Saturday, 28 November 2009

Top Five (Issue 13): 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album #1

♫ And finally we end this week’s newsletter with a top five honouring the 40th anniversary of the White Album on Saturday. Now, considering this album has more than double the amount of tracks of any other 1960s Beatles release, its no surprise that many tracks have been unfairly forgotten while their more famous cousins (Back in the USSR, Blackbird, Revolution, While MY Guitair Gently Weeps, etc) get to parade through the nation’s consciousness in time-honoured Beatle fashion. So here are five under-rated White Album classics, discussed in greater detail than most books devote space to (for more, see review no 25): 5) Revolution Number 9: According to an old article in the much-missed Beatles Book, ♫ And finally we end this week’s newsletter with a top five honouring the 40th anniversary of the White Album on Saturday. Now, considering this album has more than double the amount of tracks of any other 1960s Beatles release, its no surprise that many tracks have been unfairly forgotten while their more famous cousins (Back in the USSR, Blackbird, Revolution, While MY Guitair Gently Weeps, etc) get to parade through the nation’s consciousness in time-honoured Beatle fashion. So here are five under-rated White Album classics, discussed in greater detail than most books devote space to (for more, see review no 25): 5) Revolution Number 9: According to an old article in the much-missed Beatles Book, this is the most widely owned avant garde track in history, the song that introduced tape loops and vari-speeded sound effects to more music lovers around the world than Stockhausen ever dreamed of doing. According to another Beatles Book article, it’s the most skipped Beatles track in their whole catalogue. You can divide Beatles fans pretty neatly in half as to whether they think this seven-minute marvel is a masterpiece or a master-con - whether it’s the most forward-thinking spot-on description of real life that John Lennon ever made or proof of how ego-mad even the fab four got when giving full reign to their imaginations. There has been masses of speculation as to what this song is about, the favourite of the moment being that, as Lennon himself sequenced the song between his childlike ‘Cry Baby Cry’ and childish ‘Goodnight’, it represents some sort of speculation on childhood, with the many criss-crossing fragments representing the babble that babies hear before they are old enough to distinguish and understand language. What we do know is that the ‘number 9’ of the title is no throwaway title and its repeated mantra throughout the song - extracted from an old examination tape raided from the Abbey Road archives - is no loss of imagination either. The number 9 was always important to Lennon who was big into numerology in this period (as are many AAA artists incidentally – cat Stevens did a whole concept album of the stuff) and firmly believed in the importance of the number, being the ‘highest’ point you could reach before you began repeating yourself and using the same numbers over again. Whichever way you look at it, the fact that I can find so much to write about this track – and can’t think of anything interesting to write about, say, ‘What’s The new Mary Jane’, an originally unreleased avant garde Beatles song recorded near the same time – says oodles about this song’s possible depth to me and its bravery in placing unrelated pieces together is impressive. Eldorado. Take this brother, may it serve you well. 4) Cry Baby Cry: And here is that song’s predecessor. Inspired by an advert (what for, nobody’s quite sure) that ran something along the lines of ‘Cry Baby Cry, Make Your Mother Buy’, this song started in Lennon’s head as a straight lampoon of commercialism before becoming a lot more surreal. The song is sung surprisingly straight by a weary-sounding Lennon, even though its nonsense lyrics and jingle-like tune could have seen it performed as a pastiche a la ‘Bungalow Bill’ or ‘Glass Onion’, which suggests it meant something more to its creator than these family fun tunes. Nearly every reviewer of the White Album has called this childish song ‘creepy’, which is odd given that the characters in the song do little more than count their money and put on plays ‘for a lark’. What this song implies, and unusually for Lennon never states out-loud, is either that life is all downhill from the childhood present in the song (a regular theme for Lennon, especially the hints here that absurdity in childhood is funny, but absurdity continued through to adulthood is frightening because you are afraid of having nothing of any reliable value to hold on to, something you accept as a child when all the world seems peculiar) or - via the primal therapy that’s about to take over Lennon’s creative life in a year or two- that the baby’s cries are mirrored by the other character’s wasted lives in the song, as if none of us ever stop physically crying throughout our live, we just vcent our feelings with words instead of mournful cries. A true one-off in the Beatles’ canon, this relatively obscure song truly has more layers than a Glass Onion. 3) Mother Nature’s Son: Nowadays when we think of Paul McCartney, we quite often think of Macca the country lad, enjoying life on his Mull of Kintyre farm with Linda, some horses and a ram or two. But back in 1968 Paul had lived all of his life in big smoky cities – indeed, he was the only Beatle to continue living in London with Jane Asher right through to the dying embers of the fab four’s career, despite the others moving out to the suburbs of Surrey as early as 1964. While Macca had always had an interest in animals from childhood and housed an assortment of pets throughout most of his Beatles career, the start of Paul as a simple nature-loving character rather than a town-loving industrialist largely began here on this unfairly forgotten ballad. Like many White Album tracks, this song began life during the Beatles’ stay with the Maharishi in India and was directly inspired by one of the guru’s lectures, one about how mankind is only one part of the great cycle of nature and shouldn’t get ideas above his station. Like many of Paul’s simple songs from this period, its subject is about dropping the ego and becoming humble, seeing if there is something ‘more’ to life than the narrator’s senses tell him, but acknowledging that spiritual presence in every small detail he sees. However, Paul sounds content here – much more so than on the song’s closest cousins; the delightfully scatter-brained Two Of Us or the half-joyful half-pained Heart Of The Country, sure at last that he’s found his place in the world as he sits, for the benefit of others, ‘singing songs’. A beautiful reflective two-minute sojourn on the White Album’s otherwise uncharacteristically aggressive side three, this is Paul putting the LP’s other songs in perspective, with that typical Beatlesy mix of the deep and the accessible. 2) Happiness Is A Warm Gun: It was recorded in a broom cupboard. The four most famous musicians on the planet and they record the best group performance of the White Album – or indeed of any of their post-Revolver LPs – in a cubby hole that used to be used for hanging coats. There’s a famous Beatles line that Lennon and McCartney used to work ‘eyeball to eyeball’ when writing their early songs, before they got further and further estranged from each other in more ways than the geographical – but, more to the point, the Beatles used to record eyeball-to-eyeball too, all huddled round the same microphones and all playing at the same time, right up until about Rubber Soul. This rare return to the Beatles’ early recording days really brings out the best in each Beatle – the complicated jumps of time signatures are handled with ease by al four and this peculiar Lennon collage comes out sounding much more than the sum of its parts. In order of section we get a newly-in-love Lennon singing a paen to Yoko (who has never been summed up better than on the opening line ‘She’s not a girl who misses much’) before moving on to surrealist gibberish (‘She’s well acquainted with the touch of a hand, like a lizard on a window-pane’ indeed), onto a typical Lennon moan circa 1968 (‘I need a fix ‘cause I’m going down…’), a rockier take on Yoko’s character and the way she helped Lennon bring out the peaceful rather than warlike tendencies in his character (‘Mother superior jumped (ie beat) the gun’) before ending with a sarcastic hymn to the gun culture mob, stolen from a magazine belonging to George Martin. It’s a great shame that Lennon’s about to embrace simplicity pretty much for good after this track because - even more than Lennon’s other epics – this song is working on several levels at once. Johnny Rhythm is in love and – if you take the gun imagery as a euphemism – in a lustful mood, plus he’s comparing his romantic (and not so romantic) feelings with his need for drugs and the highs both give him, plus he’s preparing a stinging attack on war and military minds which is about to come into its own with Give Peace A Chance in two year’s time. In other words, this is Lennon’s poetic, romantic side at full odds with his baser, human instincts; whether having a warm gun really is satisfying to his ‘animal’ spirit– or whether instead he would feel more fulfilled thinking intellectually about peace and poetry. In other words, happiness isn’t just about having a warm gun – it’s about having a warm heart too. 1) Long Long Long: Nobody seems to know about this song. Even to George Harrison fans, this is the song that everyone who doesn’t know the White Album left, right, upside down and right-way up always goes ‘I don’t remember that song – how does it go again?!’ Yet study it closely and this most understated of Beatle tracks is about the most mind-bogglingly thought-provoking that any of the four ever wrote. Like many of George’s songs of this period, it’s about death – or rather, it’s about the kernel of each person’s life that cannot be extinguished and is merely re-created in some separate form as part of a greater whole. Unlike most disgruntled philosophers, chomping at the bit over the 22,000 days most of us are given to fulfil our lives, George thinks the human soul spends a long long long time on earth and he’s impatient to re-connect with his creator and to get all of this money-making malarkey over with. The song only really bursts forth on the middle eight, but oh what a middle eight it is – ‘So many years I was searching, so many tears I was wasting’. All that fuss about the ‘material world’, says George, ‘and none of it mattered one iota in the end’. And does our spiritual narrator find peace at the end of the song? Well no, surprisingly. Thanks to a typically-perfect Beatles accident (a wine bottle on McCartney’s organ that accidentally vibrated when he hit the song’s closing note) the song turns into Armageddon, as this most beautiful and expressive of pieces descends into noise, with all of the narrator’s efforts and struggles throughout his life turning into nothingness as the song staggers to a lopsided end. Breath-taking in the extreme, this overlooked song rewards close observers greatly and stands as one of the most thrilling and powerful moments on any Beatles album. And, boy, is that saying something. Well that’s all for another issue – sorry this one’s been so long long long. See you all next week for some more news, views and – especially – music.

Friday, 27 November 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 49 (Intro)

November 27:

Hello again dear AAA reader and welcome to another week of news, views and music. While you’re busy pulling up a chair and squinting at your computer screen, we’ll get on with the business of telling you what we’ve been up to this week. Well, we put together a rather fetching promo for the website to be shown on Youtube – but our computer crashed; we tried to put together another list of rare albums for our Amazon readers – but our computer crashed; we tried to hunt for another web host to put our website on – but our computer crashed; we then gave up on the whole thing and decided to have fun cooking virtual pizzas on facebook – but our computer crashed; in the end we said ‘the heck with it’ and read a biography of John Lennon instead. But we do still have our Youtube clip ready to play and will let you know when its uploaded so you can all go and see us and support the site. Till then, it’s on with the news section... 


Belle and Sebastian News: According to the B and S fansite, the band have been busy gathering material for their first album in what will be four years and are due to go back into the recording studio in the new year. We were mentioning just a few issues ago how quiet B and S suddenly were and after the various band members had scattered off to record solo albums and play with Snow Patrol it seemed that B and S were all over, so that’s very welcome new indeed. More news if and when we hear it!

  Johnny Cash/Neil Young News: We don’t always mention what Johnny Cash’s estate has been up to seeing as he’s not a fully fledged AAA member (although his catalogue seems to be busier than ever since Johnny’s sad death in 2004), but UK viewers keep your eyes peeled for a second Johnny Cash night on BBC4 this week! Documentaries this time around include the first TV showing of the previously DVD-only ‘Folsom Prison Album’ documentary, looking at the making of Johnny’s most influential album of 1968. There will also be an hour compilation of highlights from the sadly short-lived Johnny Cash Show that ran from 1968-70 which will definitely feature Neil Young singing ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’ according to all the usual TV guides and may also feature The Monkees singing ‘Nine Times Blue’ from 1969 as well (although that might just be wishful thinking on our part!)  

Oasis News: Further confirmation that Oasis really have split for good this time is the news that Liam Gallagher is busy recording a solo LP for release sometime in the new year. Liam is using the rest of Oasis as his backing band but understandably is not featuring brother Noel – further blurring the lines as to why the band have really split (according to Noel they were all fed up of Liam’s being late and drunk for gigs and showing disinterest in recording). More news if and when.

Cat Stevens News: And in a good fortnight for television, Yusuf Islam – formerly known as Cat Stevens – will be appearing in an episode of channel 4’s ‘Live At Abbey Road’ series in the early hours of Saturday night> Sunday Morning (November 28th/29th).

Neil Young News: Wow. I mean wow. Neil Young’s ridiculously-expensive-on-DVD-so-amazingly-I-don’t-own-it acoustic concert film ‘Heart Of Gold’ is to receive its terrestrial premiere on Channel 4 on the Afternoon of Saturday, December 5th. Next you’ll be telling me Neil’s 1972 film ‘Journey Through The Past’ will be getting its television premiere. No? Didn’t think so somehow, but ‘Heart Of Gold’ is a nice treat all the same, reuniting Neil with much of the Nashville musicians and audience he made with his best-selling album ‘Harvest’. 


ANNIVERSARIES: Many happy returns of the dates section to the following AAA luminaries (November 27th-December 3rd): Gilbert O’Sullivan who turns 63 on December 1st and Chris Hillman (bassist with The Byrds 1965-68 and guitarist with Manassas 1972-74) who turns 67 on December 4th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles release the double EP set ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, a full month before the TV special of the same name is given a screening on Boxing Day (November 27th 1967); The Rolling Stones record their infamous live LP ‘Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!’ during a four-day stay at Madison Square Garden (November 27th-30th 1969); John Lennon gives his last ever live show – singing three songs as special guest at an Elton John show in Madison Square Garden. It’s also the night he gets back together with Yoko after their ‘lost weekend’ (November 28th 1974); On the same day in 1968 Lennon causes controversy with the release of the ‘Two Virgins’ record and its full frontal cover and Lennon becomes the first Beatle to be fined for drugs possession (November 29th 1968); Paul McCartney doesn’t have much of a better time on November 30th, when Wings’ second ever single becomes their second to be banned from airplay for ‘suggestive lyrics’ (‘Hi! Hi! Hi!’, released in 1972); Lennon then releases ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ in 1971 – contrary to popular opinion, it’s a huge flop at first – mainly because its released too late in the day for Christmas airplay; The Monkees break the American record for most #1 LPs in a single year when 4th release ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD’ reaches the top spot on December 2nd 1967 (its no 18 on our list!); The original Moody Blues sign off with the release of their last ‘proper’ album ‘Seventh Sojourn’ (its album no 53 on our list!); The Who spend their one and only night (so far!) in prison as a group – after causing $6000 of damage to a hotel room in Montreal (Its news to John Entwistle, who went to bed early and got woken up by a policeman in his bedroom!) (December 2nd 1973); Pigs might fly – well they do for Pink Floyd anyway when a 40ft inflatable porkie being photographed above Battersea Power Station for the album cover ‘Animals’ gets loose and causes havoc with air traffic before being finally shot down (irony of ironies the final cover is photo-shopped and doesn’t feature the errant pig at all!) (December 3rd 1976) and finally, 11 people die during a crush to gain entry to a Who concert on December 3rd 1979 – the band don’t spell it out as such but this pretty much ends the band’s time as a live act (December 3rd 1979);         

News, Views and Music Issue 49 (Top Five): Youtube Videos

 And so to our farewell finale: the top five AAA Youtube clips not currently available in any other form. Now there were lots of competitors for this spot as I’m sure you can imagine (a special mention for the George Harrison-sung demo of Ringo’s song ‘It Don’t Come Easy’, an amazing vintage clip of the early 1964 vintage Hollies in the Willie Rushton film ‘It’s All Over Town’, an amazing collection of Dave Davies demos from the period of his ‘lost album’ 1968-69,a rare Manassas concert from 1972 that came out on DVD for about a week before being deleted, Johnny Cash duetting with Miss Piggy on ‘Jackson’ (technically not available till series 5 of The Muppets comes out – they’re up to series 3 at the moment!),  a good 50 Neil Young songs that are still unreleased even with the mammoth ‘Archives’ box set that came out this year and the rare 8-track cartridge version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Pigs On The Wing’ which features Snowy White bridging the gap between the two versions of the song (it makes it sound one hell of a lot better, actually!) But here on this list are the most unexpected treats – the ones I never thought I’d see in a million years...

5) The Hollies “Very Last Day” (Live In Sweden 1966). Next time some idiot of a music journalist writes that the Hollies were an OK band in the studio but couldn’t play live for toffee I’m marching right round to their house/office/mansion/cardboard box and showing them this magical clip of the band during one of their Scandinavian tours in 1966, their last full year of touring with the Graham Nash line-up. Fans have always rated ‘Very Last Day’ (originally recorded for the 1965 album ‘The Hollies’) very highly, which is suprising given how un-Hollies it sounds. Its nothing short of a Christian Armageddon protest song, telling everyone to mend their days because everybody’s going to be judged when the world ends. This live version is a killer in a very different sense of the word – Clarke and Nash sour to heaven with their harmonies whilst Bobby Elliott’s most out of control drumming yet truly does sound the last stirrings hell. Magic.

4) Paul McCartney and Wings “There’s A Morse Moose Coming Up” AKA “Coming Up (Remix)”. In which one bootlegger with a minute budget does better than the whole of the weird Apple/Beatles ‘Love’ remix album in one stroke! Two of Paul’s better solo songs – Morse Moose from ‘London Town’ and ‘Coming Up’ from ‘McCartney II’ are seamlessly woven together in a magical medley which takes the pounding beat of the former and the eccentric lyrics of the latter and turns it into a monster of a song. I’ve always adored both songs (each of them gets plugged shamelessly on this website as it is) so hearing the two together is fantastic. Look out too for the accompanying video: the already pretty spiffing promo for ‘Coming Up’ (featuring Paul in a variety of musical guises and characters playing in the same band) looks even better thanks to some fancy editing and some fun with the speed with which its played back. And I agree with John Lennon’s introduction (taken from one of his last interviews in 1980 – legend has it its ‘Coming Up’ that persuaded John to get back to recording again because his partner had ‘finally done something good!’) – I prefer the ‘freaky’ version too! The sort of thing you’ll never see anywhere else.

3) Grateful Dead “Mountains Of The Moon/St Stephen/Turn On Your Lovelight” (Live on Playboy After Dark 1969).This show is legendary in Dead circles – stuffy Playboy millionaire High Hefner playing host to one of the most ‘with it’ 60s bands of them all – talk about when worlds collide! Actually when you see the clip both sides are having fun with each other, with Jerry Garcia replying that they’d love to perform their latest single ‘absolutely...not’. Rumour has it all that awkward laughing came about because the Dead road crew spiked the TV crew and the extras with acid backstage...Even without the equal parts stilted, equal parts hilarious dialogue however, this clip is well worth watching for the three performances – perhaps the three best tracks the Dead were performing in 1969. ‘Mountains’ was hardly ever given a live reading and this fairly fast but still angelic version is well up there with the studio version; ‘St Stephen’ sounds magical in any version and is the perfect song to perform at a multi-generational show like this (see ‘news and views 20’ for my take on the song’s meaning) and ‘Turn On Your Lovelight’ sounds cracking...right up to the point two minutes in when the credits roll and the show ends. Ah well, two amazing pieces is still pretty good going.

2) The Kinks “A Soap Opera” (A Musical Play, 1974). Screened once and left to gather dust and cobwebs for 35 years, this is proof yet again of how important YouTube can be, reminding record companies that there is an interest in obscure shows that might never be seen again. Despite being slated at the time, ‘A Soap Opera’ stands up now as one of the very best of Ray Davies’ ‘concept’ ideas (with a ‘star’ infiltrating the home of a ‘nobody’ to get ideas for his songs before the boundaries blur and the star finds himself a nobody instead) and the TV show is heads and shoulders better than the record, trimming the album’s lesser moments and adding more story, humour and pathos to the work. Sure the rest of the band look deeply uncomfortable and the whole thing seems woefully under-rehearsed (Ray forgets his lines in a couple of places and has to cover by improvising lyrics – which to be fair sound better than the real thing!) – but watch this show in order (the full 40 mins are on YouTube) and its truly moving, especially when Ray slinks off the stage after performing his most unfairly forgotten song ‘A Face In the Crowd’ and takes a seat in the audience to cheer along to brother Dave’s performance of ‘You Can’t Stop The Music’. Well worth seeing for anybody even slightly Kinky.

1) Pink Floyd “Moonlandings” (1969). I thought these tapes had been wiped long ago – a section of the BBC’s coverage of the July 1969 moon landings, complete with ‘mood music’ from a then-forgotten group called Pink Floyd, caught halfway between their Syd Barrett hey-day and their resurrection with ‘Dark Side Of the Moon’. The track, dubbed ‘moon landings’, sounds completely unlike anything the band ever did again, led by Rick Wright’s hazy organ and some other-wordly licks from david Gilmour’s guitar, but is still recognisably Floydy. You even get the picture/sound of astronauts seemingly dancing to the song in the moon’s light gravity. Hmm, talk about the first band in space! And yes, OK, I do believe the moon landings were faked by the American Government and very badly too - thankfully the BBC rescued the day for posterity by getting the music right.

Well, that’s all for another week of archive treasure-hunting! If any of you are having problems searching for these clips just have a look for me at ‘alansalbumarchives’ – they are all saved in my ‘favourites’ list along with lots of other goodies (please send in more if you think I’ve missed anything as well...) Right, that’s it for now – until next week, keep rocking!   

The Byrds "(5D) Fifth Dimension" (1966) (News, Views and Music 49, Revised 2014)

You can buy 'All The Things - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Byrds' by clicking here!

The Byrds “5th Dimension” (1966)

5D (5th Dimension)/Wild Mountain Thyme/Mr Spaceman/I See You/What’s Happening?!?!?/I Come And Stand At Every Door/Eight Miles High/Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go?)Captain Soul//John Riley/2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)
The Byrds weren’t exactly flying at high altitude by the time 1966 rolled around. Never the most stable of bands, as early as this third LP and second year they’d lost their lead singer-songwriter Gene Clark and like many pre-psychedelic bands in 1966 were split between embracing all the new exciting possibilities that laid over the horizon or to make music that their grannies would really enjoy. This sort of confusion occurs many times on Byrds LPs – they even name their 7th album ‘Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde’ in reference to this split personality – but this third record is the first time a Byrds LP is so eccentric that you truly don’t have a clue what’s coming next the first time you play it. Without Gene Clark there to take the lion’s share of the writing credits, the Byrds truly don’t know what direction to fly off in next – so what we get are a few traditional folk songs that if anything sound slowed down rather than jazzed up, a blues instrumental, some deeply serious protest songs, some wild and wacky protest songs, a truly adventurous psychedelic single in ‘8 Miles High’ and its often-overlooked successor ‘I See You’ and, umm, Roger McGuinn’s hoover doubling as a Lear Jet. Even given that it was 1966, this album is weird.

But as ever on this website, being ‘weird’ doesn’t being ‘bad’. As a general rule it’s the bland and empty albums (and artists) that tend to get short shrift from us (anybody mention The Spice Girls?!) – albums this weird and eccentric are well worth a place in our discography, even if this album’s just a little too lop-sided to make it into the 'AAA top albums' list proper. So here’s the story of The Byrds’ nest-egg, the album that more than any other sets the template for the group in the years to come and each character’s later solo records to boot – McGuinn’s quick-switching between heavy world philosophy and light as a cloud comedy; David Crosby’s first stirrings of outrage at the corruption in the world around him and the miserable use humans have made of all the things they’ve been granted in life; Chris Hillman adds a touch of soul alongside his more usual touches of country and bluegrass; and drummer Michael Clarke just plays the drums.

But no, that’s being unfair – its as a band playing together that The Byrds really grow on this record and Michael Clarke’s contribution to that is the greatest of all. Let’s not forget, The Byrds had never actually played as a five-piece in the studio until the session after ‘Mr Tambourine Man (which in terms of instruments just features McGuinn alongside a set of session musicians) in 1965 and the band were understandably a little rusty on the first two albums. But by the time of 5D The Byrds are suddenly a powerhouse of noise, easily the equal of their more rocky counterparts in 1966, but still with enough subtlety to handle the ballads and switches of tempo convincingly. Michael Clarke, the Byrd who was famously chosen for his perfect blonde haircut rather than his musicianship skills and learnt to play the drums on cardboard boxes, is no longer an embarrassment to the band’s sound but one of the best drummers around. His switches of style are amazing on this album – he so should have been a 'jazz' not a rock or pop or even folk-rock drummer - equally at home with the improvisational licks of ‘8 Miles High’, the all-out rock of ‘I See You’ the truly tricky slowed-down beat of ‘I Come And Stand At Every Door’ and the pop of ‘Mr Spaceman’. It's when he's being made to play the same licks several times in a row his playing suffers. So huge is this leap that I assumed for years the Byrds had brought in a session drummer for this and the next two albums but no: every drum note and cymbal wash is indeed played by Michael Clarke. And even if the other Byrds did allegedly spend hours telling him what to play I don’t care – he still had to play it. Possibly the biggest leap in any AAA musician’s abilities come in this record, which remains Michael Clarke’s greatest (half) hour.

Not that the other Byrds are far behind him. Freed, temporarily, of playing along to both Gene Clark’s and Bob Dylan's lyrical songs (the band are really making the most of this opportunity to create a 'new' sound well away from what they were known for - it's a temporary solution, though, with Dylan very much back in place for the nect LP), the other three Byrds are given much more scope to put their instrumental skills to use. And, barring McGuinn’s even briefer attempt at trying to write lyrical passages like his colleague Gene, the other songs on this album are all rhythmically driven rather than lyrically driven (if the Byrds really were formed to be the halfway point between Dylan and the Beatles then this is the point where the fab four influence really takes over and folk becomes just another wash of colour rather than a driving force). McGuinn’s guitar playing really leaps forward on this album, especially the first recording (!) ‘8 Miles High’, adding psychedelic fringes to what had previously been a very clear and folky sound. David Crosby, whose roots lay more in jazz and Indian music than pop and rock in this period, finally manages to weld his four loves together during this period, with both lead Byrds turned on by the freedom this offers (McGuinn sounds like nothing less than Ravi Shankar playing the guitar in this period, although its Crosby’s rhythm playing on ‘8 Miles High’ that’s probably as close to jazz as we’re going to get in a rock and pop format). Chris Hillman doesn’t get much to do yet – surprisingly, given that his more country style and song-writing is all over follow-up LP ‘Younger Than Yesterday’ – but his bass playing, too, is showing a definite Beatles influence in this period, playing the less obvious bass chords throughout each song. For one of only two albums this the classic line-up of The Byrds actually playing as a band, each bringing their own styles to the table and creating something new out of their combined efforts. 5D is nothing like as cohesive and easy to listen to as ‘Younger Than Yesterday’, but it is the point at which the Byrds truly do add another dimension to their playing and writing, breaking through with a pioneering sound that still sounds unique to this short span of albums.

It's a real shame, though, that Gene isn't here. The most sensitive Byrd, the one who strove for new experiences and turned suffering into art would have been a real asset on an album that's all about exploring both yourself and the world around you. Gene had simply burnt himself out, taken too much criticism to heart (his colleagues, jealous of the extra money he roped in from songwriting royalties didn't help), lost his identity in a sea of screaming girls and clashing wgos and couldn't cope with the  stressful routines of being a rock star (being famous is usually fairly glamorous nowadays, with albums every few years in a relatively stable market where your fans remember you and come back again for more after a mutual rest - in the 1960s fame was a stepladder that had to be continually climbed with the goalposts forever moving further away). Things came to a head when Gene, like Brian Wilson before him, found himself locked on yet another aeroplane pointing in a direction that led anywhere but home, the four small claustrophobic walls a symbolic metaphor of the fame he felt was trapping him from all sides. Crosby will go on to smirk at the irony of a Byrds being scared of 'flying' in the unreleased song 'Psychodrama City' taped at these sessions ('I don't know why he got on at all if he really didn't want to fly!' he cackles, about both the physical flight and Clark's pursuit of fame with the band). But like Brian the year before, poor Gene didn't break down because of that flight but because of the years of constant touring, competing, writing, recording, promoting, worrying, arguing and nagging doubts of the past few years; at least Brian had his brothers to turn to - in The Byrds it was every man for himself and as the band's biggest star in the early days (in a songwriting sense at least) Gene felt the loneliness at the top more than most. From here-on in his is a sad tale of wanting and needing fame and recognition, the demons of guilt and fear that such fame and recognition awakened and unhappy slumps back into obscurity, punctuated by increasing drug and alcohol addictions. Gene was a born rock star, but with the constitution of a poet that was going to see him eaten up in any band - unlucky for him he became a Byrd, a band who by rights should have been named 'The Piranhas'.

'5D' is generally seen as the album where the other Byrds step out from under Gene's shadow. By and large that's true, but for now his shadow is just too big to match. Gene still had time to leave the mother of all leaving presents: the lyrics for 'Eight Miles High' and an excellent harmony vocal on flip-side 'Why?' (a Crosby song senselessly left off this album and re-recorded to lesser effect for 'Younger Than Yesterday'). Both songs rather set the tone for the biggest album theme of unlimited horizons and a new sense of understanding of the world. Both Crosby and McGuinn - the two chief writers on this album though all four remianing Byrds receive a credit for instrumental 'Captain Soul' - found themselves at an unusually harmonious point of view, albeit from two very different resources. Crosby has just discovered drugs, his mistress muse and ultimately biggest monster that will gain gradually more and more control over his life until the point in the mid-1980s when a judge locks him away in a state prison as one last desperate attempt to save his life. For now, though, drugs have done wonders for Crosby's pscyhe: they've expanded his point of view to such a point that he truly discovers his 'voice'. The political 'What's Happening?!?!?' is far from the best song he'll ever write, but it's a crucial breakthrough for him as a composer, daring to ask why a mad world is quite as mad as it is. His lyrics for the 'Eight Miles High' soundalike 'I See You' also point to new realisations, with a whole host of seemingly unlinked metaphors spinning into his mind each time he sees a 'girl'.
McGuinn, meanwhile, is spending his last album as plain 'Jim' McGuinn - he's become increasingly fascinated with the Subud religion (someone influential in the cult told McGuinn he was unlucky because he had  the 'wrong' number of syllables in his name - asked to pick a name with two syllables he chose 'Roger'; this led to a joke/hype/conspiracy theory on the lines of the 'Paul is Dead' theory that he'd been 'replaced'. When asked once by a hapless reporter what had happened to his 'twin brother Jim' McGuinn joked that he'd 'gone to Rio' - the story behind the rather peculiar title for his 1990 'comeback' album!) Many people assumed drugs was the cause behind Roger's change of both name and personality, but no - McGuinn kept as far away as any rock star in the 1960s could (natural cautious, perhaps he'd already seen how the head-first Crosby had been affected by them). Religion and books (especially science ones) and the need to 'fill the gap' left behind by Gene Clark all conspired to create a McGuinn who was far more on the ball and sure of himself than on the band's first two albums (he jokingly calls the Byrds' music 'philoso-rock' during the period interview hidden away on the CD re-issue). The title track, a debate about the many different dimensions of length, height, space, width and time that can be experienced by people was perfect for the times and deserved to be one of the band's bigger hits. 'Mr Spaceman', meanwhile, is a trippy comedy song about extra-terrestrials - the first appearance of a favourite topic that's going to run his songs for years, through 'CTA-102' and into 'Space Odyssey' on the next two Byrds albums. His choice of cover song, the world war two protest song 'I Come and Stand At Every Door' is also a significant choice - though Crosby's later rants against the Vietnam war and contemporary politics embarrassed him (Roger thought 'rock' stars should be separate to such things), McGuinn had a passion for using songs from the past as warnings to us in the present about our future - a theme that runs through all his 'Folk Den' revival projects in the 21st century and right back to 'We'll Meet Again' and to some extent 'Oh Susannah' from the first two albums. This is his best choice yet, the seven-year-old ghost of a victim of Hiroshima doomed never to know what it's like to grow old and looking down heartbroken at a world that should have been hers to grow up in (McGuinn is at his best on this song, the emotion of the song breaking even his famously ice-cold persona).

Unfortunately, letting each style take over one at a time means that this is a truly uneven record at times. The rest of the album songs are at best filler, at worst desperation: while not every track on 'Mr Tambourine Man' or 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' was a knockout, you could at least hear that the band were trying something that could have worked or nearly worked (yep, even 'Oh Susannah!') '5D' is much more of a rollercoaster ride though: alongside 'Eight Miles High' 'I See You' '5D' 'I Come and Stand' and 'What's Happening' are two fairly dreary traditional folk songs (seemingly recorded because the band feel they havcen't done much folk on this album), even drearier Stax soul pastiche 'Captain Soul' and the sound of McGuinn's hoover doubling as a lear jet while the band use some random sound effects and sing 'go round the lear jet, baby' over and over. Credited to McGuinn, this song makes you feel that if he wasn't taking drugs then perhaps he should have been - even by Byrds standards (who always try and end their albums on an unusual or at least eccentric song) '2-4-2 Foxtrot' is a novelty unbecoming of their great name. Personally I quite like 'Hey Joe', the cover that everyone wqho owns this record seems to despise, but even though Hendrix re-wrote the rule box on revisiting folk tunes with this very song, Crosby's earlier versions is fun, funky and got there first (Hendrix learnt the song from the San Franciscan band The Leaves - they learnt it from Crosby, who was their early champion!)

The oddest thing about '5D' is that while the material is (by and large) in place (give or take the sound of a vacuum cleaner and a folk song or two), this just doesn't 'sound' like an album from 1966. Released a mere month before The Beatles' 'Revolver', the two records couldn't be more different: there's no unusual sounds on display here (except that dang hoover!), no sitars (odd given that Crosby and McGuinn had been partly responsible for encouraging George Harrison's interest in it, famously teaching him how to play on a beaten up old instriment in a bath-tub on a rare get together in a hotel room - the only place quiet enough away from reporters!), no tape-loops, no sound effects and with the exception of the deeply traditional sounding 'Wild Mountain Thyme' and 'John Riley' no strings or brass. Everything on the album could be replicated in concert, even though the Byrds weren't doing much touring at all that year (they won't do thatmuch touring again until McGuinn reforms the band in late 1968). In fact take 'Eight Miles High' and copycat 'I See You' plus the title track and 'Every Door' away and '5D' isn't even a complex album - Gene Clark's lyrics alone made those two albums seem deeper than '5D', which at times seems overtly childish ('Mr Spaceman' is a comedy song; 'What's Happening?!?' shares a simplistic world view, '2-4-2 Foxtrot' is a novelty and 'Captain Soul' the kind of things children learn as scales when practising an instrument).

Ultimately '5D' is a strange experience. The 'difficult third record' for The Byrds, it's not as satisfying as either of the folk-rock first two or as pioneering and consistent as albums four and five. If the Byrds’ first two albums were the TV equivalent of ‘newsnight’ or ‘panorama’ (meaning well but a bit fusty and old-fashioned and a bit too earnest in getting messages across), this album is a TV sketch-show, switching gears so suddenly it makes us gasp (although like even the worst sketch shows, if you don’t like one particular style another will be along in a minute). However when this album is good it's exceptional, showing off every one of the band's strengths post-Clark: Indian-influences, classy harmonies, quirky lyrics and unsettling ideas and at times reaches unbelievable peaks. Like the ‘magic carpet’ the band appear to be sitting on, the journey is a curious mix of the old-fashioned (this is a rug that looks like an antique after all), the then-modern (the band are eating fast-food – or at least they are on the back cover) and the mystical (just check out David Crosby’s new fringe jacket – he’ll be wearing those non-stop for the next 10 years!) Crossing many borders, melting several boundaries, 5D is one hell of a ‘trip’ but there's a few crash landings during take-off too. That's what happens when you take your rides from a band as wild and exciting as The Byrds who can show you some of the most amazing sights you'll ever see.

The Songs:
First up is the title track [46] '5D (Fifth Dimension). I must confess I never used to be that keen on this song, the first track on the first Byrds album I ever owned, but over time its as good an introduction as I could hope to have, poised between the band’s folkie past and their psychedelic future. It’s completely unlike anything Roger McGuinn will ever write again: its poetic imagery and carefully constructed lengthy phrases sound more like a Bob Dylan or Gene Clark song (or the best fit of all, the book of the Ecclesiastes set to music that was ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’) and has the kind of tune that sounds as if its been around for generations. But lyrically it all gets a bit more confusing: the talk of discovering a ‘new dimension’ to life is common speak amongst 60s drug takers but its part of a large parcel of mid-1966 songs that don’t actually come out and say it quite yet (The Beatles’ ‘Dr Robert’ and ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ are two more examples). Traditionally when bands do this kind of thing they couch the music with the most exhilarating, breathtaking and groundbreaking music possible – but not here; The Byrds are instead treating this new discovery as one on a par with their gospel/traditional music, going back to their roots in order to express what a change this stepping stone in their lives represents. The best juxtaposition on this track, though, must surely be the line about ‘I saw the great blunders my teacher had made, sicnetific delirium madness’ which occurs at the most traditional part of the whole track, just as the barbershop vocals kick in – borrowing from bygone generations at the same time Mcguinn’s narrator promises the same won’t happen to him and his kind! McGuinn’s vocal is the best thing about this track, with just the right sense of awe and curiosity (indeed, it might be his best vocal of all on a Byrds record) and his lyrics are particularly strong on this song, making it a shame that he never wrote more of these songs, swapping its style for all-out country or rock and roll on later tracks. Yet, even though it’s a song I admire, it’s a song that’s hard to love and is ultimately uninvolving somehow – it’s very hard to ‘connect’ with this song despite its tales of new adventures, perhaps because of its backwards-looking melody and style. Never mind, the band will get it spot-on for ‘8 Miles High’. In yet another Byrds-Beach Boys crossover, that's future Smile lyricist Van Dyke Parks guesting on organ (McGuinn apparently told him to 'think of Bach'!)

[47] ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ is a lesser attempt at the folk trick that works so well later on in the record during 'John Riley', a slightly boring song that, like many of The Byrds’ worst arrangements, is slowed to a crawl. One of the more boring songs in The Byrds’ canon, this features another jaded string arrangement sitting in counterpart to McGuinn’s rather lumpy guitar work and is only truly saved by the harmonies, with Crosby’s falsetto shining out loud and clear as ever. Lyrically this traditional folk song is a rather odd piece, telling us that as long as the mountains exist there will always be a love to replace the one you’ve just lost (mountains usually signify permanence when used as metaphors for songs), although this might make sense of yet another battle going between the band’s usual instrumentation and the more folkie harmonies/strings. A curious misfire this one, seeing as its built on many of the things that traditionally work well in Byrds songs.

[48] ‘Mr Spaceman’ is a much more crafted song and travels along at a fair lick, but like many of McGuinn’s lesser songs its repetitiveness is extremely irritating and it takes five or so verses to basically tell us the same thing over and over (this song must have the biggest chorus repeats of pretty much any song that clocks in at just over 2 minutes!) At least the lyrics are funny, though (well sort of, once) with an alien beaming up McGuinn’s narrator into his spaceship and showing him around before taking off again ( Something that’s hard to grasp for modern newcomers to this song – yes the ‘spaceman’ in the title is an alien not a man in a spacesuit because most people didn’t really think of humans as being in space before 1969 and the alleged moon landing; we knew that aliens might have the potential to visit us back then, but not that we had the potential to visit them) and contain a lovely line in Mcguinn’s mournful ‘I hope they get home alright’, as if he’s just waved goodbye to his folks on a long drive home instead of a species taking over his planet from the other side of the world. Really, though, this song is too chirpy for its own good and like many of the band’s comedy songs falls flat, because the humour’s too dry for us to be sure that it really is humour we’re listening to (a similar thing happens with 1967’s ‘So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, which is the story of X Factor 30 years early – the world should have heeded the warning!)

[49]  ‘I See You’ is the next strongpoint on this album, a rare McGuinn-Crosby collaboration that shares so much DNA with ‘8 Miles High’ that its surely a long-lost twin. We get the same frenetic drumming, the same Coltrane-inspired rhythm guitar, the same completely off-the-wall Rickenbacker solo and the same fragmented and cryptic lyrics. The biggest difference is the subject matter – if 8 Miles High is about experiencing the world afresh (see below), then song is about discovering people fresh and truly seeing what they’re up to for the first time. This song is pure chaos from first note to last, all tied together with glittering Crosby harmonies, with some classic lyrics that take in honesty and lies, love and infatuation, past lives (the first appearance of this well-loved and by 1970 well-worn Crosby theme) and earth and space, all dealt with in fragmentary, image-filled lines. A terrific launching pad for a song about new experiences and finding out more about life The Byrds really go to town with this record, making it more raucous and energy-filled than anything in their back catalogue (barring, of course, the recently-recorded ‘8 Miles High’). Long dismissed as a poor man’s 8 miles of altitude, this is actually a pretty good second take on a similar subject and well worth digging out by all the many people out there who consider ‘8 Miles High’ one of the best records of the mid-60s.

[50] ‘What’s Happening?!?’ is Crosby’s big breakthrough. It’s actually his first full songwriting credit on any album (although the pre-fame Byrds CD ‘In The Beginning/Preflyte’ has one other) and it really sets the tone for just about everything Crosby’s written afterwards. A series of rhetorical questions that at first appear to be dissing some jilted lover but then end up being a rant about the faceless rich who run society without consultation with the other people in it, this is Crosby waking up to how the world works and putting into a place an anger and rage that still simmers through his work today. While the song sounds unfinished by his later standards (Crosby’s songs more or less give us comfort, as well as telling us how hard it is to change the unchangeable), another strong recording makes up for any lapses in the song, with McGuinn’s heavily echoed guitar seemingly answering Crosby’s cries after every line. By 1966 standards this song is hugely impressive – when everybody else was telling love stories of one kind or another, Crosby was already asking ‘Why?’ (a question that’s taken up with a track on the next LP) and unlike the small handful of tracks on this theme that had appeared in the past, this song doesn’t even try to offer answers, it just shrugs its head and moves on.

The tracklisting that puts that track right before [51] ‘I Come And Stand At Every Door’ is a masterstroke. An old 1940s song written in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb, this is another angry song that demands answers from the people in power and in the context of this most 60s of records seems to be the hippie generation distancing themselves from the ‘war generation’ of their parents. In many ways this Nazim Hikmet song (translated by Pete Seeger and also covered by Stephen Stills’ later girlfriend Judy Collins) is the first 1960s song, using the ghostly apparition of a murdered seven-year-old to plead that the atom bomb is never used again. Indeed, its amazing this very then-topical song hadn’t been covered by a rock and roll group before – its only 3 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis after all and the worries over the Cold War with Russia are all over this list, right up until the fall of communism in 1989. McGuinn’s subdued vocal is another of his best, undermining all sense of drama and emotion with its vicious one-note stabs at the unseen attackers. Interestingly, it’s not until the second verse that we learn the narrator is a ghost from Hiroshima (pronounced with the ‘old’ Western phonetic spelling heeeero-sheema – it was years before I realised those talking about ‘heroshimah’ were on about the same thing) and they could stand for any nation under attack till then. It’s also interesting that Hiroshima is already considered to be ‘long ago’ by 1966 (21 years on) – could it be that The Byrds were trying to make a statement here to last for centuries? The band performance is another one that’s top notch: Clarke’s general drum rumble intercut with sudden bangs on the drum kit sounds like its being played in slow motion, while the echoey Rickenbacker guitar truly does sound ghostly here. Perhaps this is the 5th dimension the Byrds are on about in the title – not the brave new world of exciting psychedelia but the old unseen phantoms that haunt mankind throughout his history until he learns to change his ways.       

Next up is [52a] ‘Eight Miles High’. Where do I start with this track? It’s so well known that everyone assumes it was a #1 (actually it was a comparative flop, especially in Britain where a radio ban for ‘drug-addled lyrics’ meant it barely went top 40) but it’s probably more important for the songs it influenced rather than for itself: I doubt we’d have had other psychedelic journeys like ‘I Can See For Miles’ and ‘Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds’ had this track not come first to break the mould. Gene Clarks’ farewell present with the set of lyrics for this song are first class: so fragmented they sound like a haiku poem but together with the pounding music they sound like a catalogue of last images seen before the coming of something either exhilarating or destructive. The band’s playing is as tight as can be, with Hillman’s bouncy bass rooting the song magnificently, before Crosby’s scratchy and angry rhythm guitar chips away at the song and McGuinn’s Rickenbacker soars on top. You can hear a first take of this song on the current CD release and the difference between the two is like night and day (the first is even creepier, mainly thanks to a slower tempo and an even more out of control guitar part), showing just how important this song was to the band that they re-recorded it again later to get it right. A word about the lyrics: every fan knows it was really about The Byrds’ ill-fated trip to London (the one where they were under-rehearsed, billed as ‘America’s answer to The Beatles’ and got roundly booed at most of the shows), but the lyrics about ‘rain gary town, known for its sounds’ was about London and the line about ‘in places small faces alone’ may well be about another AAA group just starting in 1966... Marvellously cast between being in control and falling over the edge of a cliff, this is the last definitive Byrds song for some four years, mixing the past and the future sound of music like never before. And to think, just a few decades after this we get The Spice Girls as the default mode...

Most fans hate [53] ‘Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)’, seeing it as a poor relation to the Hendrix version. But what few people know is that Hendrix would never have known the song had Crosby not ‘discovered’ it (his protégé band ‘The Leaves’ covered it first, although this Byrds recording is after Hendrix). People seem to hate the fact that the band play it fast rather than slow, but that’s how the song was written – and to my ears it sounds just as good, if not better. Unfortunately, good as the arrangement is, this is obviously a first take or as good as; the band sound tentative and aren’t sure whether to really go for it or not right up to the curious way the song fizzles out at the end. Crosby’s vocal – only his second lead in the band’s released history – is nicely strong I think, even if he treats the whole thing like a game rather than life or death. The only real problem with this song is that it’s basically the forthcoming ‘Captain Soul’ all over again with some added lyrics and taken at a slightly faster trot – and guess what song came next in the track-listing?!

[54] ‘Captain Soul’ is another of this album’s pot-pourri in styles that doesn’t quite come off. Too rocky for soul, with too many psychedelic twinges, this song simply sounds like a studio jam built on a promising Hillman bass line (that’s the most soulful thing in this song, sounding rather like a Booker T riff) that features a lot of uninspired dross, really, barring the rather impressive harmonica part (played by a returning Gene Clark who was visiting the session, but sadly doesn't get a credit on the sleeve!) According to the sleeve-notes, this song was Michael Clarke’s idea, something which is surprising given that his rather clichéd drum pattern here is the most bored he sounds across the whole album! The song was originally called ’30 minute break’, by the way, and was recorded in a, umm, 30 minute break between other recordings (although my sessionography suggests they weren’t actually doing anything else that day) after the band developed the song from a jam session playing Lee Dorsey’s hit ‘Get Out Of My Life, Woman’. Not that you’d know that from the finished product which sounds very, well, cautious. What is it with bands wasting their time on soul-inspired jam sessions in this period? (The Beatles were recording their ’12 Bar Blues’ during the Rubber Soul sessions at virtually the same time this track was recorded).

[55]  ‘John Riley’ is, like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, a traditional folk tale of a sort the Byrds never really tackle again, this time two songs from the end instead of two from the beginning – in fact, it sounds more like a Pentangle track! But Mr Riley is more successful than his cousin, thanks to the battle royale going on between the band’s more traditional guitar-bass-and-drums line-up on the left speaker and McGuinn and Crosby’s etheral harmonies and a rather stilted string arrangement in the right. Hillman’s bass is terrific on this track, copying Mcguinn’s guitar in parts before taking off for his own wander up and down the octave, mimicking the mournful girlfriend ever-searching for her partner lost to the sea. The band’s harmonies are well suited to this song (especially the last verse, where Crosby plays out the drama in counterpoint to McGuinn’s more detached lead) and it’s another interesting stepping-stone from the Byrds’ folk past to their out-and-out psychedlic future.

Last up comes one of the weirdest tracks ever to grace an AAA album. In fact, so unintentionally hilarious is [56] 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jest Song) that I was tempted to put it among my favourites. In keeping with this album’s theme of travel and ‘space’, the album ends with a pilot running off a list of things to check on his machine while The Byrds repeat ‘going to ride a lear jet, baby’ over and over the song’s repetitive riff. The Byrds chant in the middle, some idiot reading flight instructions in the left speaker. Best of all, the band discovered late in the day that they would not be able to record any real sound effects of a ‘lear jet’ but McGuinn decided to save the day by announcing that his new space-age vacuum cleaner sounded just like an airplane taking off (it doesn’t, it just sounds like somebody’s just started vacuuming in the house next door – honestly, guys, you could at least have trimmed the opening section where somebody turns it on!) How did they think they could get away with this?! For once, even the excuse ‘well, it was the 60s – it was all new then’ sounds a bit hollow. The result is one of the funniest recordings of them all – but in the context of this brave album its a sad low spot to go out on, right up there with ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’s ‘Oh! Susannah’ as ‘last track on an album you never ever want to hear again’.

So, not every ‘trip’ this magic carpet of an album takes us on is successful. Sometimes you have to scratch your head and ask what on earth was going through the band’s minds that they thought they could get away with us. But then again, it’s amazing that there are any decent tracks on this album at all – having lost their lead writer Gene Clark and decided to forgo Bob Dylan songs for the foreseeable future (well, until the next album at least!), the bulk of this album is left to McGuinn and Crosby to fill, a pair of writers who had only managed 5 co-writes between them on Byrds albums total by then and they do so admirably, setting the templates for much of their music to come. If 5D is disappointing in many ways for an album that promises so much about taking us to ‘new dimensions’, in the context of The Byrds’ back catalogue its quite a revelation, marking the stepping stone where the band went from being a Gene Clark showcase with some nice Rickenbacker to being a fully fledged rock outfit who could sit comfortably amongst their contemporaries. 5D is not the best album from the magical year that was 1966 you will ever hear – but individual tracks are right up there with the best that music had to offer in that halcyon period. 

A Now Complete Link Of Byrd Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

'Mr Tambourine Man' (1965)
‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ (1965)

'(5D) Fifth Dimension' (1966)

'Younger Than Yesterday' (1967)

'The Nototious Byrd Brothers' (1968)

'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' (1968)

'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1969)

‘The Ballad Of Easy Rider’ (1969)

'Untitled' (1970)
'Byrdmaniax' (1971)
'The Byrds' (1973)

Surviving TV Appearances
Unreleased Songs
Non-Album Songs (1964-1990)
A Guide To Pre-Fame Byrds Recordings
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part One (1964-1972)
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Two (1973-1977)

Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Three (1978-1991)
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Four (1992-2013)
Essay: Why This Band Were Made For Turn! Turn! Turn!ing
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions