The other night I was listening (as I often do) to Up, Up and Away, the 2-disc 5th Dimension collection from the late nineties that begs the question of how many acts from the rock and roll era can sustain a forty-song comp without breaking a sweat, yielding a single weak cut or ever so much as having been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I don’t know the exact answer, but I’ll bet you don’t need your second hand to count them.
Then, in the middle of the second disc, with the headphones on after midnight, I also realized something else, namely that, if this was indeed done in front of an audience in Las Vegas (hard to tell), it is almost without a doubt the greatest live harmony vocal ever recorded.
And if, by chance, it wasn’t recorded in front of an audience, this was…
Which means the greatest harmony vocal ever recorded in front of a live audience still belongs to black people who have never been given a tenth of the credit they deserve because the crit-illuminati–white to a man–decided they were too white.
That it’s also a master class in stagecraft (carried off–on television, where every mistake is magnified by a power of a thousand–by two people who are now approaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary) is just proof that Keats wasn’t wrong. A thing of beauty really is a joy forever.
That it took me this long to notice it’s a standout is a testimony to how strong their catalog is. Because, honestly, until just the other night, I thought it was just another good record by a group that made too many to count.
And, yes, They’re on the short list for a Track-by-Track….