The Magnificent Men were a blue-eyed soul band from York and Harrisburg, PA. They were perhaps best known for their hit record “Peace of Mind” which made a bit of a dent on the charts in 1965. They also opened up my young, impressionable ears to some other great music, most of it by way of the cover versions that they performed on their sensational 1967 Capitol Records album, The Magnificent Men Live, which was recorded at the venerable Uptown Theater in Philadelphia.
After hearing the great renditions by the Mag Men I wanted to hear the originals. So I went back to Gene Chandler for “Just Be True,” and Shorty Long for “Function at the Junction.” The album also included covers of “Show Me” by Joe Tex, “I’ve Been Trying” by the Impressions, and a great soul medley based on Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music.” Fortunately, “Live” is back in print after too long of an absence. Grab it.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is a cover of the Artistics’ 1966 hit “I’m Gonna Miss You”. The Artistics had been around for awhile before they had a hit. They had formed at Marshall High School in Chicago in 1958, and provided the background vocals for the Major Lance hit “Monkey Time” in 1963.
The group went through a series of lineup changes, particularly at the lead singer spot, and in 1963 they were signed to Okeh Records. A couple of years later they had their first hit with “This Heart of Mine,” which was written by Barrett Strong and reached #25 on the Billboard R&B chart. The song had been originally recorded by Marvin Gaye.
Two follow-up singles failed to get much love, and the Artistics left Okeh for Brunswick Records. Their very first single for the label, “I’m Gonna Miss You” was their biggest record ever. It reached #9 on the R&B chart, and crossed over to #55 on the pop chart in 1966. Their next single “Girl I Need You” did a little bit of business, but subsequent singles were less successful.
Despite the lack of chart success for the singles, the Artistics recorded some albums during this point that are now considered important in the history of Chicago soul. These included The Articulate Artistics (1968), and What Happened (1969). Years later they found a second life when they became favorites of Northern Soul aficionados.