The 5th Dimension

A Portrait/Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes

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The purveyors of the past at Collectors' Choice Music deserve major props for their top-shelf restoration of the 5th Dimension's Soul City and Bell Records catalogs. Contained on this CD are the vocal quintet's fifth and six studio titles, 1970's Portrait and 1971's Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes. These projects find the 5D boasting the considerable talents of Lamonte McLemore, Ron Townson, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, and Florence Larue at the peak of their prowess, building upon a streak of pop hits that had already yielded such timeless entries as "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Wedding Bell Blues," and the definitive '60s anthem "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)." Portrait marked the beginning of the combo's professional relationship with Bell Records after their former imprint -- the Johnny Rivers-owned Soul City -- went belly-up. Listeners would have been hard-pressed to detect those changes, as the 5D returned with their proven behind-the-scenes production posse intact. That coterie was headed up by the inimitable team of Bones Howe (producer) and Bob Alcivar (vocal arrangements). They also realigned themselves with several key compositional contributors from their past, most notably Jimmy Webb ("This Is Your Life") and Laura Nyro ("Save the Country") -- both of whom were featured on the band's charting 45s. Speaking of which, the 5D turned in a funky reading of the Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield-penned "Puppet Man," which became a sizable hit on both the Top 40 Pop and Adult Contemporary charts. However, it was Burt Bacharach and Hal David's affective ballad "One Less Bell to Answer" that would become the LP's signature side, reaffirming their remarkable staying power and crossover appeal. By comparison, Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes seems slightly less dated. Among the standouts on the platter are another pair of Laura Nyro covers -- "Time and Love" as well as the yearning "He's a Runner." The title track, "Love's Lines, Angles, and Rhymes," was the sole single to make much of an impact, landing in the Top 20 Pop survey. Deeper album cuts worth spinning are the remakes of Junior Walker's "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)?," "Light Sings," and a spirited update of Nilsson's "The Rainmaker" that offers Townson a chance to step out. Last but far from least is their take on Paul McCartney's "Every Night." Added as a bonus is the Portrait-era song "On the Beach (In the Summertime)," which had been released as a single b/w Jimmy Webb's "This Is Your Life," and can be found tacked between the two LPs.

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