As 1966 unfolded, the Magnificent Men followed the release of their 45rpm Dell smash "Peace of Mind" b/w "All Your Lovin's Gone to My Head" with more double trouble...
"Maybe Maybe Baby"
b/w "I've Got News."
Around that same time, the Mag Men's long-awaited first album for Capitol Records finally hit the street. I remember well the impact that long-play had on the youth of our region.
As a teenager, there were three coming-of-age milestones that I couldn't wait to reach:
* getting my driver's license
* owning my first car
* gettin' over to Disc-O-Rama and buying my first Mag Men album
Well, my first kiss belongs on that list somewhere, but you get the picture. A fact of life, a fundamental part of Central PA culture was a love of the Magnificent Men.
Already soulfully inclined, (no arm twisting required), Dell rats were all the more receptive to what the Mag Men were puttin' down because they were hometown boys.
On that first album and the two that followed...
...the Magnificent Men didn't just cover original r&b, soul and jazz standards...they interpreted the material and made it uniquely their own.
They gave some of us our first exposure to the recorded works of artists like the Artistics, Gloria Lynne, Shorty Long, and the Vibrations.
The Mag Men's faithful rendition of "Misty," a song that the Vibrations had placed on the chart in October/November 1965, is one of my all time favorites.
With its lush string arrangement and sappy, overstated romantic lyrics, "Misty" is admittedly a throwback - a ballad that's light years away from cool.
Yet, as I have emphasized before, many of us felt compelled to honor and immortalize songs like this. If for no other reason, we did so to remind ourselves of our heritage, of a bygone era when ladies and gentlemen roamed the earth wearing hats and gloves, reciting simple rhymes to one another and believing with all their hearts that love lasts forever.
In addition to introducing us to artists we didn't recognize, the Mag Men also gave us a deeper appreciation of artists we already knew like Curtis Mayfield, Joe Tex, Arthur Conley, the Temps, Tops, Pips, and Smokey.
As much as any teacher, preacher, statesman or diplomat, the Magnificent Men helped white Americans and black Americans to understand, accept and appreciate each other. During the turbulent years of the civil rights movement, their music helped to ease tensions, heal wounds, and bring a divided nation together.
The Magnificent Men: part of the solution. Thanks, guys!
Have a Shady day!
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