JEFF CHRISTIE - Anthology 1967-1978 (2011)
Leeds-born Jeff Christie entered music by way of a skiffle band that eventually moved into rock & roll, emulating the Beatles' sound (after a fashion) under the guise of the Outer Limits. They eventually cut a pair of singles, one ("Just One More Chance") issued on Deram and the next ("Great Train Robbery") released on a small independent label. After their breakup, Christie decided to try his luck as a songwriter and cut a demo tape that passed through the hands of Tremeloes guitarist Alan Blakely and into those of his brother, drummer Mike Blakely, formerly of the Epics and the Acid Gallery. Mike Blakely was impressed enough with Christie's songs to arrange a recording session in London where the Tremeloes participated as Christie's backing band none of the sides from that session saw the light of day, but inspired by Blakely's faith in his songs, Jeff Christie decided to put together a group of his own. This ended up as a trio of Christie on bass and lead vocals, Blakely on drums, and his ex-Acid Gallery bandmate Vic Elmes on guitar and vocals. The group decided to use Jeff Christie's family name designated Christie; they were signed by British CBS. Their debut single, "Yellow River," featured Christie and Elmes' voices dubbed over the Tremeloes' backing track cut at Christie's first session. Whatever its origins, it did the job, riding the U.K. pop charts for 22 weeks and reaching the number one chart spot in several countries. Even in the United States, where it faced the stiffest competition, the Epic Records-released single reached number 23, a very respectable showing for an act that was nowhere near ready to tour the U.S. Their follow-up, a group recording this time called "San Bernadino," reached number one in Germany and number seven in England, though it never climbed beyond the lowest reaches of the Top 100 in America.
The group carried on for two years, going through several lineup changes leading into 1971, including the departure of Mike Blakely, who was replaced by Paul Fenton. Their second LP, For All Mankind, abandoned the commercial, pop-oriented sound of its predecessor in favor of a harder, higher-wattage, more blues-oriented sound, and the band's fortunes rapidly declined. They regrouped, with former Unit 4+2 guitarist/singer Howard "Lem" Lubin expanding Christie to a quartet. The professional clashes between Elmes and Christie signaled an end to the group's recording history in 1972. Jeff Christie cut songs for Mercury Records in the mid-'70s and kept using the group name as an alias on material recorded for the Epic and Wizard labels, and took back his full name for records on the RK label in the 1980s. There were disputes over the use of the group name in the 1980s, though Jeff Christie appeared to be using it most recently, while Vic Elmes has sometimes fronted a band called "Christie Again" in Europe.
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