Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock, Broadway & Vocalists
Listen to Samples
5th Dimension becomes a dimension for five
J. Collins | 05/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Portrait" was supposed to have been a blockbuster in the mold of the group's last Soul City album, "Age of Aquarius," and though it does provide fans with an enjoyable and memorable recording, it's flaws are worth noting.Foremost among these flaws is the splintering of the group's trademark ensemble vocals with "vocal solos" being credited unnecessarily. Bell Records saw Marilyn as the star vocalist of the group (despite Billy's powerful contributions to 5D's hit canon), and though Marilyn's gorgeous soprano DID help push the group to stardom, favoring her led to in-fighting and the eventual breakup of the original group. Ironically, Marilyn's definitive performance of "One Less Bell..." was a fluke hit, released as the album's third single only after it garnered impressive regional airplay. The first single, the "Declaration" medley, was a blatant attempt to recreate the success of "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In," and though the medley itself is a novel concoction, it was an overlong and downright poor choice for a lead single. Though not an outright failure, it's revolutionary sentiments were too tame for the Left, and possibly scary for the Right. 45's of this single split the song in half to accomodate time limitations for the medium, and listeners were understandably puzzled by a song that drew a third of it's lyrics from the Declaration of Independence. Ironically, when the group performed this medley live at the White House, it was followed by dead silence until Nixon stood and started a round of applause. In some ways the medley is a remarkable piece, and is certainly the most overtly 'political' music 5D ever recorded.Fortunately, there is a lot more to "Portrait" than it's major hit and it's major failing."Puppet Man" begins the album with a definite rock edge, and also provides some evidence for the better sound mastering done at Bell. (Original 5D albums for Soul City were recorded with tape equipment that became out-moded within a few years, as the technology rapidly improved.) "Feelin' Alright" echoes that sound and style very well, and seems poorly sequenced...Bacharach's "One Less Bell..." is sandwiched between the peppier pair. Florence turns in a wonderful performance on Jimmy Webb's "This Is Your Life," backed by a fantastic ensemble vocal. "A Love Like Ours" is a pleasant offering, with a five part harmony that is typical of their earliest (and best) work as a group.Laura Nyro's "Save The Country" is a bouncy and heartfelt call to arms for all peace-loving souls; it's a shame it wasn't a bigger hit. "Dimension 5ive" is an essential listen for anyone who thinks that 5D are "just singers." The vocal lines themelves are daunting, with several tempo changes and a fair amount of dynamic range. Incoporating elements of vocal jazz and tight harmony, this song is a great example of how 5D brought soul into what would have been a bland recording by any other artist.This re-issue CD of "Portrait" includes "On The Beach...", a non-album single that was supposed to be "the" beach song in the Summer of '70. Perhaps the novelty of beach songs was wearing thin, because this groovy, dreamy song barely even registered on the charts. In any case, it is a fine addition that should have appeared on the concurrent album.Sound for this CD is exceptional, and gives rise to some hope that the remainder of 5D's catalog on Bell ("Love's Lines...", "Individually & Collectively," "LIVE! ", "Living Together...", and "Soul & Inspiration") will see similar digital 'revivals' in the near future. For casual fans of the 5th, "Portrait" is a 50-50 choice, since all the hits are well documented elsewhere. If your interest extends to the group's history (that means hits plus filler/failures), this is an essential addition to your collection.-Mic"
Another early 70s gem!
Music Lover | Annapolis, MD | 11/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Seeing the prices that are being asked for this CD really makes me feel guilty for picking it up for under $10 in my local Used CD Store.
Anyway, the 5th Dimension had that wonderful blend of pop & soul that gets criticised by some today as not being "black enough". White singers are accepted singing in all sorts of styles so why can't black singers?
This album in particular shows the group at their peak. The massive hit ballad "One Less Bell To Answer" is included here with Marilyn McCoo giving a heart wrenching performance. The rocking "Puppet Man" wasn't much of a hit but I think it is a fun song. I nearly wore out my copy of the 45.
Another great ballad, maybe the best on the album, is "This Is Your Life" which is sung by Florence LaRue who does a wonderful job.
The "Declaration of Independence/People Gotta Be Free/Change Is Gonna Come" medley took awhile to grow on me, but it definitely displays the group's soulfulness especially on the vocals of Billy Davis Jr.
The "Puppet Man" b side, "A Love Like Ours" is a nice, breezy song which goes through some interesting tempo changes & you get to hear the guys' voices more prominently.
This CD also offers a bonus track, the off beat ballad "On The Beach" which again displays some great vocals by Billy Davis.
I also have the group's anthology. If you are looking for another album to get besides a Hits Collection, this might be for you. Years ago, I had the "Aquarius" album which wasn't bad, but forced to choose between that album & "Portrait" I'd pick "Portrait".
In conclusion, the music on this CD represents a nice period of the 70s which is often overlooked when you could turn on the radio & hear a nice variety of music (Beatles; Motown; 5th Dimension; Aretha Franklin; Isley Bros; Carpenters; Streisand; Chi-lites; Al Green & great one shots like "Brandy" by Looking Glass & others all on the same station - sometimes during the same hour)."
A Fine, Soulful, and Patriotically-Stirring Release!
David Allan Hitchcock | Bellevue, WA USA | 04/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 5th LP from the 5D (Their first for Bell Records,) was a somewhat surprising divergence from the Laura Nyro and Jimmy Webb coverage of the past, (though both are represented with one cut each on this release.) The story behind the 1970 release on 45 of their reading of the Declaration of Independence, "The Declaraction," is pretty amusing, considering the atmosphere of the Nixon era."On The Beach (In The Summertime)" is a great addition to the album (most of us grumbled when it never made it to LP originally) that wonderfully compliments the Lamonte McLemore number, "A Love Like Ours." Billy's rendition of Sam Cooke's moving, "A Change Is Gonna Come," (in "the Medley") has always been one of my favorites. This album goes great with 4th of July bar-b-que picnic get-togethers! Its got familiar hits, great cover tunes, reflective numbers, and even a jazzy, "Swingle Singer / Manhattan Transfer-styled" number in "Dimension 5ive."A great set from the talented 5D, excellent re-packaging for CD (with detailed liner notes & credits,) PLUS the delightfully welcome BONUS TRACK! This one is a keeper, get it while you can!"