The 5th Dimension


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (-75)

- Florence Larue -- vocals

- Marilyn McCoo -- vocals 

- Lamont McLemore -- vocals

- Billy Davis Jr. -- vocals 

- Ron Townson (RIP 2001) -- vocals

 

- Phyllis Battle -- vocals (1985-2002)

- Van Jewel -- vocals (2002)

- Florence Larue -- vocals

- Marilyn McCoo -- vocals (-75, 1990)

- Lamont McLemore -- vocals

- Billy Davis Jr. -- vocals (-75, 1990)

- Ron Townson (RIP 2001) -- vocals

- Greg Walker (1990-) -- vocals

- Willie Williams -- vocals (replaced Townson) (1998)

 

 

 

 

- Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo
- The Hi-Fi's
- The Intervals
- Marilyn McCoo (solo efforts) 

- Ron Townson (solo efforts)

 

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Magic Garden

Company: Soul

Catalog: SCS-92001

Year: 1967

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Country: Los Angeles, California

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4123

Price: $10.00

 

On the heels of their worldwide successes with "Up, Up and Away", The 5th Dimension's second album, 1967's "The Magic Garden" found them continuing their collaboration with producer/songwriter Jimmy Webb.  With Webb responsible for eleven of the twelve tracks (the lone exception being a lousy cover of The Beatles' 'Ticket to Ride'), their sophomore LP was definitely different.  While the group's unique MOR sunshine pop remained intact, this time around the emphasis wasn't on top-40 acceptance, rather apparently on making a big statement.  Apparently written as a concept piece, the song cycle seemingly traced Webb's love affair with high school girlfriend Susan Horton.  The plotline was basically nitial meeting, falling in love, lrelationship ups and downs, and the end of the relationship ...  Not sure how much of it was based on fact.  I read an interview with Horton where she seemed to indicate the relationship was fairly one sided, but who knows.  Full of lush orchestration and dreamy, if occasionally pompous and clunky lyrics (love tends to do that to you), the result was surprisingly impressive.  While tracks such as 'Summer's Daughter', 'Dreams' and 'The Worst That Could Happen' (the latter subsequently a hit for The Brooklyn Bridge) were too MOR for the group's own good, their harmonies remain unmatched and when they toughen up the sound on tracks such as the mildly psychedelic 'Orange Air' they were every bit as good as anyone in the business.  

 

"The Magic Garden" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Prologue   (Jimmy Webb) - 1:24

As mentioned, you'd be hard pressed to find an album with such a strong '60s vibe ...  there was just something special in their blended voices.   rating: *** stars

2.) The Magic Garden   (Jimmy Webb) - 2:48

Showcasing the men, the title track found the group in full pop glory. Talk about dripping summer-of-love ...   rating: **** stars

3.) Summer's Daughter   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:03

With Townson handling the lead vocals, complete with harpsichord backing, 'Summer's Daughter' found the album taking a detour into Burt Bacharach top-40 direction.  But those harmonies ....  my, my, my.    rating: **** stars

4.) Dreams / Pax / Nepenthe   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:24

While the harmonies remained entrancing, the raga orchestration briefly steered 'Dreams / Pax  /Nepenthe' off the tracks.   'Course this was 1967 so everyone seemingly had to embrace Eastern culture.   rating: *** stars

5.) Carpet Man   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:16

Opening up with a melody that sounded like it had been ripped off a Glenn Campbell LP, 'Carpet Man' was one of the most commercial tunes they ever recorded.  With an electric sitar solo, how could you not love it.   YouTube has a poor quality, black and white clip of the group clip-synching the song on The John Davidson TV show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5QZZE9GYmg    The track was also tapped as the leadoff single:

- 1967's 'Carpet Man' b/w 'The Magic Garden' (Soul City catalog number SC-762)  rating: **** stars

6.) Ticket To Ride   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 4:00

The album's lone cover tune, their slowed down, MOR supper club-ish version of 'Ticket To Ride' didn't seem to fit into the album.  Apparently a leftover from the debut album, the record label seemingly included it to ensure there was a commercial song on the set.   rating: ** stars 

 

(side 2)

1.) Requiem: 820 Latham   (Jimmy Webb) - 4:26

Most folks don't believe it, but the fact of the matter is these guys (and gals) could sound quite soulful when given the right material (and when Billy Davis Jr handled the lead vocals).  Yeah, this one was over-the-top in terms of lovelorn hopelessness, but it had an attractive, dark and disturbing melody that made it great.  rating: **** stars

2.) The Girls' Song   (Jimmy Webb) -  4:09

Marilyn McCoo had such an amazing voice ...  she's one of those people who could probably sing a telephone book and make it sound good.   Yeah, the song wasn't anything great, but with her handling lead vocals, who cared.   rating: **** stars

3.) The Worst That Could Happen   (Jimmy Webb) - 2:37

Written when Webb learned Horton had gone off and gotten a "quickie" marriage, 'The Worst That Could Happen' was one of Webb's most saccharine tunes, but also provided him with a massive hit - not with this version, but courtesy of The Brooklyn Bridge.   This version's pretty lame.  rating: ** stars

4.) Orange Air   (Jimmy Webb) - 2:38

Webb's version of psychedelia ...  cute and a nice display of their wonderful harmony vocals.   rating: *** stars

5.) Paper Cup   (Jimmy Webb) - 2:48

Not the most commercial tune on the album, but the song had a bouncy melody and fun, sing-along vibe which probably explains whey the song was release as the sophomore single.  I've always wondered about the inspiration.  My take was the song was based on the end of Webb's relationship with Horton - maybe he found solace in the bottle ...

- 1967's 'Paper Cup' b/w 'Poor Side of Town' (Soul City catalog number SC-760)  YouTube has a clip of the group lip-synching the tune for some forgotten TV program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WL_8T5WHkU   rating: *** stars

6.) Epilogue   (Jimmy Webb) - 0:56

And the album closed out with a brief retrain of the opening melody.  rating; ** stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Reflections

Company: Bell

Catalog: 6065

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Country: California, USA

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4123

Price: $3.00

 

To my ears, though they didn't write their own material, in the battle of late-1960s/early-1970s MOR pop, these guys were every bit as good as their competitors. In terms of competitors, The Mamas and the Papas quickly come to mind - for a comparison, check out their cover of The Beatles "Ticket To Ride". Their performance and mannerisms bear an uncanny resemblance to the former). Continuing their longstanding collaboration with producer Bones Howe, 1971's "Reflections" isn't what you'd call a major change in direction. Taking on a standard mix of popular hits and lesser known selections, all eleven tracks are subjected to Howes' extensive orchestration and the group's patented easy-going, Southern California group harmonies. The results are certainly mixed, ranging from engaging ("California Soul"), to hysterical inept (check out their Up with People-styled smiley cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love") and nausia-inducing (the weirdest MOR cover of Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side of Town" I've ever heard). A minor seller, the set peaked at # 112. (Geez, I'd forgotten how attractive LaRue and McCoo were - talk about a pair of hotties !!! Makes you wish hot pants would come back into vogue.)

"Reflections" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) California Soul   (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:16
2.) Let It Be Me   (Mann Curtis - Hilbert Becaud) - 3:53
3.) Sunshine of Your Love   (Jack Bruce - Peter Brown - Eric Clapton) - 3:17
4.) Poor Side of Town   (Johnny Rivers - Lou Adler) - 3:30
5.) Ticket To Ride  (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 4:00

(side 2)

1.) Blowin' Away   (Laura Nyro) - 2:35
2.) Workin' On a Groovy Thing   (Neil Sedaka - Roger Atkins) - 3:09
3.) Carpet Man   (Jim Webb) - 3:05
4.) Those Were the Days   (Gene Raskin) - 3:04
5.) I'll Never Be the Same Again   (Jeffrey Comanor) - 3:05
6.) California My Way   (Willie Hitchinson) - 2:50

 

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