Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
An insider's look at "Soul & Inspiration"
John Florez | Scottsdale, Arizona United States | 08/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I had the privilege of producing four of the cuts on this album. After having previously produced The Friends of Distinction, Five Flights Up, and the Hues Corporation, it was a pleasure to finally work with the "real deal", The Fifth Dimension - consummate professionals and any producer's dream. Though we did not particularly get along with Clive Davis, we made the best of an awkward situation by experimenting with and cutting a potpourri of musical styles on this project.
Ironically, my favorite cut on the album is "Somebody Warm Like Me", which was produced - not by me - by Bones Howe and featured Billy at his best and the group with an intricate vocal arrangement reminiscent of their earlier work with Jim Webb. Since Clive was leaning away from Bone's style at that time, I still feel our cut, "No Love in the Room", should have been the initial single from this album instead of our re-make of Bill Wither's "Harlem". Oh, well. Spilled milk and all that...
What only Clive, the group, and I knew then is that one of the best songs we rehearsed, "I Honestly Love You" was "on hold" for us IF AND ONLY IF Olivia Newton John didn't release it first as her next single - which, of course, she did. My opinion: Marilyn and the group sounded so good on it that we should have recorded it anyway and left it as an album cut.
Further, Clive insisted on our recording the Eagle's "Best of My Love" and never fully understood why a 5 piece, Black vocal group couldn't make their harmonies sound more like the original rock group's version. Duh. Had I been offered more creative control, I would have omitted this cut from the album altogether and replaced it with Billy's brilliant version of "Crazy Spaces", a performance which will forever remain unheard as it gathers dust in the Arista vault.
At the time, Clive wasn't happy with us, nor we with him. For whatever reason, he simultaneously pulled "No Love in the Room" AND the album from radio stations and retail stores, while the single was in the midst of climbing the charts with several of Billboard's coveted bullets. A successful relationship spanning several years with Arista (formerly Bell Records) was inauspiciously dissolved, and The Fifth Dimension quickly signed a new deal with Jim Webb and ABC Dunhill Records.
The reason I give the album only 3 stars? Easy. I know the album "that could have been". Soul & Inspiration was a hodge-podge of cuts with way too many producers, so that, in the end, there was no unifying "sound", no glue, to the project - just an interesting smorgasbord of musical experiments - mine included. But, all things considered, as Ronnie Milsap once sang, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world!" Hey 5th, you're the best!!!
Peace Brotha | Ohio, United States | 08/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I received my copy of SOUL AND INSPIRATION and it was worth every penny for the bonus tracks.
According to the liner notes, the 7 tracks not originally used for the album were produced by long-time 5th associate Bones Howe, and they surely sound like it (which is a good thing). But the 5th and Bones were having some differences after 7 years of working together, so they went with the more contemporary sounding tracks that fit the rest of the album.
But ... anyone that loves that unique black supper club sound 5D had will cherish these tracks. None are throwaways, or demos, or anything like that. They were finished cuts that literally sat on the shelf until now. I hadn't even seen these on any bootlegs, like the horrible bonus cuts on the Live set (and it's obvious why those were canned).
The tracks that originally found their way onto this 1974 masterpiece are all choice and have held up well over the last 30+ years. Hard Core Poetry is easily one of the best songs the Fifth Dimension ever committed to tape, and that's saying something. You'll also enjoy all of the songs that had the potential to have been top 40 hits (missed opportunities due to poor marketing): Somebody Warm Like Me, I Don't Know How To Look For Love, the title track; well, why don't we just say the whole album, since cut for cut, the songs are really that good.
The voices, harmonies, song selections, crisp production, lush arrangements and the overall energy made this a standout album upon its initial release, and it still sounds good. I had the LP and the sonic quality was outstanding then; this reissue takes it up a notch with the remastering.
When you hear the bonus tracks produced by Bones, you will instantly notice they sound somewhat dated compared to the original S&I tracks, like more of the late 60's 5D. But viewed from today's perspective they are absolute gems, even if they may not fit in smoothly with the flow of the original album. Hardcore fans will be thrilled to have them.
This reissue of SOUL AND INSPIRATION is an A+ effort that is a must for any fan of mid-70's soulful pop, but especially for fans of the Fifth.
2nd to Last Original 5th Dimension Album
gassy goon | 07/12/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"So glad that CCM has released the rest of The 5th Dimension's Bell Label albums on CD. This was their last for Bell in 1974. Most of it is produced by a new producer, John Flores, as the group ended it's association with longtime producer of their trademark sound, Bones Howe. In my view, they needed the change as their sound from 1972-1973 in particular became too formula, and more easy listening. There is a new found energy and more soulful songs like HARLEM, MY SONG, and HARD CORE POETRY. Billy Davis Jr. injects a lot of of the well needed energy on these songs. YOU'RE MY SOUL AND INSPIRATION is mostly a Marilyn & Billy duet, paving the way for their own career. The other songs are pretty much in the standard 5th sound, with some tracks produced by Bones. I think this album was an improvement from 1973's LIVING TOGETHER GROWING TOGETHER. It didn't yield any hits though. And so the original 5th did one last album, EARTHBOUND for ABC, reuniting with producer Jimmy Webb. And that is a dynamite album with new sounds & the group sounding very invigorated.
SOUL AND INSPIRATION adds bonus tracks from the cancelled Bones Howe sessions. Wish I could say these offer some fantastic finds, but they are very middle of the road, predictable formula heavy on ballads. No wonder why they didn't release it. Most interesting is a cover of Three Dog Night's OUT IN THE COUNTRY, which can't beat the original. Nice to have as bonus tracks though. The reissuers did miss including the 1973 single FLASHBACK [ although you can get it on the 2 CD set UP UP AND AWAY: THE DEFINITIVE 5TH DIMENSION ]. It's b-side DIGGIN' FOR A LIVING is a great soul stirring rocker by Billy Davis Jr. and is not on here. Good thing I have the 45, because it's a killer that lights a fire for the group. Too bad they did not include it here on CD."