British rock band Consortium (then known as West Coast Consortium) managed to reach the UK singles chart back in 1969 with their flower pop number "All The Love In The World". After recording a handful of singles that continued in the psychedelic / pop vein, band leader and vocalist Robbie Leggat continued to front the group through numerous different lineup changes into the 70's, until they eventually called it quits in 1975. In 2005 Angel Air Records issued a previously unreleased album from 1975 entitled Rebirth, and the ensuing success of that disc was enough to get them back together and into the studio to record a brand new studio offering, albeit with a bit of a twist, called 13th Hour.
What you get here are nine tracks in total that celebrate Consortium's mid 70's classic rock sound, so there is definitely a pleasant retro feel permeating throughout the album. This is due large in part to the unearthing of two un-released songs ("Where" & "13th Hour") from the later period of their career. Both of these tracks are significant in that they contain the original performances of late drummer John Parker who passed away in 2001. The band was able to isolate the drums from the master 1 inch 16 track tape and then re-record their instruments and vocals overtop Parker's last recordings with the band. Both of these compositions should be regarded as the high points of what is a very solid record from start to finish.
Clocking in just over seven minutes the opening cut "Where" is a fairly straight ahead rock track propelled by Parkers muscular, steady backbeat, the warm tones of John Caley's organ and the soaring twin guitar leads from Brian Parker and Mick Ware. The title track is up next in what is the first of two versions on the record. The song is offered as both a three and a half minute single edit, together with the extended ten minute version which closes out the disc. While the single edit is nice, it certainly pairs in comparison to the full version, as it omits a plethora of some more absolutely sizzling guitar work from Parker and Ware as they trade off solos for the better part of four minutes.
Interesting that the band decided to have another go at their biggest hit "All The Love In The World", complete with original member and the composer of the song, keyboardist Geoff Simpson. While I can't say I was a big fan of the original which I thought was a bit on the syrupy side, the fact that they put a slightly more edgier spin on this reinterpretation, while still retaining the smooth vocal qualities and melodies of Robbie's voice from the original, I think was a good decision on their part. They managed to bring the song up to date in a subtle way without having to drastically alter it for a new generation.
If Consortium is adept at taking leftovers and turning them to their advantage then they should also be commended for doing a great job with the five new songs presented on 13th Hour . "Nightmare", "Inside, Outside" and "Lady Doctor" sit perfectly alongside their back catalogue of work, but more importantly it demonstrates that this band can still be viewed as a vital, creative force that isn't content to just rely on past laurels.
If you like classic rock that has elements of prog, folk and west coast American pop, you should definitely check out what Consortium has to offer. A great place to start would be right here with this excellent new album. One can only hope that the creative spirit within the band continues and that it translates into more great new music like this.
2) 13th Hour (edited)
3) All The Love In The World
4) Inside, Outside
5) Lady Doctor
6) Sad Girl
9) 13th Hour (Full Version)