The Byrds

Another Dimension

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As exquisitely packaged as this release of the Byrds Fifth Dimension outtakes is -- presenting two 10" six-song vinyl EPs in a gatefold sleeve -- Another Dimension is really for collectors only, though it doesn't pretend to be anything else. The first disc offers half-a-dozen instrumental backing tracks of alternate takes, two of them for outtakes that didn't even make the original Fifth Dimension LP. While there are definite differences to be heard (as well as an opportunity to focus on and study the instrumental parts without interference from vocals), most of the tracks aren't radically variant from the familiar official versions, though it's interesting to hear some different lead guitar work on "Eight Miles High" (and a considerably longer solo), as well as a long instrumental version of "2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)" without the sound effects. "John Riley I" is not merely a backing track to the "John Riley" song that appeared on Fifth Dimension, however; it's a wholly different, faster, and far more jazz-psychedelicized arrangement, with some quite interesting Roger McGuinn lead guitar work. It's also about a minute longer than the version that appears as a Fifth Dimension CD bonus track; adding all these factors together, it qualifies as the most interesting item excavated by this album, other than the alternate "Eight Miles High" backing track.

Disc two contains noticeable variations rather than wholly different performances, including "John Riley" (the vocal version from the actual Fifth Dimension LP, which is entirely different from the "John Riley I" instrumental) and "Wild Mountain Thyme" without string overdubs; a slightly longer version of "I See You" without overdubs; a longer version of "Captain Soul," again without overdubs; a longer version of "What's Happening?!?!," with a "partial alternate vocal"; and "Hey Joe," recorded not at the Fifth Dimension sessions, but for an April 1967 Swedish radio broadcast. So overall, Another Dimension is the kind of thing you find on bootlegs aimed at highly specialized collectors, but here given an authorized issue, with the top-notch sound quality achieved by using the original tapes. The inner gatefold includes the fascinating transcript of a March 1966 press conference in which Roger McGuinn and David Crosby discuss the raga-rock pioneered on the Byrds' "Eight Miles High"/"Why" single; it's actually the most interesting thing about this release.