Formed in the early '60s, Los Angeles R&B quintet the 5th Dimension first appeared as the Hi-Fi's before changing their name in 1966 to better reflect the changing landscape of popular music. Their interpretations of some of the era's popular hits as well as songs by more obscure writers were radio mainstays in the late '60s and early '70s. This collection offers up most of their highest-charting and best-known singles like "Up, Up and Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," and their chart-topping version of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from the musical Hair. Working in multiple styles, these performances show just how versatile and dynamic the 5th Dimension were.
This record did contain the small hits "Paper Cup" and "Carpet Man," but the group, or more likely arranger/conductor Jim Webb, was probably shooting for something a bit higher than the Top 40.
The 5th Dimension were just about the most successful harmony group of the 1960s and The Ultimate 5th Dimension is easily the most comprehensive single-disc collection on the market. It documents the heyday of the group, mostly their late-'60s tenure with Johnny Rivers' Soul City label and a few tracks from their '70s stay at Bell, and it focuses on their singles – their hit singles, that is. Each of the 20 songs here (the 21st track is a previously unreleased song, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye") was a Top 35 hit or better. "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" and "Wedding Bell Blues" were their number one smashes; they also had four more Top Ten hits.
As the title implies, Individually & Collectively (1972) contains both ensemble as well as solo efforts from the 5th Dimension's Lamonte McLemore, Ron Townson, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, and Florence LaRue. However, this was certainly not the first time that the combo had ventured away from lush five-part harmonies in favor of spotlighting the members' specific talents.
Captured in the act here are Lamonte McLemore, Ron Townson, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, and Florence LaRue during an early-'70s stint on the Vegas Strip, in the main room of Caesar's Palace. The performance offers an adequate sampling of the 5D's classics and concurrent pop songs that attendees would likely be familiar with.
The subtitle on this anthology is correct: this is truly the definitive collection of the 5th Dimension's music, including all the hits and most of the album cuts that anyone could want. The 20-bit digital mastering provides a crisp, bright audio experience, and the joyous harmonies bring back the positive side of the late-'60s/early-'70s era in which the songs were recorded. The megahits are all here.
The purveyors of the past at Collectors' Choice Music deserve major props for their top-shelf restoration of the 5th Dimension's Soul City and Bell Records catalogs. Contained on this CD are the vocal quintet's fifth and six studio titles, 1970's Portrait and 1971's Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes. These projects find the 5D boasting the considerable talents of Lamonte McLemore, Ron Townson, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, and Florence Larue at the peak of their prowess, building upon a streak of pop hits that had already yielded such timeless entries as "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Wedding Bell Blues," and the definitive '60s anthem "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)."
"It Only Takes a Minute" is a 1975 song by Tavares. The song was the group's only Top 10 pop hit in the United States, peaking at #10 and their second number one song on the American soul charts. On the US Disco chart, "It Only Takes a Minute" spent five weeks at #2 and was the first of four entries on the chart. The song was subsequently covered by Jonathan King performing as 100 Ton and a Feather in 1976 and by boy band Take That in 1992.
This is a great collection of The 5th Dimension on 3 CDs. It would have easily fit on 2 CDs but I guess it was a marketing scheme to make people think they were getting more for their money. Nonetheless, it is still a great collection and features some tracks you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. The fans of this group will not want to miss this one.
This two-fer combines Stoned Soul Picnic (1968) and Age of Aquarius – the 5th Dimension's (5D) third and fourth long players – and a pair of extra tracks – onto one CD.