The Magic Highway


One of the very first articles printed about Christie, reprinted from New Musical Express, May 1970.


By Roy Carr

ScaffoldCHRISTIE, currently at No 4 on the charts with one of the fastest selling singles in months, Yellow River, have yet to play their first live gig together.
   So off I went to ask the question why to Jeff Christie, Mike Blakley and Vic Elmes at their manager's office in Holborn last week.
   On my arrival, I found Jeff, Mike and Vic making plans to spend two whole weeks at a very quiet hotel in Exeter.
   "What, holidays already?" I blurted out, thinking of the foolhardiness of going away just when their first record is rapidly moving towards the top slot.
   I was immediately informed that the sole purpose of the trek was to enable the group to plan and rehearse a good strong stage act.
   As Jeff was keen to point out, "Our main concern is to consolidate our first hit. We've all been around in different groups far too long to make just one hit and then slip away into oblivion.
   "So now we intend to spend the next couple of weeks making quite sure that the people who come to see us won't be disappointed."
   So what could the Great public expect to hear from Christie? Heaviest of underground sounds? Purest of teenybop? A completely new revelation?
   Jeff, with undoubtable natural good looks that could easily adorn thousands of bedroom walls, clarified:
   "Christie are a rock'n'roll band. We are going to play basic, exciting rock. There will be quite a few songs that I have written, some really good old standards like Slow Down, a few of those great Carl Perkins ravers, and Yellow River.
   "As a band, we would like to try and recapture the old feeling and bring back some of the excitement of the early days of rock."
   Up until the formation of Christie, the individual lifelines of the group had followed the all-too-familiar pattern of hang-ups, frustration and insufficient money. A scene which I'm sure thousands of groups have experienced time and again.
   "We even had to take a day off work to record Yellow River," Mike confessed, before the rather subdued Vic revealed, "In fact we only gave up our day jobs last week."
   I knew for a fact that the Tremeloes had been seriously considering recording Yellow River as a single. So what happened?
   "I wrote Yellow River 18 months ago and sent it down to their office with some other material where it just laid around for ages," Jeff said.
   "The Trems liked it and were going to record it. Then they had a monster hit with one of their own songs, and after that they dropped it in favour of their own material.
   "Our publicist Brian Longley was certain Yellow River would be a hit for someone. He eventually persuaded me to travel down from Leeds, and after an all-night discussion we decided to get hold of Mike and Vic to form the group and record the song."
   Mike, the brother of the Trems' Alan Blakley, interjected: "Though the Trems didn't record the song, they have been most eager to help. They have been so pleased with our success that they now include Yellow River in their act and plug it for us every night."
   As yet Christie have no history as a group, apart from their hit record, but individually the boys have many hilarious yarns concerning their exploits with other groups.
   "Vic and I used to be with a group called the Epics, and most of our work used to be in Scandinavia," Mike said.
   "When we were in Copenhagen, we appeared at the Carousel Club. A great part of our act used to include complete and unexpurgated versions of such classics as On The Good Ship Venus, together with our own ribald interpretations of Yesterday. Most of the people in the club didn't have the faintest idea what it was all about!"
   Vic took up the story: "Sometimes, an English businessman and his wife would wander into the club, and it would really crease all of us up to see the look of horror and shock on their faces as we sang all those songs loud and clear. "I don't think we will be including any of those in Christie's programme," he joked. "And Jeff has also written well over 150 songs from which we can choose."
   Jeff said: "They're not all in the same class as Yellow River, however, I believe there is some interesting material among that lot.
   "There's even a song that I'm positive could be a big smash for Roy Orbison."