the Bee Gees reinvented themselves for the disco era, The 5th
Dimension called for the return of Jimmy Webb, the youngster who
single-handedly wrote and produced their first album Magic Garden.
But it was not to be. Webbs advice for singles Magic In My
Life and Walk Your Feet In The Sunshine, composed by Webb, failed
to chart well. Earthbound became the last album by the original
quintet of Billy Davis Jr, Marilyn McCoo, Florence La Rue, Lamonte
McLemore and Ron Townson. It was also to be one of the last Jimmy
Webb produced albums.
seems the 5th Dimension wanted to come back on this album
as a harmony group since their last two albums Individually &
Collectively and Living Together, Growing Together had seen them
singing more solos. The distance of time, however, suggests it was
the audience that had changed rather than any drop in quality material
or superlative performance to account for Earthbounds dismal
chart position and sales. Webb offered a collection of songs that
emphasised the message of harmony and oneness with nature. The cover
art showed the five parachuting onto the earth and instantly taking
choice of covers was eclectic. There was George Harrisons
album track Be Here Now, possibly the only time it was ever covered,
given an ethereal soul spin with shimmering instrumentation. One
of the Beatles final songs Ive Got A Feeling is boosted
by Webb to reach new Gospel heights, an innovation that Lennon &
McCartney probably never saw.
side two, where all of Webbs compositions reside (except for
the single Walk Your Feet In The Sunshine), the Rolling Stones
Moonlight Mile is just before the final track, Earthbound (Epilogue).
Moonlight Miles quality has always been the tasty licks of
Mick Taylor that gives the song its haunting quality. Webb again
doesnt disappoint. What sounds like sitars and tubular bells
announce the song as the 5th Dimension comes in with
a warm harmony. Their voices echo the title repeatedly, to recall
Mick Taylors leads. Billy Davis lead vocal shows just
why the group was such a competitor to Motown.
two singles picked by Webb was what was requested of him
they both recalled past hits, with strong harmonies and left-of-center
melodies. Walk Your Feet In The Sunshine is as happy as the title
suggests. A mid-song break has trumpets parp-parping like Sgt Peppers
march. Magic In My Life (a non-Webb composition) has one of the
girls on solo vocals with the magical 5th Dimension singing
together on the chorus.
the two sides, Webbs side with the two pleading ballads When
Did I Lose Your Love, a Marilyn McCoo solo and Lean On Me Always
with Billy Davis taking the lead; plus Speaking With My Heart, Moonlight
Mile and the epilogue of Earthbound (which is a soul odyssey) will
be the one in demand.
and Davis left the group after Earthbound. The 5th Dimension continued
with ABC Records and released the single Love Hangover which featured
LaRue on lead. It was climbing the charts when Motown Records decided
to quickly release Diana Ross version that was on her LP.
It was clearly a race between The 5th Dimension and Diana Ross.
Even the sheet music to the song had both The 5th Dimension and
Diana Ross pictured on the cover. Ross won with Love Hangover, taking
it to the top of the charts. - Michael Cheah
Ron Townson died in Aug 2001.)
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