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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pivotal & brave...,
Sitting in between "Mr Tambourine Man" & "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (albums through which the Byrds asserted and consolidated their position as international pop stars) and "Younger Than Yesterday" (an album which firmly established them as a "new-wave"/"progressive" West Coast band), "Fifth Dimension" captures them in major transition mode.
With its curious mix of smooth folk-pop ("Wild Mountain Thyme" & "John Riley"), straight R&B ("Hey Joe" & "Captain Soul"), new and now dated recording techniques ("2-4-2 Foxtrot"), political commentary ("I Come And Stand At Every Door"), drug references ("What's Happening! " and "5D") and brilliant innovation ("Eight Miles High" and "I See You"), this record perfectly captures the diverse influences swirling around the music scene in early 1966. And... while the end result now appears unfocused it clearly reflects the problem facing creative pop groups of the time: how to assimilate these new, untested and rapidly developing influences into any form of cohesive, commercially viable whole.
The Beatles did it much better with "Revolver" but the Byrds came an admirable second with "Fifth Dimension": more flawed, less polished and much less satisfying but, at the time, equally important in that it showed that a group previously filed under "mainstream pop" was no longer bound by its past or the expectations of its record buying public. Alongside Revolver's "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Love To You" and "I Want To Tell You", Fifth Dimension's "Eight Miles High" and the wonderful "I See You" sent a clear message that the music world was in the process of radical change. The impact of these tracks on fans expecting more of the same - i.e. tuneful, properly structured three minute pop songs - was serious confusion but, the impact on their musical peers was enormous. If the Beatles and the Byrds - two of the most popular groups in the world at the time - could get away with putting such radically new music on mass market albums, then so could they. Within a year the musical landscape had changed forever but, what followed in the UK and the USA owed a great deal to the bravery of both groups in pushing their music into new and potentially far less popular areas.
As such, "Fifth Dimension" stands out as a pivotal record... not as good as their subsequent West Coast masterpieces - "Younger Than Yesterday" & "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" - but braver and in many ways much more important.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Masterpiece,
This really is one of those albums that changed everything. Before Sgt Peppers, before Piper at the Gates of Dawn there was Fifth Dimension. If you've heard "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Mr Tambourine Man" you could be mistaken for thinking the Byrds were purely a light folk, sing-along pop group. This album does have moments like that, most notably the title track, "Wild Mountain Tyne" and "John Riley", but there's much more besides. "Mr Space Man" provides the first hint that we're into uncharted territory. It's funny, and as the title suggests, a little spacey. Then "I See You" kicks in, and you know you're listening to a first-rate psychedelic album. The thing is with the Byrds, no matter how weird they get they always manage to keep it tuneful and accessible. This is especially true of "Eight Miles High" and "Why", both improvisation-based experimental pieces that still somehow manage retain the trade-mark Byrds harmonies. Beautiful and strange. I love it. And the RCA bonus tracks, well... what can I say. Some of the best music ever recorded, in my humble opinion. But don't take my word for it, read some of these other reviews...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars .....and when we touch down,
Tour-de-Force. That's how I'd classify "Eight Miles High". This time the sounds that Jim McGuinn heard in his head were John Coltrane and Indian raga. A curious mixture to apply to a ballad on the subject of flying from a man who was reputedly scared of the same but maybe it was the release of "when we touch down".. An ominous bass guitar kicks it off followed by the McGuinn's 12 strings in psychedelic mode though the word "Psychedelic" wasn't even in the popular vocabulary yet. The song itself is one of the most unusual that Gene Clark has ever written; although he was the prime author there were also modifications from Crosby and McGuinn. It has almost an anthemic feel until the deliberately jazzy break where Mcguinn is in full improvisational mode. It may be one of the earliest freakouts on record even if it's of limited length. The influence of the single was enormous. Would the Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd have even existed without it?
"I see you", written by McGuinn and Crosby, is more of the same. It has an unusual time signature for rock plus flattened chords more evocative of jazz. Dissonant improvising guitar cuts right across at times. Not quite as memorable as "Eight Miles High" but still well worth having. This is the album on which Crosby emerges as a songwriter in his own right. "What's happening" on which his name features is limited melodically but has good guitar effects, making it the third psychedelic number on the album.
Whilst less obviously str.iking than "Eight Miles High" , "I come and stand at every door " pushes the ominous button to an even greater extent. Pete Seeger is, once again the inspiration for McGuinn. It's an adaptation of a poem by a Turkish poet on the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Perhaps it's not surprising that this track occurs at the end of vinyl side 1; in the previous albums Jim had shown his habit of saving his specialties for side closers. Unfortunately the side 2 closer this time, "2-4-2 Fox Trot" is a complete indulgence, a waste of album space.
The Byrds haven't ditched folk rock completely; two of the album highlights are in this vein. Both are British traditional songs given striking new arrangements. "Wild Mountain Thyme" which is more commonly known as "Will ye go Lassie, go" has full orchestral accompaniment.. The 12 strings are still there holding down the main pulse but they're less prominent. The singing is choral with splendid harmonisation. Arguably this is a move towards easy listening but for me it works. "John Riley", the other folk song, is more urgent with ensemble guitars carrying the rhythm. One again the orchestra enters but not until half way though , from whence it build to a climax. Again the Byrds are choral rather than solo. Right at the end there is a hint of dissonance, possibly a reference across to the psychedelic tracks. Interestingly an instrumental version of this number is present within the bonus tracks. It's faster and consists largely of McGuinn improvising. Possibly some of this might have been planned for the issued version.
"Mr Spaceman", one of the Byrds better known songs, deserves a mention. Written and sung by Jim McGuinn, it's an up-tempo country tune, of almost a cornball variety, with Jim pleading to the spaceman, "....please take me along". Was this Jim taking the mickey out of himself? To me, it`s not one of the Byrds greater moments but it was another indication of an interest in country music.
This leaves three tracks on the official release. "Hey Joe", for which writing credit is incorrectly given to Dino Valenti, was almost a rites-of-passage song for LA garage bands well before Jimi released his version. It's taken at speed. Crosby apparently insisted on singing it. I'll just say it's different and move on. The instrumental "Captain Soul" offers up pretty convincing proof that the Byrds aren't really into blues rock. The final number is the title track, "Fifth Dimension". It has the old sound plus words which want to be thought progressive . It's lacking in spark in my view.
The bonus tracks are of more interest than the add-ons on the previous albums. In addition to the aforementioned "John Riley" there are two versions of "Why", a good number which appears on the next album and an alternate, and earlier, version of "Eight Miles High". The others are disposable.
And that's it. I've covered this album in in a bit more depth than the others because it's the first one I bought in vinyl. Consequently I feel I know it backwards, warts and all. On such a short album, the presence of at least two, maybe three, duff tracks is a bit of a price to pay for one all time killer plus several others which are very well crafted. But there's no doubt that the Byrds were trying very hard to break out of a creative rut - note the lack of a Dylan song - so perhaps it's fair to expect a few failures.
Four stars but please see also my comment against album number one.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magic Carpet Ride,
This has to be one of the finest Byrds albums. The original line up without Gene Clark.It must be worth the purchase price just to listen to Wild Mountain Thyme, Eight Miles High, and the Lear Jet Song (such a fantastic track).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From 1966 Another Top Notch Album From The Byrds.,
Mr Tambourine Man and Turn Turn Turn got The Byrds off to a flying start with Folk Rock to the fore.
Fifth Dimension opened up a new Pandora's Box of tricks and most of the time they worked.
There's no Bob Dylan songs, but this time the band don't need them as they put out some fantastic tracks, including 2 versions of Eight Miles High.
There's also some traditional folk numbers Wild Mountain Thyme and John Riley, which soar to great heights to this listerner.
Another superb song is a bonus track, Why.
The Byrds just sound right to me more times than not!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An album ahead of its time,
From start to finish this is a true masterpiece, with gorgeous harmonies and advanced subject matter for its time.
This truely shows how Crosby and McGuinn were maturing as songwriters.
The remastered version also contains Crosby and McGuinn answering questions to a sixties radio show on the release of this album.
No collection is complete without it!
It also contains the best unreleased version of Why.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Byrds at their Best !,
A great collection of songs from one of the legendary American bands of the sixties, highlighting the great vocals of Roger McGuinn.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unlisted surprise,
This 1996 Sony edition of Fifth Dimension contains additional material, tacked on to the last track (17). After a few seconds pause, we hear Roger McGuinn and David Crosby in an 'open-ended' interview, cut to various lengths.
These were interview discs sent to radio stations to promote shows while an act was on tour, a not uncommon promotional tool during the 1960s. Curiously, AM Top 40 stations probably wouldn't have 'wasted time' with them, when they could've been airing hits and commercials; and 1966 was too early for FM progressive format radio. But thankfully, Columbia thought to provide it!
Open-ended vinyl interview discs (and this) contain only the artists' answers and the local DJ would 'ask' the questions from the script that accompanied the disc. Crosby and McGuinn are great mates on this and keen to speak about the 5D tracks.
If this is also included in the Byrds' boxed set, perhaps someone can mention it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifth dimension psych.,
This review is from: Fifth Dimension (MP3 Download)
Great catchy tunes of the fifth dimension. Need to sing along to on your Byrds trip. 1960s man. Far out!
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars byrds rockin and rollin,
this album with the 4 byrds mquinn hillman and crosby and micheal clark is very good (like the byrds always are) gene clarke left before they started working on the album but he is till playing tamburine and singing on the very rocking track eight miles high and is also playing harmonica on the blues/rock n roll instrumental captain soul its a very good cd and it has a little bit more raw style thanthe first albums mr tambourine man and turn turn turn but it has some very touching songs aswell the secound song on cd is a ballad with very nice romantic lyrics and good vocals even has with a bit of string orcestra in it it is a very good cd i think mr space man has a touch of coury and i see you i rockin(but has strange lyrics) and crosbys whats happening features very good flowing music with good guitar and beat (12 string guitar of course)
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