The 5th Dimension - The Age of Aquarius

The 5th Dimension
The Age of Aquarius

Released 1969 on Soul City
Reviewed by Lawrence, 13/03/2011ce

I know what you're thinking. The 5th Dimension are an unhip group to write about in this day and age, known for songs that only currently get airplay on either oldies or easy-listening stations, and also considered a hippie-rock cash-in.

But I arguably think this is an important group that stretched out from pop to soul/R&B. Although their first big hit was the rather whimsical "Up Up and Away", this album called the Age of Aquarius had two much more substantial hits under its belt, of course including the title track originally from the Hair soundtrack. Although the much better song was the late Laura Nyro penned "Wedding Bell Blues", one of those songs that used to haunt me since childhood. Featuring a stellar vocal by Marilyn McCoo (or I think that's her,) the theme was marriage and the emotional ambivalence and overall pressure that results from the prospect of it. This was a classic late-60s sour-end of the Flower Children type song, where nothing was ever certain anymore, and intentions weren't as pure as a couple of years before. This would be followed next year by the Bacharach/David composition "One Less Bell to Answer", that typical "break-up" song but with increased melancholy that really hit you hard when you listened more closely. But I digress...

The rest of the album is worthwhile too -- the 5th Dimension weren't one of those kind of groups that resorted to album-filler. The only clunker is "Skinny Man", of course, which is near-parody material. But Laura Nyro has one other great song here ("Blowing Away"), as well as Neil Sedaka's attempt to come to terms with the 60's with "Workin' on a Groovy Thing". And they take a crack at "Sunshine of Your Love" and it's pretty good, I'd say... Not to mention they funk-ify "Those Were the Days". And don't forgot their most soulful moment here, "Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' To Ya."

So if you're open to what might be the cheesier end of 60s pop music, there's plenty of surprises on the Age of Aquarius you may actually enjoy.

Reviews Index