Friday, November 23, 2012

#125: The Byrds - Fifth Dimension (1966)

Throughout these reviews, I try to stay impartial and judge without prejudice. However, I'm like a starving piranha right now, I'm ready to tear this apart. Unless the Byrds completely changed out all of the musicians and they have a completely different sound, I don't believe I'm going to like this.

Wild Mountain Thyme
I liked the beginning. The middle harmony and the melody are pretty bland, but the way top harmony goes in and out to create a lot of air around it is really good. The strings don't really add anything other than obvious parts at obvious times. I think if they completely embraced what they wanted to do, I'd really like it. It should be an a capella song, the instrumentation does nothing for the song - so why have it?

I Come and Stand at Every Door
The song is about a man who died during Hiroshima and he's coming back to express that all he wants is peace. Musically  nothing happens during the song. There's excessive vamping (in a bad way) and while I appreciate that they're trying to do something different, it still doesn't gel with me. This album in no way drudges on quite as bad as their record, "Tambourine Man" but there are certain elements they feel as if they have to force into every song. The guitar and drum parts are incredibly similar from song to song, if those parts don't fit this particular song - they just make them quieter in the mix. It's like they're stuck in a musical creative loop that they can't get out of and the producers are trying to manufacture a way out.

Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)
Best track on the album, it doesn't sound like the Byrds at all. They ditch the harmonies, it's much more rock with a tidge of blues. The vocals are good, the guitars are wicked and quick, and the drums make Byrds history by doing something different. While the drummer may only being quarter notes, it's a welcome change. The song is only two minutes long because there's just not enough variation throughout. However, they tried something different and it gives a glimmer of hope that I may not hate the next three records I have to review.

All in all, it's better than "Tambourine Man". Then again, so far only 7 records have been worse. The record very clearly has it's fault and things I would never have let stand, but they're trying to break out of their shell and I do commend them for that. If I saw this kind of growth over the next 5 albums I think I may enjoy the sixth. Then again, I hate to be so critical about a band who has had so much success, but at the same time regardless of their success - I still don't necessarily like it. To very loosely quote Spinal Tap in reference to this album: "On which day did God create the Fifth Dimension and couldn't He have rested on that day too?"

Tomorrow's album: Mat Kearney's City of Black and White.

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