The 5th Dimension Up, Up and Away: The Definitive Collection
1997 2 disc audio CD release
Where are the Fifth Dimension now that we need them? The gaudily garbed vocal quintet could likely make a hit out of "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent," much the way they did 30 years ago for "Age of Aquarius" and "Let the Sunshine … see full wiki
They rose to the top of the pop music world virtually overnight! This talented quintet, originally known as The Versatiles, formed in Los Angeles in 1966 and within a year they had secured a recording contract with Johnny Rivers' fledgling Soul City label. Rivers loved the sound but hated their name and as a result group member Ron Townsend came up with the name we would all come to know so well...The 5th Dimension. And it did not take very long for the group to make its presence felt. Their very first single release "Go Where You Wanna Go" cracked the Billboard Top 20. Just five months later the group would score a major hit with Jimmy Webb's "Up Up and Away". Yes, The 5th Dimension was on its way! Over the next six years the group would prove to be a dominant force in American popular music amassing a total of nearly 30 charted singles and a dozen hit albums. All in all, the group boasted an impressive total of 14 gold records for their efforts.
In 1997 Arista records released the 2 disc anthology "Up Up and Away: The Definitive Collection". Arista left no stone unturned as this magnificent collection features every single one of The 5th Dimension's 29 charted singles on the Soul City and Bell labels. Throughout the late 60's and early 70's the music of The 5th Dimension was a staple on AM radio all over this land. Enjoy once again terrific tunes like "Sweet Blindness" from the summer of 1968, "(Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All" from 1972 and a pair of #1 smashes "Wedding Bell Blues" and of course the groups biggest record ever "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" from the smash Broadway rock musical "Hair". But as is so often the case some of my favorite 5th Dimension tunes were not necessarily their biggest hits. If you dig great harmony then you are almost certain to enjoy a pair of the groups early hits. Both "Paper Cup" and "Carpet Man" are an absolute joy to listen to. I am also quite partial to "Workin' On A Goovy Thing" a tune written by Neil Sedaka that hit #20 back in the summer of '69. Perhaps my very favorite song in this collection is a tune most may not be familiar with. "Ashes To Ashes" was hardly even noticed back in 1973 but featured some of the fabulous harmonies that had been a staple of the group earlier in their career.
Now you may recall that the music industry and fans alike were shocked when Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. announced that they were leaving the group in 1975. The husband and wife team recorded "You Don't Have To Be A Star" for ABC records in 1976 and it climbed all the way to #1. McCoo and Davis went on to appear in a number of successful Broadway productions. And what became of the rest of The 5th Dimension? Original members Florence LaRue, Lamont McLemore and Ron Townsend managed to keep the group together and continued to make appearances around the country. However, the days of The 5th Dimension as chartbusters had long since come to an end.
In the summer of 1991, all five members of the original 5th Dimension agreed to reunite for a series of concerts. It was the first time that they had worked together in 15 years. I was lucky enough to catch one of those shows. And believe me the magic was still there! "Up Up and Away: The Definitive Collection" features a colorful and informative 24 page booklet that offers a history of the group as well as information on each of the three dozen songs in this collection. The remastering job is also first rate. It is quite apparent to me that a lot of care went into putting this package together. I have been collecting records for more than 40 years now and this is definitely one of the best things I own. Very highly recommended!
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