5th Dimension – looking forward to a British tour

“I DON’T know why we haven’t done a tour in Britain,” said gorgeous Marilyn McCoo of 5th Dimension, “I guess the bookers haven’t been able to fix it yet. But we would all like to play some live dates here as soon as it can be arranged.”

5th Dimension dropped into London last week on a whirlwind 36-hour visit — long enough only to tape an appearance for a Julie Felix colour TV show. They were headed for TV dates in Germany and then on to MIDEM, the international music industry festival held annually in Cannes, on the French Riviera.

MM caught up with the group at the BBC’s Shepherds Bush studios for a brief chat between rehearsals for the show.

5th Dimension are a highly-rated American group who have made a big impression with their stylish and personalised treatment of Jim Webb compositions, like ‘Up Up And Away’, but Marilyn told me the collaboration between Webb and the group had diminished of late.

“There have been contractual difficulties just lately and we haven’t been doing as much of Jim’s material as we would have liked, although we have had at least one of his songs on each of our albums,” she said. “But we think that Jim is one of the greatest ever song writers.

“And we hope that in the future the difficulties will be sorted out and we can start doing more of his material.”

It’s fair to say that Webb’s songs brought the group into prominence, at least in Britain. But they were confident before their first hit that they had the talent to become a major act.

“We had been working the smaller clubs for about a year before ‘Up Up And Away’ and ‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ happened for us in the States and we had a pretty closely worked out act together. We didn’t wait until we had a hit. We had the act together and were working, waiting for the hit.

“And it’s certainly been hit records that have enabled us to move into the bigger clubs and TV shows.”

Back in the States, they are in demand for both the major night club circuit and for colleges and campus appearances. Marilyn’s preference is for the college scene.

“Playing a residency is nice, because you are in one place and there’s no getting up early and rushing for planes.”

But the group also enjoy their extensive cabaret work — like their recent season in Las Vegas with singer Frank Sinatra.

“We appeared for a month at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas playing opposite Sinatra. Jose Feliciano was also on the bill and it was a really nice show. From there we went to Miami and over Christmas played the Deauville Hotel.”

The group don’t play to the teenyboppers in America to any extent, but Marilyn noticed that in Miami, a lot of very young kids came to the shows.

“They came to the first show, which goes on around nine in the evening, with their parents. In fact, that show was almost all young kids — some younger than 13 even. It was nice there because at the later shows we got the older, more mature audiences.

© Alan WalshMelody Maker, 18 January 1969

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