The Magic Highway



Jeff studio sessionThe Gil Markle Sessions
(Longview Farm, Massachusetts, USA)

Paul Fenton's flamenco group, Carmen, recorded its last album at Longview Farm Studios, N Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1975. Jeff joined them there, and recorded some songs on his own, backed up by all the members of Carmen.
     Other performers included Jesse Henderson, Annie McClune, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra string section. The songs were engineered by Gil Markle, and produced by Jeff.

Movin' On
A boppy, poppish song for which the demo is available on Gil Markle's site. The finished version contains an extra verse. The song ends with Annie McClune on tail-out vocals, making this possibly the first of Jeff's recordings to use a female singer.

Some skillful guitar picking by Jeff introduces this lilting ballad. Once again Jeff shows his ear for a great, melodic top line.

Turning to Stone
Not a track that appeals instantaneously, this nevertheless is probably the best song that Jeff has written. It contains superb lyrics and a simply wonderful melody for the chorus, focusing on a man's hurting despite his apparent success. Jeff plays vibraphone, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and synthesiser. The song climaxes in a stunning, angelic choral arrangement, supplied by the members of Carmen.
     The song had been submitted to Dave Dee (of Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Tich fame) for release as a Jeff Christie solo single when Dave was at Atlantic in 1975, but Dave procrastinated and nothing eventuated.
     Sample lyrics:
"I think I'm safe and sound, both feet on the ground, I can open any door
"I don't make mistakes, and I get all the breaks, the sun and moon are mine, and more
"I'm turning to stone ... on the outside, everything's fine
"I'm turning to stone ... feeling so cold, deep in my soul, turning to stone."

Shine On
The song was written almost as a challenge. Drummer Jesse Henderson had laid down a drum track with no other instruments, and Gil asked Jeff to compose something around it. Jeff wrote some words, thought of a melody, and even got the string section from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to participate.

Ba Ba Boo Bah
A jokey tribute to Paul, who used to walk around singing drum patterns, and driving everyone nuts! Jeff and most of the members of Carmen sang on this song, whose lyrics consisted mainly of "Ba Ba Boo Bah".
John Glascock   The piece had originated from John Glascock (right) after being inspired by Paul, who could often be heard singing the drum arrangements while going about whatever other business he might have been engaged in on the farm. In fact, as Jeff recalls, this was an endearing habit of Paul's, who had and still does have a manic energy that turns him into a mouth drummer par excellence.
   "The piece was so Paul, aggresive and funny at the same time," Jeff said. "John bent my ear with the basic rhythm track, which I think consisted of bass and great drums, and John, Bob, and Angela tracked up on the theme of Ba Ba Boo Ba.
   "The song didn't get finished by Carmen because they were already in the process of breaking up. When I returned to the farm to put some finishing touches on my stuff, Gil Markle asked me if I could complete the track as a sentimental gesture. I can't claim to have written this song in full although I added quite a lot, and in that sense I became a part of the writing, arrangement and performance team.
    "But more importantly for me, as well as helping to finish the track, the song sort of became a little in-house tribute to Paul and the band that he believed in so much after leaving me; the sadness of watching a band in its death throes made it somehow very poignant and I suggested arranging parts of the song to include already written parts of other Carmen songs — so that they might act as a nostalgia memory trigger — and found slots for these in the track.
    "I was just pleased to help my friends and privileged to be included by some special musicians to be invited to join the party."

The Dewsbury Sessions
(Academy Studios, Dewsbury, UK)

Jeff recorded these songs between 1985 and 1990. He played all the instruments.

Shake Off These Chains
A rocker which really kicks in after the opening introductory verse, when Jeff utilises some great drumwork. I Gotta Be Free revisited!

Long Distance Love
A slow ballad about love via a telephone. It has a nice, melodic hook.

Back In The Jungle
Another song with a very 80's feel, using synthesizers and drum programming. Would have been a good single back in the decade of the new wave romantics.

The Danish sessions
(PUK Studios, Denmark)

Jeff was asked to produce an album for CMC Records in Denmark, called "Christie: Latest and Greatest". The premise was for Jeff to record some of his old songs and some new ones. Two Danish session players, a bass player and a drummer, worked with Jeff on the new tracks. Sadly, halfway through the recording process, the company was taken over by EMI, and the project was left hanging in mid-air.
     The songs remain uncompleted, and exist only in demo form. There is a clear progression in Jeff's works with these efforts though, with some outstanding lyrics produced by his pen.

Driving Down to Memphis
This song sees Jeff revisit his country-pop roots, as he attempts to recreate the Christie sound. It would've sounded fantastic as a finished product. As it is, it even sounds good in this raw form. Down the Mississippi Line revisited!

Better By Now
As mentioned, Jeff is not just a great composer of melodies, he also puts together some very clever and poignant words to his songs. This track contains incisive, intelligent wordplay.
     Sample lyrics:
"Got me thinking 'bout the two of us
"The way we live our lives
"When it's good, its good, but when it's bad
"We sharpen up our little knives
"But you know, and I know, and we know
"We should know better by now."

Building Bridges
Another great work just waiting to be converted into a final masterpiece. A ballad with a superb melody, more clever lyrics, and a no-nonsense message.
     Sample lyrics:
"Too many differences, too many promises
"Too many arguments that cause too many wars
"We are responsible for what we do and say
"Maybe a better future starts today ...
"If we start building bridges, we can cross that great divide
"To surrender our defenses, put away our wounded pride."

Lost Without a Trace
This love song utilises beautiful imagery in its words. Sheer poetry.
     Sample lyrics:
"Falling like a leaf, that spirals in the snow
"Tumbling thru the mist, down and down I go
"Spinning like a twisted wheel, hanging by a thread
"And I will be ..
"Lost without a trace, a smile without a face,
"If you ever leave, I will never be found."

One in a Million
A more uptempo song as Jeff sings about striving to be "one of a kind". A very raw demo. We can only guess at how the final version would have turned out.

Crash and Burn
Good advice from Jeff: don't be too hasty or you'll crash and burn. Another piece in a very basic, unrefined state, just begging for a Jeff Christie guitar hook.

Ordinary People
A slower track with meaningful, very clever, more mature lyrics about the journey through life. Nothing as simple as Here I Am or I've Got a Feeling here!
     Sample lyrics:
"Only ticketed passengers can board this moving train
"Thru the tunnel of pleasure to the pyramid of pain
"Colour-coded tapestries, kaleidoscope dreams,
"Rocky mountain vistas bathed in shadows and light
"There's a blue horizon in your mind
"There's a bridge we all must cross
"Every one of us
"If we want to reach the other side."

Danish Songwriting Workshop
(Copenhagen, Denmark)

Jeff had been selected with a few other writers from the British Association of Composers and Songwriters for a collaboration project with Danish writers and performers for a week’s workshop in Copenhagen in 1998. Jeff had to co-write six songs in six days, each with a different Danish composer. During that week, Jeff also produced a song on his own, recorded in a small studio on the waterfront with Danish producers Anders and Lars Juhl.

Whispering Trees
Welcome to Cafe Christabel, the source of the coolest, lounge sounds around! Visualise Jeff in a nightclub as he sings this bossa nova tune.

More solo sessions