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STRING OF GOLD HITS

C'mon. Admit it. You know the songs, just about all of them. You probably even know the words, or most of them. "Up, up and away, my beautiful, my beautiful ballooooooon."

"One less bell to answer, one less egg to fry."

"This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . ."

Although they haven't exactly been setting the pop charts afire in the past few years, the members of the 5th Dimension created a smooth, memorably catchy fusion of soul and Broadway-style show tunes in the late '60s and early '70s.

After several recording and touring breaks and changes in personnel, the 5th Dimension is enjoying a career renaissance, marked by multi-week performance contracts in Las Vegas, new album tracks and a tour of selected U.S. cities.

The group's current lineup features original members Florence LaRue, Lamonte McLemore and Ron Townson; plus new recent additions Eugene Barry-Hill and Phyllis Battle.

LaRue is the 5th Dimension's leader and spokeswoman, and she has big plans both for the group and herself.

"Our stage show is geared toward all ages," she said in a recent telephone interview. "Of course, we do sing all our hits, but we don't rely just on the hits; we branch out quite a bit."

The 5th Dimension is participating in the recording of a new album that will feature updated versions of Motown classics.

One of the songs the 5D will record is Love Hangover, a tune many people associate with Diana Ross.

"Actually," LaRue pointed out, "we're not covering that song at all, because we recorded it first."

LaRue, who studied ballet and violin for 15 years before joining the 5th Dimension, says that acting is a longtime ambition of hers. "My goal is to do a really good film. Something really dramatic. I'd like to do some character acting."

LaRue's primary interest remains the 5th Dimension. The group has a new album of its own in the works.

"We would like to record some more original hit tunes," LaRue said. "And also a movie sound track; something we haven't done before."

After wrapping up a tour that will take the group to Atlanta, Houston, Clearwater, Miami and aboard a cruise ship bound for the Caribbean, LaRue will get to do something she's always wanted to do.

"Every year, the people at my church (Saint Nicholas Episcopal Church in Encino, Calif.) ask me to sing there during the holidays. And I'm always out of town," LaRue said.

"This year, though, between concert stops, I have one free day _ and it's the day of the Christmas concert. So I'll be able to be there."

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