Consortium

ConsortiumFrom: England

Originally known as West Coast Consortium, this British pop/rock band evolved through several incarnations in the mid-’60s, before finally achieving some chart success at the end of the decade. The band’s original name was Group 66, consisting of Robbie Fair (lead vocals), Geoff Simpson (lead guitar, vocals), Brian Bronson (rhythm guitar), John Barker (bass), and John Podbury (drums). Initially, the band played nothing but covers of current rock & roll hits. By doing so, they discovered that they could harmonize better than they could play, finding success with songs like “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons and “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys. By 1967, Simpson started writing songs and the band started actively seeking a record deal. They were signed to Pye Records who teamed them up with Tony Macaulay, who had just joined the company and had not made a name for himself yet in the business. Macaulay brought in writer/producer John MacLeod, and insisted that the group – which was now named Xit – change their name. Making a cultural connection to America was still an important quality at this time, so they came up with West Coast Consortium.

West Coast Consortium’s sound was originally very lightweight, rooted in high harmonies and midtempo songs. The band’s first two 45’s failed to chart, as did a single released under the moniker “Robbie,” focusing on the persona of Fair. Macaulay soon dropped the band, turning his attention to the Foundations, and was replaced by Jack Dorsey. The group recorded one pop/freakbeat single, “Colour Sergeant Lilywhite,” which did not chart but would become a minor classic of British psychedelia. Even though they failed to garner any sort of success, West Coast Consortium was given the chance to record an LP. They rehearsed for awhile, but eventually abandoned the project.

The head of Pye Records, legendary producer/bandleader Cyril Stapleton, became a huge fan of West Coast Consortium, giving them every chance to succeed. Stapleton was a cross between Norrie Paramour and George Martin. He attended a performance by the band and was so impressed that he decided to give them his personal attention. At the time, the group was working on a version of Simpson’s “All The Love In The World,” but it wasn’t sounding right with Dorsey. To everyone’s surprise, Stapleton violated all corporate protocol by agreeing that Dorsey wasn’t right for the job. Dorsey was taken off producing the band, and the version recorded under him was tossed. Stapleton took over as producer and the band changed their name to the much shorter Consortium. The record became the group’s strongest to date, and the B-side, “Spending My Life Saying Goodbye,” was equally strong. “All The Love In The World” became the band’s first hit, reaching #22 on the UK charts.

 After a couple more singles on the Pye label, Consortium shifted to a custom label called Trend, set up by Macaulay and Macleod. The new label did nothing to help Consortium’s sales, and by 1970 the original group’s history came to an end. Simpson quit the band, as he was unwilling to leave his wife and their recently born twins for a six-week tour of Italy. He went into the field of songwriting, enjoying success in the 1970s, while the rest of the band continued, in one form or another, for the rest of the decade. By this time, Consortium had a much louder sound, very far removed from their Four Seasons/Beach Boys-inspired roots.

Artist info: An article by Bruce Eder at Allmusic.com

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 2003 compilation Looking Back: The Pye Anthology
Looking Back - The Pye Anthology

  • The Day The Train Never Came