Song of the Day, June 25: One Less Bell to Answer by the 5th Dimension

5thDBellToday’s song is one of the finest interpretations of a Burt Bacharach / Hal David song. The star songwriting team composed One Less Bell to Answer for Keely Smith in 1967. Rosemary Clooney had the first chart success with the song, taking it to #34 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1968. A couple of years later, another act crafted the definitive version.

In 1970, the 5th Dimension were a well-established hit machine. A smooth soul unit that incorporated folk and pop elements for a distinctive sound, the band racked up a dozen Top 40 hits starting in 1967. Producer Bones Howe know how to make the most of their sound, tracking down songs that he helped craft into musical magic. Most of their hits were written by Laura Nyro or Jimmy Webb, but they also successfully covered Neil Sedaka, John Phillips, and others. Howe heard One Less Bell to Answer and realized that it was a perfect fit for Marilyn McCoo’s voice.

A tale of heartbreak and resignation, it’s a classic Bacharach/David tune. Using simple imagery to masterful effect and weaving it into a complex musical fabric, they built something special. McCoo’s delivery is flawless, making the most of the ache in the song without devolving into pathos. It’s a wonderful track and one of the band’s biggest hits. [#2 Pop, #4 R&B, #1 Adult Contemporary]

Enjoy this classic pop gem today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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