Fifth Estate, The

Band members               Related acts

- Rick Engler -- guitar, violin, bass (1964-68)
- Ken Evans -- drums, percussion (1964-68)
- Doug Ferrara -- bass (1964-68)
- Bill Shute -- guitar, mandolin (1964-68)
- Wads Wadhams -- vocals, keyboards (1964-68) 



- The D-Men





Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead

Company: Jubilee

Catalog: JGS 8005

Year: 1967

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/+VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4

Price: $35.00

Cost: $66.00


While attending Stamford University, in mid-1964 students Rick Engler (guitar), Ken Evans (drums), Doug Ferrara (bass), Bill Shute (guitar) and Wads (Wayne) Wadhams (singer/keyboardist) met at a series of college cellar parties. Inspired by English Invasion bands such as The Beatles and Manfred Mann, they began playing college dances and local clubs. Performing as The Demen (shortened to The D-Men) (see separate entry), those dates eventually led to a recording contract with Kapp, followed by a stint under United Artist's Veep subsidiary.

By 1967, having mutated into The Fifth Estate, the group recorded a one shot single for Red Bird. While 'Love Is All a Game' b/w 'Like I Love You' (Red Bird catalog number RB 10-064) did little in terms of sales, the resulting attention was enough to attract the interest of Jubilee Records. Released as a single their quirky cover of The Wizard of Oz's 'Ding! Dong! the Witch Is Dead' b/w 'Rub-a-Dub' (Jubilee catalog number 45-5573) provided the band with a fluke top-20 hit.  


As was standard marketing practice, Jubilee rushed the group back into the studio to record a supporting album. Co-produced by Steve and Bill Jerome, the cleverly titled "Ding! Dong! the Witch Is Dead" proved surprisingly accomplished. Largely written by Wadhams and non-member Don Askew, musically the set offered up an entertaining mix of styles. Clearly aimed at a top-40 audience, the collection found the band taking more than capable stabs at Lovin Spoonful styled folk-rock ('It's Waiting There for You' and 'No. 1 Hippie On the Village Scene'), early country rock (a nifty cover of Neil Diamond's 'I'm a Believer' - anyone know if their cover pre-dates The Monkees version?) and an okay slice of blue-eyed soul ('Midnight Hour'). Interestingly, to our ears the band was at their best on harder, more experimental numbers including the fuzz bass powered psych-influenced 'Tomorrow Is My Turn', early social commentary ('Lost Generation') and the Byrds-styled jangle rocker 'That's Love'. Not exactly the year's most exciting release, it's still an interesting set that we routinely pull out for a listen. 

"Ding! Dong! the Witch Is Dead" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead (E.V. Harburg - Harold Arlen) - 2:02
2.) Kisses for Breakfast (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:42
3.) I'm a Believer (Neil Diamond) - 2:38
4.) Tomorrow Is My Turn (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:37
5.) It's Waiting There for You (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:24
6.) That's Love (Rick Engler - Don Askew) - 3:15

(side 2)

1.) The Goofin Song (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:25
2.) No. 1 Hippie On the Village Scene (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:37
3.) Midnight Hour (Wilson Picket - Steve Cropper) - 2:55
4.) Rub-a-Dub (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:47
5.) Birds & Bees (Herb Newman) - 2:19
6.) Lost Generation (Wad Wadhams - Don Askew) - 2:15

Over the next two years the group repeatedly tried for a follow-up, releasing a string of attractive top-40 oriented efforts ('Morning, Morning' b/w 'Tomorrow Is My Turn' (Jubliee catalog number Jubilee J 5607) but never hit the charts again. Frustrated, and with the band line-up constantly changing (several members were drafted), by the end of 1969 the group called it quits. Reportedly, by the time their last two singles were released ('Mickey Mouse Club March' b/w 'I Knew You Before I Met You (Jubilee catalog number J????) and 'Parade of the Wooden Soldiers' b/w '' (Jubilee catalog number J????), the record company had simply absorbed the group, replacing the original line up with a collection of studio musicians.




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