The 5th Dimension Traveling Sunshine Show (1971) Poster

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Overly sunny, ill-conceived musical variety does not do the group justice.
gbrumburgh-128 September 2001
The melodic Fifth Dimension had a slew of pop-soul chartbusters in the late 60s and 70s, their group patterned after the Mamas and the Papas. Originally called the "The Versatiles," they decided to change their 50s-sounding name to "hip up" the image of the group. Their first solid hit was "Up, Up and Away" and, sure enough, their career followed suit, skyrocketing with #1 hits like "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In." Marilyn fronted most of their bestsellers ("One Less Bell to Answer," "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Love, Lines, Angles & Rhymes."

This musical variety was put together in 1971 at the height of their popularity, and I must say I was looking forward to renting it simply to savor my nostalgic taste buds. I was roundly and soundly disappointed. Bland, haphazardly put together and ill-conceived from the get-go, instead of focusing on their unique vocal talents, they instead go for silly, sugary, poorly choreographed concept pieces and overly contrived "vanilla" songs that are not even associated with them.

The group is best known for their distinctive harmonies and blends. What they emphatically show here is that they are not even close to being dancers or entertainers, and that they are not particularly comfortable and animated in front of a camera lens. This show does not do them justice AT ALL!

Sorry to hear that Ron Townson, the hefty tenor of the group, recently died of kidney failure. Marilyn and Billy (husband and wife in real life) left the group many years ago in pursuit of solo/duo careers, while Florence and LaMonte headline a new group of Fifth Dimension with three replacements. I saw them back in 1991 when the original five reunited briefly at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

For sturdy fans like myself, I recommend excerpts of their appearances on the old Ed Sullivan Show as testament to their greatness. This show is worthless as entertainment and spotlights them in a truly unflattering fashion.
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