From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
The 5th Dimension was a late 60s through early 70s L.A. pop band that successfully fused seamless harmonies and various music styles (R&B, jazz, soul) into a unique yet highly polished and accessible sound. This formula, along with the outside songwriting genius of composers like Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro, transformed the group into a hit factory, churning out one smash after another, including timeless songs like 'Up, Up And Away’, 'Wedding Bell Blues' and 'Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In'. Although not really considered a "psychedelic" band, the group did dabble in the genre and because of the original melodies, high production quality and subtle complexity that can be found in many of their songs, this slick ensemble cannot be ignored by TWOS.
The group's origin can be traced back to the early 60s when Lamonte McLemore and former beauty pageant winner Marilyn McCoo got together with Harry Elston and Floyd Butler to form the Hi-Fis. They started out singing in clubs around the L.A. area while at the same time taking lessons from a vocal coach. In 1964, they came to the attention of Ray Charles, who took them on tour with him as his backing band the following year. Internal conflicts within the group eventually caused Elston and Butler to split and go on to form the Friends Of Distinction. McLemore and McCoo forged on, bringing in established singers Florence LaRue, Ron Townson and Billy Davis, Jr., forming the Versatiles in early 1966. They auditioned for Marc Gordon, who headed Motown's L.A. office, and although their demo tape was rejected by the record company, he agreed to manage them and brought them to the attention of Johnny Rivers, who had just started his own label, Soul City Records. Rivers agreed to sign them if they updated their image and name, thus giving birth to the 5th Dimension.
The band's first single ('I'll Be Lovin' You Forever') was a flop, but a follow up cover of the Mamas & The Papas' 'Go Where You Wanna Go' in early 1967 became a U.S. Top 20 hit. This helped spawn the release of their debut LP (Up, Up And Away) in the summer of 1967, which includes the outstanding Jimmy Webb composed title track. The song peaked at #7 on the charts and went on to win a staggering five Grammy awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This success prompted the band to have Webb write all but one song on their follow up LP titled The Magic Garden, which surprisingly didn't meet commercial expectations, reaching only #105 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. The album does however contain some great material, including the standout tracks 'Carpet Man' and 'Requiem: 820 Latham'.
The summer of 1968 saw the release of a third LP (Stoned Soul Picnic), which introduced the public to another gifted songwriter, Laura Nyro, who wrote the album's outstanding title track that soared to #3 on the U.S. charts. The group reached their commercial peak with the issue of a fourth LP (The Age Of Aquarius), which includes the excellent titled track along with another Nyro classic ('Wedding Bell Blues'). Both songs hit #1 in the U.S. and the title track was featured in the musical Hair and went on to win a Grammy for Record of the Year. A fifth LP titled Portrait was issued in the spring of 1970 and includes the outstanding 'Puppet Man' and the instrumental 'Dimension 5ive'.
The group continued their success into the early 1970s, issuing a slew of U.S. hits that include 'One Less Bell To Answer' (#2 in 1970), 'Love's Lines, Angles And Rhymes' ( #19 in 1971), 'Never My Love' ( #12 in 1971), '(Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All' (#8 in 1972), and 'If I Could Reach You' ( #10 in 1972). By the mid-70s however, their popularity was waning, which prompted McCoo and Davis (who had married in 1969) to leave the fold and pursue solo careers as well as work together as a successful duet. The group continued on with a virtual revolving door of members who replaced McCoo and Davis over the years. As of April 2009, the band was actively touring as "Florence LaRue & The 5th Dimension", led by LaRue with Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker, Patrice Morris, and Floyd Smith.
Songs from this album played on TWOS:
(Original 45 Label: Soul City SCR-772, A - March, 1969)
(Original 45 Label: Soul City SCR-779, A - September, 1969)