The 5th Dimension

The July 5th Album

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By 1969, the 5th Dimension were peaking in popularity and artistic success. Fresh on the heels of The Age of Aquarius, The July 5th Album is a compilation of B-sides and album cuts from their previous albums, no doubt intended to eke out some mileage from the back catalog while the gettings were good. And while the album does have a "warmed over" leftovers air to it, there are some standouts. As funny as it first seems to hear the 5th Dimension's light-as-air California pop-soul sound applied to the Cream classic "Sunshine of Your Love," it's really a vibrant, richly sung cover. The best tunes on the album are those where the R&B grit level is turned up a few notches, whether it's the Wall of Sound arrangement of "It'll Never Be the Same Again" or the more groovy Memphis soul-ish "Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' to Ya." If anything, their soulfulness is more apparent on this compilation than their popular A-side hits might suggest. By its nature, The July 5th Album is a scattered, inconsistent affair. Yet, with arrangers like Jimmy Webb, Bones Howe, Bob Alcivar, and Johnny Rivers at the helm, plus notable studio pros like Hal Blaine on the backing tracks, the level of professionalism keeps the low points (such as the cloying "Those Were the Days") from being too shallow. And it's nice to hear the 5th Dimension's multi-layered harmonies applied to classics like "Let It Be Me" and Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side of Town." Still, it's hard to justify this album for anyone but completists. None of the best-known hits are here, and even hardcore fans are likely to scoop up the other tracks on the original albums.

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