The Magic Highway


Loosely-translated excerpts from an article in the Italian magazine Sorrisi e Canzoni TV, November 1970.



Yellow River has been one of the greatest hits in Italy. Behind the song is 24-year-old Jeff Christie, who plays bass and keyboards for the group named after him, along with Mike Blakley on drums and Vic Elmes on guitar. He wrote the song before the group even existed.
     “I had written this song with the Tremeloes in mind,” Jeff said, “and I sent it to them.” But the Tremeloes decided to release their own song, Call Me Number One, and Jeff’s hopes of them recording his song “went to smoke”.
     But fortune shone on Jeff in the form of a man named Brian Longley, now the manager of the band. He believed in the potential of Yellow River, and persuaded Jeff to form the trio with Mike and Vic and record the song themselves. The record was a huge success and thus was born Christie.
     The group definitely occupies a special place in the world of pop-rock music; their songs are composed with melody at the forefront. In this regard, they are closer to a band like the Bee Gees than Jethro Tull. Their second single San Bernadino, released soon, is perhaps even more catchy than Yellow River.
     ‘Yellow River was very good for us,” Jeff said. “We hope San Bernadino does just as well. Sometimes the second single can “bomb” and we don’t want this to happen.”
     “I would say we are a rock and roll band,” Jeff said. “Too many artists play a snobbish brand of music; we want to recall the good music styles of a few years ago, of the great rock era.” Jeff said he had already written about 150 songs before the band was formed.
     Interestingly, Mike and Vic were used to playing more boisterous and lewd songs when they were in the band called The Epics, gigging in Copenhagen. But now they favour the tunes of the Beatles, Canned Heat and Creedence as they aim to emulate the success of Yellow River.
     The boys don’t yet own their own cars and are limited to dreaming of them (Michael a Miura, Vic a sporty Mercedes). Vic aims to have a success on every record he releases with the band, while Mike said he simply wants happiness. For his part, Jeff hopes to have enough financial security to buy his parents a big house with a pool.
     How can Leeds, a city based on steel, be the inspiration for Yellow River? “I just got up one morning and felt I had to write a song,” Jeff said. “The title of the song was the first to come to mind, then the rest of the lyrics and melody followed.”