Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: 5th Dimension

Go Where You Wanna Go

Written and first recorded by The Mamas & The Papas (1966).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #16/CAN #9 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ was written by John Phillips, and was first recorded by the Mamas & The Papas for their LP If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.

“In [Hal] Blaine’s book, Michelle admits ‘Our group had never sung with anything but an acoustic guitar until that fateful day in 1965 when we came together in Studio 3 at Western Recorders. There, the Mamas and the Papas’ ‘sound’ was created with the distinctive beat that Blaine already made himself famous for.’

“That ‘sound’ was the key. Sloan writes, ‘We needed to find a mic that worked magic for their voices, and the perfect echo and reverb for them. Without it, their voices didn’t seem to fly.’ You can hear it on the first Mamas and Papas single, ‘Go Where You Wanna Go’, which inexplicably failed to catch on when it was released on Dunhill.”

What Really Happened To The Mamas And The Papas?, by Mitchell Cohen, 2017

“‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ was later made into a hit by the The 5th Dimension, who recorded the song for their debut studio album, Up, Up and Away, in 1966, becoming the group’s very first single release.”

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In

First recorded by The Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #1/R&B #6/CAN #1/UK #11/AUS #3 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In’ is a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado & Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music). Originally recorded as separate performances by the cast of Hair, the medley recorded by The 5th Dimension became one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide. ‘Aquarius’ was ranked #33 on the 2004 American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Songs listing (in the motion-picture adaptation of Hair, produced in 1979).

“The lyrics of this song were based on the astrological belief that the world would soon be entering the ‘Age of Aquarius’, an age of love, light, and humanity, unlike the then-current ‘Age of Pisces’. The exact circumstances for the change are ‘When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars.’ This change was presumed to occur at the end of the 20th century; however, major astrologers differ extremely widely as to exactly when: Their proposed dates range from 2062 to 2680. ”

Sweet Blindness

Written and first recorded by Laura Nyro (1968).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #13/R&B #45/CAN #15 1968).

From the wiki: “‘Sweet Blindness’ was written by Laura Nyro (‘Stoney End‘, ‘Eli’s Comin’‘, ‘And When I Die‘) and first recorded by her for the 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. (At Nyro’s insistence, the album’s lyric sheet – which itself was a rarity for records in 1968 – was perfumed, and fans have reported that it still has a pleasant aroma.) When she’d sing ‘Sweet Blindness’ in concert, Nyro would introduce the song as ‘A little drinking song I wrote.’

“‘Sweet Blindness’ was another one of several Nyro songs that The 5th Dimension covered and took into the Top 40, also including ‘Wedding Bell Blues‘, ‘Stoned Soul Picnic‘, and ‘Save the Country‘.”

California Soul

First recorded by The Messengers (1967).
Hit versions by The 5th Dimension (US #25/R&B #49 1969), Marlena Shaw (1969 |UK #157 2008), Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (US #56 1970), Riot Act (UK #59 2005).
Also recorded by Edwin Starr (1970), The Undisputed Truth (1971).

From the wiki: “‘California Soul’ was a Pop-Soul song written by Nick Ashford & Valeria Simpson and first recorded in 1967 by Motown’s Monkees-inspired group, The Messengers, released as the B-side of the group’s ‘Window Shopping’ single. It would also be covered in 1967 by Motown superstars Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – one of Tammi’s final recordings before being diagnosed with brain cancer – but would go unreleased until 1970 when it became the celebrated duo’s final single, released following Tammi’s death in March 1970.

“‘California Soul’ first charted as a single recorded in late 1968 by The 5th Dimension. UK singer Marlena Shaw covered the song the following year for her album Spice of Life. Shaw’s version originally was not released as a single in the US but became a staple of the UK Northern Soul scene. Following its use in a TV advert in 2008, the song’s re-release became Shaw’s best-known recording in the UK. UK group Riot Act charted in 2005 with their recording of ‘California Soul’. Apart from The Messengers and Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrell, other Motown recording artists who also recorded covers of ‘California Soul’ included Edwin Starr, in 1970; and The Undisputed Truth, in 1971. ”

I Believe in You and Me

First recorded by The Four Tops (R&B #40 1982).
Also recorded by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (1983), David Peaston (1991).
Hit version by Whitney Houston (US #4/R&B #4/UK #16 1996).

From the wiki: “‘I Believe in You and Me’ is a ballad written in 1982 by Sandy Linzer and David Wolfert, and first recorded and released by The Four Tops in 1982. In 1983, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (formerly of The 5th Dimension) recorded the first cover of the song for their album Solid Gold. David Peaston would win the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist in 1991 for his recording.

Saving All My Love for You

First recorded by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (1978).
Hit version by Whitney Houston (US #1/R&B #1/UK #1 1985).

From the wiki: “‘Saving All My Love for You’ is a song written by Michael Masser (‘The Greatest Love of All‘) and Gerry Goffin with arrangement by Gene Page (Love Unlimited Orchestra). It was originally recorded by former 5th Dimension-aires Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. in 1978 for their album Marilyn & Billy.

Wedding Bell Blues

Written and first recorded by Laura Nyro (US #103 1966).
Also recorded by Lesley Gore (1969).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #1/R&B #23/UK #16/CAN #3 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Wedding Bell Blues’ is a song written and recorded by Laura Nyro in 1966 that became a #1 hit for The 5th Dimension in 1969 and, subsequently, a popular phrase in American culture. The song carries dual themes of adoring love and frustrated lament. Nyro wrote ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ at the age of 18 as a ‘mini-suite’, featuring several dramatic rhythmic changes, was to be recorded in 1966 as part of what would become her More Than a New Discovery album.

“However, producer Herb Bernstein did not allow Nyro to record this version, which led to Nyro more or less disowning the entire album. What was recorded was fairly similar in content and arrangement to the later, much more familiar, 5th Dimension version, albeit with a somewhat more soulful vocal line. It was released as a single in September 1966 and remained on the Billboard Pop Singles ‘Bubbling Under’ charts segment for several weeks.

One Less Bell to Answer

First recorded by Keely Smith (1967).
Hit versions by Rosemary Clooney (MOR #28 1968), The 5th Dimension (US #2/MOR #1/R&B #4 1970).

From the wiki: “‘One Less Bell to Answer’ is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (“The Look of Love“, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again“, “Alfie“), originally written for and recorded in 1967 by Keely Smith (‘I’m a Gigolo’, with Louis Prima). The song was rediscovered in late 1969 by Bones Howe, the producer for The 5th Dimension, and the song was included on the group’s 1970 debut album for Bell Records, Portrait. Rosemary Clooney had, a year earlier, in 1968, charted the song on Bilboard’s Easy Listening chart – one of the two last recordings she made before her nervous breakdown (after witnessing Robert Kennedy’s assassination).”

Save the Country

Written and first recorded by Laura Nyro (1968).
Also recorded by The Magnificent Men (1969), Brian Auger & The Trinity (1969), Thelma Houston (1970), Robert Flack (1971).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #27/#10 MOR/CAN #24/#79 AUS 1970).

From the wiki: “Laura Nyro wrote ‘Save the Country’ as her reaction to Robert Kennedy’s assassination in June, 1968, and recorded the original version of the song with just a piano accompaniment. It was released as a single in 1968 and did not chart, but would be included on Nyro’s 1969 album New York Tendaberry, her most commercially-successful album. (‘Time and Love’ from the album would also see commercial release as a single in 1970, by Barbra Streisand.)

The Worst That Could Happen

First recorded by The 5th Dimension (1967).
Hit version by The Brooklyn Bridge (US #3 1969).
Also recorded by Jimmy Webb (1996).

From the wiki: “‘The Worst That Could Happen’ was originally recorded by The 5th Dimension for their 1967 album of nearly all-Jimmy Webb-composed songs, The Magic Garden. The song depicts a man reflecting on an affair he’d had with a woman with whom he is still in love, but who is about to marry someone else. It has been stated that, along with ‘MacArthur Park’ and ‘By The Time I Get to Phoenix‘, ‘The Worst That Could Happen’ is about a relationship that Webb had had with a woman named Susan.

“Webb’s song was later recorded by Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge and reached the Billboard Hot 100’s Top-40 in 1969.

“The song is noted for the quoting of Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’ from the incidental music to ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’, which is heard at the song’s end, which in the Brooklyn Bridge version, is played by a handful of trumpets, while in the Fifth Dimension version, is played by an electric organ.

“Jimmy Webb recorded his own version of the song for his 1996 album Ten Easy Pieces.”

Stoned Soul Picnic

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Laura Nyro (1968).
Also recorded by Laura Nyro (1968).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #3/R&B #2 1968).

From the wiki: “Bones Howe, who had engineered the first 5th Dimension hit, ‘Up-Up and Away,’ became the group’s producer and introduced them to this song and to the music of Laura Nyro. After ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’ also became a hit, the group recorded several other Nyro songs (including ‘Sweet Blindness‘, and ‘Save The Country‘) with great success.

Workin’ on a Groovy Thing

First recorded by Patti Drew (US #62/R&B #34 1968).
Also recorded by Barbara Lewis (1968), Neil Sedaka (1969).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #20/R&B #15 1969).

From the wiki: “Neil Sedaka co-wrote ‘Workin’ on a Groovy Thing’ in 1968 but did not record his own version of the song until 1969 when touring Australia. Sedaka recorded an album titled Workin’ on a Groovy Thing on a one-off basis for a Sydney, Australia-based label at a time his career had slumped and his contract had not been renewed by his former label in the USA. (In the United Kingdom, the album was released on the MCA label under the title Sounds of Sedaka.) Patti Drew was the first to record and release the song, in 1968.

Up, Up and Away

First recorded by The Sunshine Company (1967).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #7/CAN #18 1967).

From the liner notes to The Best of the Sunshine Company: “The Sunshine Company’s very name summons the spirit of the mini-genre of 1960s pop-rock that, long after its heyday, was named Sunshine Pop. So does their music, with the requisite exquisite multi-part male-female harmonies, buoyant optimism, and luxuriant late-1960s L.A. studio production … a brief career that whisked them through the orbits of the Carpenters, the Fifth Dimension, Jackson Browne, the Jefferson Airplane, Mary McCaslin, and John Davidson, ending at the even unlikelier destination of a pre-stardom Gregg Allman.

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