Formed in the early '60s, Los Angeles R&B quintet the 5th Dimension first appeared as the Hi-Fi's before changing their name in 1966 to better reflect the changing landscape of popular music. Their interpretations of some of the era's popular hits as well as songs by more obscure writers were radio mainstays in the late '60s and early '70s. This collection offers up most of their highest-charting and best-known singles like "Up, Up and Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," and their chart-topping version of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from the musical Hair. Working in multiple styles, these performances show just how versatile and dynamic the 5th Dimension were.
In the wake of Brian Setzer's success as a retro-swing act, his former Stray Cats partners Lee Rocker (bass) and Slim Jim Phantom (drums) formed their own swing/rockabilly/jump blues combo, the Swing Cats, with another rockabilly revivalist veteran, ex-Polecats guitarist Danny B. Harvey. The Swing Cats released their eponymous debut early in 1999, featuring guest vocal spots from Tim Polecat, Jamie James, and Claudia Cummings, among others. A Special Tribute to Elvis followed a year later. That same year Swing Cat Stomp was released.
With individual song comments from McNabb, an appreciative essay, complete discography, and fine artwork, the Icicle Works collection provides an excellent overview of the group's heyday. If not quite as strong as the band's debut album as an experience due to the inclusion of less successful later numbers, all the hit singles and some fine album cuts appear, not to mention an interesting rarity or two. Beginning with the "long version" of the chiming drive of "Hollow Horse" from The Small Price of a Bicycle, this collection fully showcases McNabb's passionate, elegant quaver and driving songwriting, as well as the abilities of the fine Layhe/Sharrock rhythm section. The three biggest hits get pride of place near the start: "Love Is a Wonderful Colour," "Birds Fly" (with wry comments from McNabb on its stateside re-titling as "Whisper to a Scream"), and "Understanding Jane".