The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

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Guy E
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Guy E » 08 Nov 2011, 22:43

Balboa wrote:Charlie, thanks for the info on Stanton. I quite like the idea of Columbia putting him in there to oversee this band of misfits!

It's interesting to hear Guy's reaction to the album - no Gene Clark! When I first started getting into The Byrds in the early 90s, it was the post Clark albums that were the ones to have. If you didn't know the history of the band, 'YTY' and 'NBB' were the place to start - and McGuinn seemed to be the obvious leader of the band (that guitar sound), and more seemed to be made of Crosby's departure during 'NBB' (and the horse!). Gene Clark was this cult figure who was much harder to get info on. To imagine a time when he was seen as the driving force behind the band, or the main songwriter was almost a myth that was created afterwards, so it is great to hear a real reaction to him leaving (rather than a journalistic rewriting of it).

And I like 'Hey Joe', but then I am a big Crosby fan.

I was eleven years old and it was like seeing a new Beatles album on display picturing a trio without John Lennon. It didn't compute... it had never occurred to me that members were even allowed to leave bands.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Quaco » 08 Nov 2011, 22:44

Charlie O. wrote:
Quaco wrote:I agree with "Psychodrama City", but it's a bit less annoying than "Captain Soul", which is a bit of a mark against it.:)

Oh, I'd've made room for both, sure! :)

It is a bit odd that The Byrds always had quality material left over from their albums, and yet that their albums are so short. Fifth Dimension is a mere 30 minutes long. Did no one think that the albums might have been a bit better if they'd had, say, seven songs per side like The Beatles regularly did? Was it deliberately intended to keep it short? Were these other tracks considered sub-par while the likes of "Captain Soul" and "The Lear Jet Song" were considered keepers? (I like them, but objectively I mean...)

I think they're perfect, but I'm surprised they did at the time.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Charlie O. » 08 Nov 2011, 22:47

Quaco wrote:It is a bit odd that The Byrds always had quality material left over from their albums, and yet that their albums are so short. Fifth Dimension is a mere 30 minutes long. Did no one think that the albums might have been a bit better if they'd had, say, seven songs per side like The Beatles regularly did? Was it deliberately intended to keep it short? Were these other tracks considered sub-par while the likes of "Captain Soul" and "The Lear Jet Song" were considered keepers? (I like them, but objectively I mean...)

I think they're perfect, but I'm surprised they did at the time.

Well, the American Beatles albums were typically eleven songs - and I'll bet that had a direct influence on whoever sequenced the Byrds albums.

I suspect that "Captain Soul" was put on there so that Hillman and Clarke would make some songwriting royalties (it is a group co-write credit, is it not?).
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Guy E » 08 Nov 2011, 22:50

Quaco wrote:
Charlie O. wrote:
Quaco wrote:I agree with "Psychodrama City", but it's a bit less annoying than "Captain Soul", which is a bit of a mark against it.:)

Oh, I'd've made room for both, sure! :)

It is a bit odd that The Byrds always had quality material left over from their albums, and yet that their albums are so short. Fifth Dimension is a mere 30 minutes long. Did no one think that the albums might have been a bit better if they'd had, say, seven songs per side like The Beatles regularly did? Was it deliberately intended to keep it short? Were these other tracks considered sub-par while the likes of "Captain Soul" and "The Lear Jet Song" were considered keepers? (I like them, but objectively I mean...)

I think they're perfect, but I'm surprised they did at the time.

Isn't it all about mechanical publishing royalty rates? They were relatively higher in the US and the price of LP's was relatively lower.

Remember when Capitol Records had that budget LP series in the 1970's? They'd clip two songs off a 12-song album to save a few pennies. Most of the Beach Boys albums were slapped around like that... even The Band, their classic second album was reissued as a 10-song album without the gatefold sleeve.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Balboa » 08 Nov 2011, 22:53

Guy E wrote:I was eleven years old and it was like seeing a new Beatles album on display picturing a trio without John Lennon. It didn't compute... it had never occurred to me that members were even allowed to leave bands.


:)

Charlie O. wrote:I suspect that "Captain Soul" was put on there so that Hillman and Clarke would make some songwriting royalties (it is a group co-write credit, is it not?).


The politics and back stabbing in The Byrds is what pretty much killed the band in the end - I can imagine track selection and as a consequence, royalty payments, was a complete nightmare.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Charlie O. » 08 Nov 2011, 22:54

Guy E wrote:... even The Band, their classic second album was reissued as a 10-song album without the gatefold sleeve.

I had that. They dropped "King Harvest", for fuck's sake! And for a long time I only knew "When You Awake" from Before The Flood; the original version sounded "wrong" to me for some time after I finally heard it!
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Scally Mcgrew » 08 Nov 2011, 23:01

Great LP.

But not as good as 'Younger Than Yesterday'.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Brin » 09 Nov 2011, 14:43

Scally Mcgrew wrote:Great LP.

But not as good as 'Younger Than Yesterday'.


I agree!!
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Still Baron » 09 Nov 2011, 15:00

I'm coming around to Quaco's view. I'm a little obsessed with the folk covers which are now (strangely enough) the highlight of the record for me. Obviously it's a classic, but a very idiosyncratic one, indeed.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby algroth » 09 Nov 2011, 15:02

It could be my favorite of theirs, I'm not sure. There's no "Mind Gardens" at least.

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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Balboa » 18 Nov 2011, 23:35

Just listening again. They had some pretty good sounding harmonies didn't they? It sounds stupid to say it, but Crosby was perfect for harmony (hence his partnership with Graham Nash).

'wild Mountain Thyme' sounds like some sort of Nick Drake track (or the strings sound like Kirkby).
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Charlie O. » 18 Nov 2011, 23:41

Seeing as how it hasn't been mentioned yet: how do we feel about "What's Happening?!?!"
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Balboa » 18 Nov 2011, 23:42

Charlie O. wrote:Seeing as how it hasn't been mentioned yet: how do we feel about "What's Happening?!?!"


Love it, kinda wish the hi-hat wasn't mixed so loud.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Charlie O. » 18 Nov 2011, 23:43

You're listening to the mono version?
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Balboa » 18 Nov 2011, 23:44

Charlie O. wrote:You're listening to the mono version?


Yes, on vinyl.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Quaco » 19 Nov 2011, 00:01

I'm not so keen on "What's Happening?!?!" -- I mean there's nothing wrong with it, but it just sits there. It does slow me down enough to totally appreciate "I Come and Stand at Every Door" though. I dunno, it's a strange song. Crosby usually offers more, some different chords, some unusual melody, but this one sounds like he wrote it in his sleep. It just kind of goes along, without much change. The bendy 12-string leads are great! (Love that sound on "Why" as well.)
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Charlie O. » 19 Nov 2011, 00:11

I seem to recall that "What's Happening?!?!" was an experiment in writing a lyric that consisted of nothing but emotional reactions - no conventional narrative.

I think it's an interesting attempt in that regard, and I like the way Cros sings it. But ultimately it's more about those bendy leads and the chunky rhythm guitar for me.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby pcqgod » 19 Nov 2011, 02:04

I'd rate it as the weakest of the albums by the real Byrds.

The other guys in the group hadn't stepped up to fill in the songwriter gap left by Gene as they did on Younger and Notorious yet. Still....not bad.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby The Write Profile » 19 Nov 2011, 05:48

Yeah, count me as someone who thinks it would've been close to perfect if they had included the original, superior take of "Why", the sardonic "Pyschodrama City" (great lyric, and great Crosby vocal) and the storming "I Know My Rider", and removed, let's say, the vanilla "Captain Soul", the rather rote, shambolic take of "Hey Joe" and possibly "The Learjet Song" (although you could keep it on the grounds that it's a pretty weird thing to close on, and therefore heightens the record's strangely dissociated, displaced ambience). In fact, as others have already pointed out, you can play similar games with most of the Bryds great 60s records in terms of adding on what they left out and taking away some of the things they put on (in saying that, unlike Crosby, I'm bloody pleased "Triad" didn't make it on Notorious Byrd Bros, as it would've left a distinctly unpleasant taste. At least "Space Odyssey" is unintentionally hilarious. ).

That said, much of what is left on the record is great, particularly considering it's so short. The cataclysmic "Eight Miles High" doesn't really need trumpeting, except to say there have been few songs with such a determinedly freaked yet somehow melodious guitar sound, and the harmonies are outta sight. But I love the more downbeat and uncertain moments, whether it's the bleak "I Come And Stand At Every Door", or the meandering title track, which sounds like the best Byrds Dylan cover of a song that Dylan didn't write (particularly the way the guitars and vocals seem to tumble down in the chorus), and a sense of foreboding permeates pretty much everything except the lovely "Mr Spaceman"- a song whose optimism makes it stand out here. And I actually dig "What's Happening?!?!". I know it's not much of a song (or anything, really), but I love how confused it is, and I love how it doesn't really seem to be following any determined musical, vocal, or lyrical path at all...it's just lost.

A patchy album, for sure, but also a great one.
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Re: The Byrds - FIFTH DIMENSION - a strange album?

Postby Quaco » 28 Sep 2019, 04:15

Quaco wrote:
Charlie O. wrote:
abracadabra wrote:Funny thing is I don't have this one on vinyl so I've never seen that back cover! It's so random.

I've just noticed that Hillman doesn't seem to be represented in the back cover photos (unless he's in the background of the lower right pic... hard to tell from here).

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Top center: Could be anyone's hands.

Maybe they're Gene's??

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