The Fifth Dimension – Live!!

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  • Live!! finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
  • Bones Howe once again engineered, which means you can be sure the tonality is correct from top to bottom and the breath of life is captured beautifully in the midrange
  • The sound here is rich and full-bodied with much less grain and much more Tubey Magic than every other copy we played
  • Hal Blaine on the drums, Joe Osborne on bass and Larry Knechtel on keyboards – not too shabby!
  • 4 stars: “The performance offers an adequate sampling of the 5D’s classics and concurrent pop songs that attendees would likely be familiar with.”

This vintage Bell Records pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are listening live to the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Live!! have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional recording space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Live!!

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Love Medley: What The World Needs Now Is Love / All You Need Is Love / Have You Tried Love?
I Just Wanta Be Your Friend
Florence’s Greeting
Laura Nyro Medley: Stoney End / Stoned Soul Picnic / Sweet Blindness / Wedding Bell Blues / Save The Country

Side Two

Lamonte’s Intro
I Want To Take You Higher
Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)

Side Three

Never My Love
Eli’s Coming
Together Let’s Find Love
Shake Your Tambourine

Side Four

Jimmy Webb Medley: Up-Up And Away / Paper Cup / This Is Your Life / The Girls’ Song / The Worst That Could Happen / Mac Arthur Park
Ode To Billy Joe
Lamonte’s Group Introductions

AMG 4 Star Review

Captured in the act here are Lamonte McLemore, Ron Townson, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, and Florence LaRue during an early-’70s stint on the Vegas Strip, in the main room of Caesar’s Palace. The performance offers an adequate sampling of the 5D’s classics and concurrent pop songs that attendees would likely be familiar with.

The “love” themed medley starts things off with a hot-steppin’ “What the World Needs Now” that segues into a quirky reading of “All You Need Is Love” and winds down with Jimmy Webb’s exceptional “Have You Tried Love.” The funky and thoroughly entertaining interpretation of Curt Boettcher’s ” I Just Want to Be Your Friend” is marked by some tasty brass, perfectly supporting the powerful vocalists. After a brief greeting from LaRue, the 5D launch into an extensive combo of Laura Nyro compositions. “Stoney End,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,””Sweet Blindness,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Save the Country” all figure prominently in the 5D’s songbook. “Never My Love” — a significant side for the Association several years earlier — is one of two singles to be lifted from The 5th Dimension/Live!! with McCoo incorporating a hauntingly lovely lead.

We return momentarily to the Nyro catalog for the outstanding musical production of “Eli’s Coming” before mellowing out considerably on the Davis, Jr./McCoo duet “Together Let’s Find Love,” which was the album’s second 45. “Shake Your Tambourine” instantly recalls James Brown thanks in part to Bob Alcivar’s top-shelf orchestration, not to mention arrangements by the group’s musical director Rene DeKnight. A six-song Jimmy Webb assortment follows with “Up, Up and Away,” “Paper Cup,” “This Is Your Life,” “The Girl’s Song,” “The Worst That Could Happen,” and “MacArthur Park” all packed into a nearly seven-minute medley that earns the 5D a deserved ovation. Another highlight is the palpably paranoid dramatization of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe.”

Each member adopts a role as the dark tale is unraveled before the listener’s ears. Wrapping up the festivities is a full-throttle and audience interactive version of “I Wanna Take You Higher” concluding with an equally incendiary “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.”

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