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The Fifth Dimension “California Soul” (1968)

February 3rd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Fifth Dimension, also known as The 5th Dimension, is an American popular music vocal group, whose repertoire also includes pop, R&B, soul, and jazz.

The Fifth Dimension were best-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for popularizing the hits “Up, Up and Away” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.”

The five original members were Billy Davis, Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, and Ron Townson. They have recorded for several different labels over their long careers. Their first work appeared on the Soul City label, which was started by Imperial Records/United Artists Records recording artist Johnny Rivers. The group would later record for Bell/Arista Records ABC Records and Motown Records.

Some of the songwriters popularized by The Fifth Dimension later went on to careers of their own, especially Ashford & Simpson, who wrote “California Soul”. The group is also notable for having more success with the songs of Laura Nyro than Nyro did herself, particularly in the cases of “Wedding Bell Blues”, “Stoned Soul Picnic”, and “Save the Country”. The group also covered music by well known songwriters such as the song “One Less Bell to Answer” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

“California Soul” is a pop-soul tune written by Ashford & Simpson, issued originally as a single by American pop quintet The Fifth Dimension in late 1968. It was also covered by Motown vocal duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell the next year and was the duo’s last single together when released in early 1970.

Both the Fifth Dimension’s version and the Gaye/Terrell version were modest charted hits. The original performed better reaching number twenty-five on the pop singles chart, while Marvin and Tammi’s cover reached number fifty-six pop but never charted R&B. The duet was released after Terrell’s tragic death from a brain tumor in March 1970.

The song was a socially conscious-type of song advocating love and peace.

In 1969 Bluenote singer Marlena Shaw also did a version of the song which is now featured in a Dockers commercial circa 2008. The Diplo remix appears on the Verve Remixed volume 4 compilation album.

The song is also featured in The Italian Job (2003 film), starring Mark Wahlberg.

The song is sampled by Gang Starr in their song “Check the Technique.”

Additionally, a sample of the chorus from the Marlena Shaw version was used by Adam Freeland in his song “Mind Killer” aka “F.E.A.R”, which was featured in the 2001 video game Rez.

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  1. hollidayevery
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:57 | #1

    I originally heard …
    I originally heard this on an album the MY GRANDMOTHER had (in 1969)…my grandmother was so cool! I never even knew that the 5th released it as a single, but I loved this song even then…I love it so much that I did a search on the song itself, and that’s how I found out about the Marlena Shaw version just today in 2010…Great song! I Love YOUTUBE!!

  2. uKooKu
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #2

    Marvin Who? Tammi …
    Marvin Who? Tammi Huh? – (Just kiddin’, kids.)

  3. mlony1
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #3

    1- Fifth Dimension. …
    1- Fifth Dimension… 2 Marvin Gay and Tammy Terrell…

  4. MsTexas73
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #4

    and that is FINE… …
    and that is FINE…I was just adding my comment…as this is a discussion board.

  5. Iliketosee08
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #5

    And I still like …
    And I still like Marlena’s…. ….ONLY.

  6. MsTexas73
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #6


  7. MsTexas73
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #7

    I like both …
    I like both versions. Marlena’s version was more R&B. this one more pop…BOTH versions were VERY good.

  8. ButchMSLPig
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #8

    GROOVY !!
    GROOVY !!

  9. NostalgiaBob
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #9

    Great song. Great …
    Great song. Great group! I grew up to this music. The Fifth Dimension and the Carpenters were the harmony monsters of the late ’60’s and through the ’70’s.

  10. pamab22
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #10

    @pamab22 Je n’aime …
    @pamab22 Je n’aime pas aussi le pop, RandB, le soul et encore moins le jazz… Mais c plus affreux quand c’est melang/ dans un seul style !!!!

  11. pamab22
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #11

    Une tres bonne …
    Une tres bonne chanson, mais j’aime pas le Disco ou le Funk !!!
    Ces deux style me font CHIER !!!

  12. RamonaFromPomona
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #12

    Great song….. …
    Great song….. makes me wanna go back…. But when it rains there, it pours…It’s a shame the 5th are on their own. No Marilyn…

  13. tagbop
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #13

    this song make me …
    this song make me want to visit calfornia
    so many good verison of this song.Try Gerald Wilson^s jazz big band version brillient

  14. Iliketosee08
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #14

    Marlene did this …
    Marlene did this better than 5th Dimensions

  15. acadia0
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #15

    Tight vocals/ …
    Tight vocals/harmonies. The 5th Rocks!!!

  16. pontello3
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #16

    too super …
    too super cool!

  17. eyshaney
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #17

    thank u. i removed …
    thank u. i removed my comment

  18. JoseyFlyte
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #18

    Correction: “That …
    Correction: “That lingers in your ear”

  19. JoseyFlyte
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #19

    “That lingers in …
    “That lingers in you ear”

  20. MsTexas73
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #20

    They could have …
    They could have made it a three way event with Rotary Connection.

  21. BuddyNovinski
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:58 | #21

    Ironically I bought …
    Ironically I bought this record in the mistaken believe it was “Stoned Soul Picnic”. A year ago, I was astounded to hear the song in a grocery called PathMark. I didn’t think anyone had this song. Along with “Build Me Up, Buttercup”, this record I’ve had the longest, since Saturday, 15 February 1969.

  22. efwhite
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 | #22

    This simply blew me …
    This simply blew me away.

  23. recordguy4321
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 | #23

    The great Hal …
    The great Hal Blaine on drums.

  24. rockadelphia
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 | #24

    what happened to …
    what happened to the video to this song, it was one of my favorites

  25. jmkism
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 | #25

    Damn Straight! …
    Straight! We’re here–We hear. And Lord–it’s true. Beautiful posting.

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