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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.

Customer Reviews

only two more albums would be released by the original 5thD

this album was released the year i was a junior in high school in 1972. i remember singing along to the car radio with my honey michelle to "last night i didn't get to sleep at all" on the AM radio in her '60s model chevy belair during lunch to go to where else but macdonald's. the original 5th dimension members would go on to record only two more LPs together (LIving Together, Growing Together and Soul and Inspiration), the latter of which is as yet still unavailable. it was called "soul and inspiration" for the righteous brothers hit which was covered by the 5th, another excellent release focusing on the group's individual vocal talents. here on Individually & Collectively the highlights are marilyn's ultra sultry "if i could reach you", billy jr's "half moon" and a nearly perfect version of elton john/bernie taupin's "border song". it is done gospel style and touches your heart (listen for the last phrase which sounds like the end of a prayer) --- this song would have been a super selection for release as a hit single. the whole group does right by "turn around to me", a very upbeat song with a rockin' ending, and "leave a little room" will bring tears to your eyes.....billy's vocals were so under rated it is a perfect example of his greatness. the last song, "black patch" written by now deceased laura nyro (just 49 when she died from ovarian cancer) is one of her best songs - and there are nearly as many by her as were penned by the brothers Gibb. a super sax solo makes it one of the groups jazziest and longest songs they ever recorded. ron and florence's solo contributions are fine, but it's marilyn & billy doing the best solo work . however, it's the combination of the 5 members (cant forget lamonte!) that makes this exponentially so much more than the sum total of five superlative voices in total harmony.

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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