Living Together, Growing Together

by: The 5th Dimension

For their eighth album of new studio material, the 5th Dimension were sticking to essentials while attempting to stay modern and relevant. As styles and trends in pop and R&B were becoming more flamboyant and expressive, Lamonte McLemore, Ron Townson, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, and Florence LaRue Gordon remained as solid and somewhat predictable as ever. Living Together, Growing Together (1973) marked the "beginning of the end" for the vocalists reign of non-stop hits, although three of the album's 11 cuts would make it onto the charts. Unlike a majority of the selections that were hand-picked either by or for the 5D, "Living Together, Growing Together" was chosen both as a bit of cross promotion for this LP's centerpiece and as a central theme in the update of Frank Capra's classic motion picture Lost Horizon (1973). The quintet themselves sound splendid, considering the dearth of depth within the song itself. Additionally, the false endings provide an interesting musical contrast to the typical 5D fare. The cover of Nilsson's "Open Your Windows," with its slinky, soft, and complex backing harmonies is an ideal vehicle for McCoo's sultry intonations. She earns major points on Paul Anka's "Changed" thanks to Bones Howe's vigorous score allowing for a pleasant contrast between the singer and instrumentation. "Ashes to Ashes" builds off of its substantial midtempo groove and yields a perfect pop melody for the 5D to wrap their collective voices around. The bluesy waltz of "The Riverwitch" is a treat as Davis, Jr. is at his best, lending some typically tasteful and thoroughly sanctified soul. Davis, Jr. likewise shines on the rousing "There's Nothing Like Music" and the mature ballad "Never Was the Day." Florence LaRue Gordon takes the lead on the second Bacharach/David composition, the comparatively superior "Let Me Be Lonely." Not only is it one of the finest offerings on the entire long-player, but among her best with the group. In 2007, Living Together, Growing Together was coupled with Individually & Collectively on a single-disc two-fer from Collectors' Choice Music -- making both titles available for the first time on CD in North America. ~ Lindsay Planer

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