sun 21/07/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: West Coast Consortium - All The Love In The World | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: West Coast Consortium - All The Love In The World

Music Reissues Weekly: West Coast Consortium - All The Love In The World

Top-drawer British harmony pop band whose promise was unfulfilled

West Coast Consortium. From left: John Barker, Brian Bronson, prodigious songwriter Geoff Simpson, Robbie Fair, John Podbury

West Coast Consortium’s first single was July 1967’s “Some Other Someday,” a delightful slice of Mellotron-infused harmony pop which wasn’t too far from The Ivy League’s “Funny How Love Can be” and The Rockin’ Berries’ “He’s in Town” – each of which were hits in, respectively, 1965 and 1964. All three bands were on the Pye label and its associated imprint Piccadilly.

“Some Other Someday” wasn’t a hit, but it did pick up play on the pirate station Radio Luxembourg. On the single’s flip, the similarly luscious “Look Back.” The topside was co-written by Tony Macaulay, who had signed the band to Pye. Its B-side was penned by band member Geoff Simpson. Clearly, whatever the hit-pick side, the band had a fine in-house songwriter.

West Coast Consortium  All The Love In The World, Complete Recordings 1964-1972_When West Coast Consortium did score their sole hit, with January 1969’s fourth single “All the Love in the World,” it was with a song written by Simpson. This aural wonder was created to Consortium. After the chart action – five flop singles, the last of which was issued in March 1971. No album was released.

The singles form the bulk of Disc One of the three-CD digi-pack set All The Love In The World: Complete Recordings 1964-1972. Obviously, there is a lot more to this band than the singles – even taking account of the Portugal-only 45 from 1972 included on Disc One. This release sports 76 tracks, only 19 of which were released.

On signing with Pye, the band which became West Coast Consortium were known as the less-than catchy X-IT. From North London, they had formed as Group 66 in 1964. Songwriter Geoff Simpson had previously been in band named The Sonnets. As Group 66, they covered The Four Seasons’ “Rag Doll” and The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around.” Their leanings were towards US-styled harmony pop. X-IT were renamed by Macaulay.

Despite the charming psychedelia of their March 1968 A-side “Colour Sergeant Lillywhite,” little else they released strayed from the vocal-focussed approach they’d adopted. Beyond “Some Other Someday” and “All The Love In The World,” their single tracks “Listen to the Man” (very Ivy League-ish, this one) and the stunning “When the Day Breaks” are amongst the UK’s finest harmony pop releases. All their best songs were written by Simpson.

As to reason for the mass of originally unreleased material collected on All The Love In The World the band – through their manager, music biz mover Cliff Cooper – had access to instruments usually only available in a recording studio (including a Mellotron), as well as space to rehearse and record. This meant they knuckled down in their own time to tape versions of the songs which the prolific Geoff Simpson was writing. This resulted in two full albums which were completed in 1968 – one early in the year, the second later in 1968. There was also a double album, made in the second half of 1969. Each was pressed as an acetate. It is this material, heard in full, which fills Discs Two and Three of All The Love In The World. Pye Records had no interest in West Coast Consortium’s do-it-yourself activities.

West Coast Consortium_french 45The two 1968 albums are fully formed, very strong, have studio quality sound and if they had, say, emerged as limited pressings on a private label would be as lauded as legendary British cult band Forever Amber – though there is a poppiness here, a little like of The Tremeloes at their best or cult psych-popsters Rainbow Ffolly. Though the 1969 double album sounds more like a demo then the 1968 material – some of the songs aren’t fully polished and instrumentally fleshed out – what’s heard is, again, a wonder. Also a wonder is that every one of these 52 tracks is written by Geoff Simpson.

Whatever they were up to under their own steam, Pye lost interest in the band by the end of 1969 and the two final singles they issued in the UK emerged on Trend label, run by the manager of their former labelmates The Foundations. After this, line-up changes and Simpson’s departure. Without him, the band plugged on with a heavier music before fizzling soon after 1975.

West Coast Consortium have been the subject of previous anthologies, but these three CDs tell the story as never before. The band sounds like a winner but, as the booklet’s essay makes clear, was not well served by its record label. Their prodigious songwriter Geoff Simpson did not develop into the powerhouse early Seventies pop songwriter he could have become. Around five singles appeared with his writing credit, but none were hits. The last records with his songs were issued in 1977 and 1978: a couple of singles by British motorcycle star Eddie Kidd. Unfulfilled promise sums it up. A pity, as All The Love In The World: Complete Recordings 1964-1972 is stuffed with top-drawer pop. Happily, though, all of it can now be heard.

@MrKieronTyler

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