no turn unstoned

(CD, Angel Air Records)

No Turn Unstoned

THIS much-anticipated set was released in 2012 and contains 40 of Jeff's unreleased songs from the 70s. All of the songs have been previously reviewed on this site in the Solo Sessions pages. While most of them feature Jeff alone in the studio, there are several which were recorded by the band as demos and possible single or album releases.
    The double-CD package has, like its predecessors, received much airplay and favourable reviews (see below).


Disc 1:

1. Sweet Jemima
2. Rain Or Shine
3. Mr Big Shot
4. Witness For The Prosecution
5. Better Days
6. Little Miss America
7. Schoolgirl
8. Politician Man
9. Fairytale

10. Fantasy World
11. Hollywood
12. Long Grass
13. When I Was Young
14. Solitude
15. Living Is Giving
16. Troubled Times
17. One Way Ticket
18. Steamroller
19. Abilene
20. Melancholy Man


Disc 2:

1. Cannery Row
2. Breakaway
3. Mailman
4. From Hero To Zero
5. It Can't Happen To Me
6. Part Of My Life
7. Heaven Knows
8. Loser
9. All The Kings Horses

10. Fool
11. I Said She Said
12. Jody
13. Set Yourself Free
14. Wild Grows The Heather
15. Programmed To Receive
16. Movin On
17. Tonight
18. Anastasia
19. Life On Earth
20. American Boys



IF there was any justice in the music world, singer-songwriter Jeff Christie would be a huge name. Best known for heading up the 1970s pop band Christie, Jeff and his bandmates in Christie are remembered in a 2012 double CD set from Angel Air Records, entitled No Turn Unstoned. Compiled by Jeff and put together in his studio, the 40-track set compiles a number of Christie tracks and serves as a fine introduction to the band as well as being a great collectible for long-time Christie fans. No Turn Unstoned is a fine companion release to the 2008 Christie double CD set, also released by Angel Air, entitled Floored Masters.

HAVING a hit single is a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, you get lucky enough to have a song that's really, really popular and sticks in people's minds and -if you're lucky - you even make some money. But on the negative side, if you don't follow it up with plenty of other hit singles, you end up being known for one single song and little else. In the early 1970s Great Britain's Jeff Christie was one of the lucky ones.
    Yellow River by his band Christie was one of the biggest hits of its time ... making its way to the number one slot in 26 countries. Jeff and his band were able to ride the wave of popularity for a few more years even though they never had much success with any of their follow-up singles. In 1975 the band split up, and that was the end of Christie.
    But eventually Jeff decided to pick up the ball and continue running, which brings us to the present day. Jeff is now playing and recording with a new version of the band. Not long ago he began ploughing through tons of demos and rough recordings and decided there was enough valid material to release this double CD set.
    In many cases issues of unreleased material like this can be a disappointing affair. But this is not one of those cases. Yes, some songs are better than others ... but there are so many fantastic little gems here that they make this set more than worth your while.
    If you appreciated the two Pete Ham CDs that were issued after his death, there's a good chance you'll go ape over these songs. You do have to use your imagination a bit on some tunes to realise what they could have been ... but that's no big deal at all.
    The first disc in particular offers some really great songs that have stood the test of time. The songs on the humorously-titled No Turn Unstoned were recorded during a particularly prolific period in Jeff's life and they seem to capture truly credible inspiration. Songs that really stick in our minds here are Rain or Shine, Little Miss America, Better Days, Fairytale, Steamroller, and Breakaway.
Hopefully this release will make folks aware of how much Jeff has to offer than one hit tune. Top pick.

No TurnSCRAPING the bottom of a pot at the rainbow's end uncovers a treasure trove of unreleased nuggets. The Yellow River fans should apply with no reservations. Jeff Christie's aficionados must have spent some time on his site poring over the Solo Sessions section. After all, his classic band's output is rather limited while consistent, so there surely was more in the veteran's cache.
     Christie allowed a generous peek into it on the Floored Masters - Past Imperfect set but now undertook an almost thorough work to turn up no less than 40 songs. "Almost" means the archives haven't been emptied, which is good because these two discs have a lasting value bordering on overload.
    The pieces' quality differs sonic and tune-wise, some being demos, of which 1973's rhythm-and-bluesy Witness For The Prosecution is the crunchiest, acoustic Programmed To Receive from 1981 the most intense, and Politician Man the most serious in its country rock jive, and some getting too close to the inspiration source: slide guitar-driven Steamroller to Elvis' rockabilly boogie, a romance I Said She Said to Besame Mucho. Yet Mailman brilliantly updates Please Mr. Postman and The Rolling Stones-quoting Cannery Row from later in the '70s goes beyond the pastiche with its row of catchy tunes canned into one song. It's equally impossible not to go with the extremely raw, if compelling, harmonica-hued Solitude, the infectious glam of Abilene, or easy, piano-supported flow of Fantasy World.
    Elsewhere, Wild Grows The Heather swells up in the mood to orchestral proportions, and the highly charged It Can't Happen To Me has a nice rhythmic undertow to its Wild West imagery but gets carried away with a My Sweet Lord brush. Still, the best are the tracks where Christie's Spanish guitar sweeps over electric drive like it does in the arresting buleria-shaped Melancholy Man, which houses a nice riff to boot, or even takes over as in the wistful, trumpet-wielding flamenco Heaven Knows and breezy ballad All The King's Horses.
    Completely different is taut Life On Earth, showing how well Jeff Christie could have fitted the '80s if he only wanted to chase the charts again. Apparently, he didn't: a cruel act in his fans' eyes that, with No Stone Unturned, will go all dewy.
let it rock website (dimitry epstein)

AT the beginning 70s Christie had a world-hit with Yellow River in 26 countries.
    Bandleader Jeff Christie is still active and now he has looked in his archives and found enough pop material for a double CD. The sound quality varies just as the quality of the songs, but there are also a lot of pearls- and also the stylistic spectrum impresses.
     From the acoustic Programmed To Receive (1981) to the Elvis-like rockabilly Steamroller or the country-rocker Politician Man up to the heart-melt ballad I Said She Said or Abilene with glam-character — many genres are included. In Cannery Row, Christie finds inspiration by the Stones, and in addition he is also be an impressive Spanish-guitar player.
    Snap at the chance, this CD set is recommended.
Good Times Magazine

YELLOW River was a monster hit for Jeff Christie. This compilation shows us a different Jeff Christie, who's displaying a broad variety of fine tunes. From pop to rock, it's all there.
    As a band Christie scored on the continent and Jeff's songs caught the atention of artists such as Quicksilver, Leapy Lee and even the US super band REM.
    Some other songs, including San Bernadino and Iron Horse, had a big hit potential and their debut album spent no less than 10 weeks in the US charts. At the time Christie was the British answer to the American Creedence Clearwater Revival.
    On this double CD we get a good 40 songs that Jeff himself wrote in the early seventies and which he now found the much needed time to put on a CD release.
    The first CD has some nice moments including Hollywood, Living Is Giving, Solitude, and especially One Way Ticket, that evokes memories of other sixties and seventies bands. Two highlights are Abilene and the closing track Melancholy Man, which firmly rocks as it should. A totally different Christie from the previous numbers.
CD2 starts with the handsome Cannery Row which waw waw pedals away under the dust. With Wild Grows The Heather and Movin 'On, with strong drum part, we see the highlights of this second tranche call.
    In summary, No Turn Unstoned is a nice collection of nice pop tunes but they are not really close to their big brother Yellow River.
    Christie are still touring around the world and successfully. Especially in the US and in Europe, they can always count on a full house.
Keys and Chords website

SO this is Christie, whose bandleader Jeff Christie scored the prestigious Ivor Novello award, amongst others, for his 70's chart-topper Yellow River. Other hits from Christie's repertoire include San Bernadino and Iron Horse.
    None of these goldies make an appearance on this two-disc compilation, but nonetheless, there's a good few gems to be discovered here.
    Songwriter and musician Christie was born in 1946 into a musical family, where artists like Bing Crosby got played a lot. As a boy, Christie was equally mesmerised by the musicians who played on the bandstand in the local park. During his rebellious adolescence, he refused to conform in any way and - disenchanted with the classical fare he learned at school - started to compose his own little pieces on the piano. Christie's musical odyssey really began when, after abandoning an initial desire to learn flamenco guitar, he discovered rock 'n' roll!
    After various outfits he eventually formed Christie, the band baptised after his own name. Although they became known as England's answer to Creedence Clearwater Revival, most songs on No Turn Unstoned (brilliant title!) tend to steer more towards pop rock, as opposed to US West Coast rock.
    Each disc boasts 20 tracks, so for Christie novices there's plenty to get acquainted with! CD1 in particular has interesting stuff to offer, one being Rain Or Shine - one of those catchy tunes that penetrate your brain like it or loathe it. Little Miss America displays a decidedly rockier note, with a distinctive 'tail end of the 60's' feel.
    Politician Man, in contrast, is incredibly timeless, albeit not due to its musical arrangement. The timelessness here lies in the spot-on lyrics, namely about all the bullshit that politicians bestow upon us: "There's a movement to the right, there's a movement to the left, and the one in the middle has no legislation. Vote for ME…!" The integration of skiffle adds to this 'song for the people' output.
We're getting almost the opposite on Hollywood; a homage to the Golden Screen era and some of its stars such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
    One of the nicest songs on Disc 1 is Long Grass, a country-tinged composition with some harmonica in the chorus. It's a musical recollection of past road trips and travels, but it's also a love song ("Oh don't leave me with just a memory").
    The mellow Living Is Giving and also Troubled Times are well known melodies and I'm certain I've heard them on and off on Radio Gold FM, and with One Way Ticket we get a great yet unexpected slice of honky tonk, plus some dynamic piano accompaniment.
    Curious but ultimately captivating is Steamroller, a hotchpotch with nods to Creedence and early Doors. A little psychedelic string work, a little Hawaiian guitar… take my word for it: it's pacy and it sparks!
    Closing track Abilene does indeed resemble 70's West Coast rock, with some groovy chords and exuding that 'screw conformity and let's rock out' vibe.
    On CD2, it's opener Cannery Row that swoons thanks to Jeff's harmonica. A catchy rhythm and matching chorus continue on the nicely flowing pop-rock number It Can't Happen To Me.
    I'm sure that Part Of My Life was penned with the best of intentions, but even the best of intentions can't save this from dripping with schmaltz, especially the refrain "… and when I lost you I was empty, God knows how I cried". It's not an upper by any stretch of the imagination.
    Mind you, it gets worse with Loser. While totally alright musically speaking, it's the cringeworthy lyrics that I have a problem with: "Loser, when are you gonna start winning / when are you gonna start grinning / you will always be a loser / you could never be a chooser / but you will always be my friend". Words fail me, though obviously they didn't fail Jeff Christie …
    Thankfully, things are on the up again with folky-pop-rock arrangement All The Kings Horses (a favourite title for many a ditty, or so it would seem), and get better still with Set Yourself Free and I Said She Said - the latter strongly in the vein of Scott Walker.
    Programmed To Receive starts out in a sedate Neil Young-guitar style, only to progress into choppier chords soon after. A pop ballad in the traditional sense is Anastasia - a very safe affair to be honest, but it makes for some relaxed easy listening if that's the mood you're in.
    Finally, American Boys brags with "Gonna take you, gonna shake you" though there ain't exactly a lot of shaking going on. With its slight Supertramp feel, the track scores plus points thanks to the participation of T.Rex drummer Paul Fenton, who played with Christie before he relocated to Bolan's camp.
    Apart from two tracks on Disc 2, all songs were unfinished demos and outtakes initially not intended for public consumption. But now they are, so hey - go on and enjoy!