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Individually & Collectively

The 5th Dimension

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Album Review

"If I Could Reach You" was the 5th Dimension's 19th of 20 Top 40 entries and their last big smash, number one Adult Contemporary in September of 1972. The middle-of-the-road ballad was beautiful, but not totally indicative of the musical sophistication of their Individually & Collectively album. The jazz of "Sky & Sea" from the musical Joy has the group sounding more like the Manhattan Transfer than the 5th Dimension while Florence LaRue Gordon's vocal on Bacharach & David's "All Kinds of People" is surrounded by the group's gospel leanings. Billy Davis, Jr. tries hard to compete with Janis Joplin on John Hall of Orleans' great "Half Moon," but two years after Joplin's passing, Davis Jr. gives it too much Top 40 and not enough heart, missing the mark Janis established for the tune. The vocalist does take care of business on the Elton John/Bernie Taupin chestnut "Border Song," though, displaying the true soul absent from the aforementioned Orleans/Joplin staple. But just as "All Kinds of People" is not your typical Bacharach/David composition, "Turn Around to Me" doesn't sound like it came from the pens of Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser. That tune fuses jazz with the '60s sound the 5th Dimension was known for. On "Band of Gold," not the Freda Payne hit from 1970, they sound like an updated Platters, while Laura Nyro's "Black Patch" dips back into the jazz thing, especially with Bill Perkins' sax solo. Rounding out this sweeping stretch of genres is their masterful rendition of Fortunes/Foundations/Edison Lighthouse pure pop songwriter Tony Macaulay's "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All," which went Top Ten for this ensemble in April of 1972. Individually & Collectively is an overlooked but special album from the Bones Howe/5th Dimension catalog and is one that is most substantial.

Biography

Formed: 1966 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Fifth Dimension's unique sound lay somewhere between smooth, elegant soul and straightforward, adult-oriented pop, often with a distinct flower-power vibe. Although they appealed more to mainstream listeners than to a hip, hardcore R&B audience, they had a definite ear for contemporary trends; their selection of material helped kickstart the notable songwriting careers of Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro, and their biggest hit was a medley from the hippie musical Hair, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine...
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Individually & Collectively, The 5th Dimension
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