Central Pennsylvania's own blue-eyed soul brothers, the Magnificent Men, brought "Peace of Mind" to the Shady Dell at the start of 1966.
On the flip side was the high energy dancer "All Your Lovin's Gone to My
Head," a killer bee that became the consensus A side of the record in
the northern soul clubs of Great Britain.
Autumn nights brought "Stormy Weather' to the Dell along with another superb Capitol release "Maybe, Maybe Baby."
The Magnificent Men returned to the Dell jukebox in July of 1967 with another amazing 2-sider.
Just as they had done the year before with "Peace of Mind," the Mag Men once
again knocked us out with their majestic harmony and powerful
instrumental backing. Their new one was entitled “I Could Be So Happy,”
a blue-eyed soul ballad that was destined to become solid gold at the
Amazingly, this sensational soul classic spent just one week on the Billboard
chart, stalling at #93. Up on Violet Hill the record was a stone smash.
"I Could Be So Happy" weighs in at #21 on my list of the200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.Like Mag Men 45s that came before it, this one was carrying a killer bee on its back.
"You Changed My Life” became an up-tempo dance favorite among rat packers and wound up at #47 on theDell's Greatest Hitssurvey.
The most successful single released by the Magnificent Men was lifted from theirLive album, recorded at Philadelphia’s Uptown.
“Sweet Soul Medley-Part 1 & 2,” a Mag Men tribute to their favorite Motown
and Chitown groups, made a slight dent in the Billboard chart in
September of 1967 lasting only two weeks before dying on the vine at
During that hippy trippy summer of 1967 I found it reassuring to have the
traditional sweet soul of the Magnificent Men back on WSBA radio and
back inside the Dell’s jukebox.
Those Mag Men songs were the perfect antidote for those of us feeling overdosed on heavier music and ambivalent about itstake a walk on the wild sidemessage.
Looking back, I can see that it was too little too late.
1967 was a pivotal year at the Shady Dell. As wailing guitars and defiant
'tudes replaced simple street corner harmonies and virtuous themes, I
got the distinct impression that the Shady Dell’s golden era was
drawing to a close. I sensed that the greatest music and the best of
times were behind me. In a couple of months I would be leaving town to
attend college. Soon I would be living away from home for the first
time in a town hours away from York. I was beginning to realize how
much I was going to miss my parents, my friends, Helen and John, and
the seductive charms of the Shady Dell.
In the summer of 1967, theSummer of Love, the sun was slowly setting on the glory days of my youth, never to rise again.
The Magnificent Men next sharedThe World of Soulwith their devoted fans, but the soul on that third album was mixed
with material that signaled a strategic shift away from their roots.
Before long the Men were asking us to march to the beat of a different
drum. Some long time fans were reluctant to follow.
The Magnificent Men released 9 singles on the Capitol label and 2 on Mercury. It's difficult for fans to fathom, but only 3 of those 11 singles made the Billboard chart and one of those, "Stormy Weather," got locked in the Bubbling Under basement. Shady's Law,
which states that the greater the song the lower its chart position
tends to be, was created with our Mag Men in mind! Remember too that
this is the Bilboard Pop chart that we're talking about. It's
disappointing to realize that a talented group of guys who had a
passion for soul and waxed some of the 60s best never registered a
single one of their songs on the Billboard black music chart!
December of 1967 another Mag Men doublesider found favor with the Dell
gentry. “Babe, I’m Crazy ‘Bout You” was chosen to be the push side for radio stations.
Penned by Billy Butler and produced by Carl Davis, two architects of the
Chicago soul sound who were friends of Bupp and the boys since the
Del-Chords days, "Babe" is a song that's easy to go crazy 'bout.
I like the fab flip just as much if not more. It's another Carl Davis
produced soul nugget entitled “Forever Together.”
As 1967 came to a close, fans of the Magnificent Men were noticing a
subtle change in the group's output. The two songs on their latest
single were good, but they were not quite in the same league with
"Peace of Mind." The days of back-to-back Dell megahits by the Mag Men
were over. Beginning with their next single in 1968 there would be no
more soulful double-siders coming from Bupp and company. The
Magnificent Men were about to change direction.
more Mag Men sides were released on 45 around March of 1968. “By the
Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Tired of Pushing” were taken from the
group's third Capitol album The World of Soul. To me the
name was somewhat misleading. Instead of serving up a heaping helping
of sweet soul music the long play was diluted with pop standards and
crossover country. “Phoenix,” “September Song,” and “Alfie” were given
a soulful treatment with pleasing results, yet those selections
signaled a fundamental change. The Magnificent Men began to stray from
their traditional Chi-town influenced soul and dabble in other musical
styles. Ironically, a white group that had built a reputation and a fan
following performing authentic interpretations of black music was doing
what certain black artists had done in an effort to win commercial
acceptance. They were starting to sound whiter.
I was spoiled, I suppose. The first studio album released by the Magnificent Men was wall-to-wall soul nirvana. "Peace of Mind" set the bar so high that it would be very hard to match and impossible to beat. Maybe that's why The World of Soul
was more of an acquired taste. Material that deviated too much from
"Peace of Mind" and the other gems on that first LP was bound to be
somewhat of a let down.
Don't get me wrong. The World of Soul is
a great album. The Mag Men are solid senders and deliver the goods much
more often than not. One of my favorite tracks is the seldom heard
"It's Got to Be Love," a Bupp-King original that's right in the pocket!
"It's Got to Be Love" would have made a great single release. If "Love" had
been paired with "Tired of Pushing" the Dell would have been blessed
with yet another Magnificent Men doublesider.
the release of the "Phoenix"/"Pushing" combination however, it was
clear that a pattern was emerging. Soul was being placed on the back
burner. Whoever was calling the shots chose “Phoenix” as the A side.
“Tired of Pushing,” a much more soulful song, was chosen as the B side.
Mag Men purists began to wonder why Capitol was refusing to promote the
type of material that fans had come to expect from their favorite white
soul group. Why were the group’s handlers trying to fix something that
The trend away from soul continued in the
summer of 1968. Ignoring the group's soul roots Capitol execs began to
tinker, tamper and tweak the sound of the Magnificent Men, performing
misguided experiments with new age country fusion. "Almost Persuaded,"
a song that left some Mag Men fans scratching their heads, was selected
as the A side of their next single. “I Found What I Wanted in You,” a
clearly superior song - one that soul survivors at the Dell heavily preferred - and a hit just waiting to happen
- was inexplicably relegated to the B side. The decision makers were
convinced that a countrified cautionary tale about man’s temptation had
a better chance of becoming a commercial success in 1968 than a sweet
soul masterpiece. The plan failed. Radio stations were almost persuaded to play the record and consumers were almost persuaded to buy it - almost
being the operative word. The Magnificent Men weren't winning many new
fans with their new direction and they were in danger of losing some of
their old ones.
Persuaded” might have been pushed on the public as the designated
“plug” side, but sagacious radio jocks and die hard Mag Men followers
had other ideas. The uplifting “I Found What I Wanted In You,” a
classic Mag Men ballad that picked up where “Peace of Mind” left off,
became the runaway cult favorite.
In the fall of 1968 the Magnificent Men released their last single for
Capitol. Once again, core fans had to flip "Save the Country" if they
wanted to hear the pure, unadulterated Magnificent Men sound that they
had grown to love.
their affiliation with Capitol records came to an end the Mag Men
finished strong. They came through for their fans with one last soul
saturated killer bee, “So Much Love Waiting.”
Perhaps the grass looked greener when the Magnificent Men left Capitol and signed with Mercury - but it turned out to be crab grass.
In an effort to adapt to the changing times and latch onto that elusive
success formula the Magnificent Men continued to change their image and
explore different types of material including jazz and prog rock, but
their Mercury recordings were uneven and sold poorly.
continued fan support and encouragement the Magnificent Men returned to
the basics years later and began delighting audiences with an ongoing
series of reunion concerts in Harrisburg and York and a series of
doo-wop/classic soul CD releases as part of The Class of 60-Something.
a white group performing black music in 1960s America, the Magnificent
Men had two strikes against them. It was a sign of the times when some
"white" radio stations declared that the Mag Men sounded too black and
some "black" radio stations who dug the sound refused to play their
records after they found out that the Men were white. As Dave Bupp's
story goes some black deejays even busted up their promo copies of
"Peace of Mind" and shipped them back to Capitol. When you factor in
record label politics and ineptitude and the fact that sweet soul,
the kind of music the Magnificent Men and their fans loved best, was no
longer "cool" by the late 60s, it's easy to understand why our hometown
heroes never attained superstar status.
That said, it's
gratifying to realize just how far the Magnificent Men were able to go,
how much they were able to do, and how indelible a mark they made on
American music and on society.
The Magnificent Men were giants among us. They were gods. The Magnificent Men gave us peace of mind and changed our lives for the better.
By means of their uplifting music they healed old wounds and broke down
the walls that separated white from black. At a time when other music
acts were polarizing us...the Magnificent Men were unifying us.
In a world filled with problems... the Magnificent Men were and still are a part of the solution.
I could be so happy if someday the whole world knows the extent of their contributions and these men... these Magnificent Men get the recognition they richly deserve!
The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me").
As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.
The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created.
The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon).
If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available.
Enjoy. "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
"If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.
Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay."
While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).
The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.