Friday, December 17, 2010

Life is kinda groovy in the gutter

For those who consider the Fifth Dimension to be corny or square, you can skip this entry entirely. I for one am a unabashed fan. Their stellar harmonies and pop/soul hooks of the late sixties are essential listening for me a decade into the 21st century.

Jimmy Web wrote all but one song on their 1967 Magic Garden LP, just as he was breaking up with his longtime girlfriend Susan. Her name pops up frequently in the lyrics. A true pop/psych song cycle, there are introductions and connecting pieces between the plethora of fantastic songs. The turmoil of the breakup is reflected by the increasingly depressing song subjects. In Dream/Pax/Nepenthe the singer refers to "cobweb shadows all over her face like lacquered lace", as if some long buried memory. In the heartbreaking The Worst That Could Happen he imagines her marrying another.

The true test of real "ear candy" is a song that hooks me within five seconds. The dense syncopated piano cluster chords that open Paper Cup are absolutely smile-inducing for me. Even in my worst mood this song will perk up my spirit. Quite the enigma considering that the lyrics are one supreme downer. "And everyone says I'm quite insane, and someday I'll be going down the drain. I know they're right, but I don't care. I feel no pain."


tbrough said...

"One Less Bell To Answer"
"Age Of Aquarius"

Genius, I tells ya. I'm with you on this one, Sir.

Mister Pleasant said...

Yep Tim, as well as "Wedding Bell Blues", "Save The Country", "Stoned Soul Picnic". Love all of their 60's work.

ssspune said...

YES! YES! YES! Love the choreography--that inside/outside circle thing. I like "California Soul," too. Thank you. : )

Holly A Hughes said...

Amazing, how they were able to co-opt white singer-songwriter stuff and do that sort of folk-psychedelia thing, and still look like the most Mod soulsters ever. And no band except the Mamas and the Papas ever had such an amazing concentration of vocal talent. My personal favorite has to be "Up Up and Away" -- incredibly groovy!!