No Turn Unstoned
added: 10 Jan 2013
// release date: 20 Oct 2012 // label: Angel Air Records
reviewer: Claudia A
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 Bernardino’ and ‘Iron Horse’.
None of these goldies make an appearance on this 2-disc compilation, nonetheless, there’s a good few gems to be discovered here.
Songwriter and musician Jeff 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 Disc1 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 lets rock out’ vibe.
, it’s opener ‘Cannery Row’ that swoons thanks to Jeff Christie’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 cringe worthy 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 Disc2, all songs were unfinished demos and outtakes initially not intended for public consumption. But now they are, so hey - go on and enjoy!
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