number. They looked quite exhausted and pale.
   Paul's leather trousers were stuck to him with perspiration and for some time he just didn't have the time to change. Flat out on his back, he did manage to raise a smile and admit: "Man, it's just great coming off-stage absolutely out, knowing that you've played not only with every ounce of strength in your body, but to your capacity."
   Vic just moaned and said he felt ill, as Jeff, who was drying off, cheered everyone by saying: "We haven't started yet. We've got Copenhagen, Belgium and France before South America."
   "This tour is the best thing that could've happened to us, because by the time we get back to England, we're gonna be a tight and well-rehearsed band," said Paul. "I've only been in the band for about a month, but we're all working bloody hard and I think we'll surprise quite a few folk who may think of us just in terms of Yellow River."
   Later that evening we made it to The Three Coins for a bit of good old-fashioned raving. Paul sat in with a fine local jazz-rock band called Salt and Pepper, after which he was joined by Jeff and Vic for an informal spot.This packed the floor with wild, gyrating dollies until the early hours.
   All too soon it was time for me to head to the airport, and home, leaving Christie to catch a few well-deserved hours of shut-eye before the next hectic leg of the tour.
   As I checked in for my return, a flight stewardess inquired: "I hope you enjoyed your stay in Sweden?". Darling, that goes without saying."