Due to a fear of flying and group in-fighting, Gene Clark left The Byrds before Fifth Dimension was released. Without Clark, and a decision to avoid Dylan covers, the group are looking elsewhere for material – along with four covers from other sources, most of the songs are written by McGuinn and Crosby. Song for song, Fifth Dimension is weaker than The Byrds’ first two albums, but it’s much more diverse, and the bad songs help the strong ones stand out.
The centre piece is the psychedelic ‘Eight Miles High’, where McGuinn plays John Coltrane inspired leads on his twelve string guitar. ‘I See You’ mines similar material with its psychedelic guitars, while Crosby’s ‘What’s Happening’ sets off a blues beat against McGuinn’s guitar. Three of the covers are among the best material – The Byrds sound beautiful on British folk songs ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and ‘John Riley’, and the strings only sweeten their sound, while ‘I Come and Stand at Every Door’ is haunting.
There are a couple of obvious filler tracks on Fifth Dimension, particularly an awkward cover of ‘Hey Joe’, but the increased diversity makes Fifth Dimension their more enjoyable album yet.