ARTIST: The Byrds
TITLE: Fifth Dimension
YEAR RELEASED: 1966
CHART ACTION: #24 US, #27 UK
SINGLES: Eight Miles High (#14 US, #24 UK), 5D (Fifth Dimension (#44), Mr. Spaceman (#36)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: John Riley, Hey Joe
LINEUP: Jim McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke. Gene Clark sang on Eight Miles High then split.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Byrds lose a key songwriter, and produce an uneven album that had a lot of classic songs nonetheless.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with “5D (Fifth Dimension”, “Wild Mountain Thyme”, “Mr. Spaceman” and “I See You”, and also including “John Riley”, not to mention “Eight Miles High”, is there any way this album could be anything less than a classic?
Yes, yes there is.
The other five cuts range from trifly throwaways to David Crosby something-or-others, to a weird buzz kill of a song about Hiroshima, and an uninspired cover of “Hey Joe”. They really missed Gene Clark, since McGuinn wasn’t prolific, Hillman hadn’t really got his confidence to write yet, and Crosby was just, well…off. Plus, eleven cuts seemed a bit chintzy.
There were plenty of cuts (B-sides, etc.) that they could have used in place of one or two tracks and it’d be just another solid album. Still, this is one to have in the collection for the songs listed above. Just be judicious about skip or exiling.
NOTES & MINUTAE: Gene Clark allegedly left the group because of a fear of flying. There may be more to the story – but by the time the sessions for the album proper were undertaken he was gone. (“Eight Miles High” was recorded earlier)
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, as usual with the Byrds there’s plenty of material to add on.
GRADE: B: Oh, this could have been an A- or so if just a couple of tracks were swapped.