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The Magnificent 7 / The X Factor

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Don’t worry this is not somedaytime television style look into the role that Northern Soul has played inthe development of the musical tastes of Simon Cowell, Yul Brynner and Louisthe Leprechaun. Not such a bad idea though, come to think of it.

As any real Northern Soul fanwill be well aware, certain records are different to others. They stand outfrom the rest. A great record can send a shiver down the spine and touch anerve deep within the Soul. When you hear a record for the first time and youdesperately need to know who it is by, what label it is on and what it iscalled then that record has made an impact on you. More than that, it makessuch a deep connection with you that it becomes a part of you. When thishappens you know that a record has gotten under your skin. It is not justanother “okay” record that perhaps gets your feet a tapping. It is indeed muchmore than that when the lyrics of the song ring true and when the earnestsincerity of the vocal delivery is so completely believable that it touchesyour very Soul. Then the record could I guess, for want of a betterdescription, be said to have the “X” factor.

This “X” factor effect was the feeling thatmany Northern Soul fans became addicted to, and it was the seemingly endlessstream of so many newly discovered great records that really did give NorthernSoul fans that feeling, keeping the Northern Soul scene healthy, alive andvibrant, from the “golden age” of The Torch, Mecca, Casino, Cleethorpes,Stafford etc to today.

However, there is an old adagethat still rings very true and that is “time will tell”. It is only over timethat the litmus test of the quality of a truly great record can be measured. Longevityis very important if a record is to achieve the accolade of being truly deemeda “classic”. Only if after a period of five, ten, twenty or thirty years andthe record still sends a shiver down your spine you can safely say, that foryou personally, it is indeed a classic. Then such a record can be deemed tohave the “X” factor.

Of course the “X” factor effect doesnot only apply to out and out Northern Soul stompers. It is very often the midtempo or beat ballad number that gives you that rush. OK, preamble over…

One such record that instantlyhad and continues to give me that “X” factor feeling is a record that I firstheard way back in 1974 when it came to me in a batch of 45s from a guy inBuffalo, USA who I had managed to get in touch with.

Back then on my council estatenobody even had a phone in the house so it was a hike to the phone box to ringthe States and to ask the guy if he had any Soul records. This particular guysaid he had a pile of old soul / R&B 45s that I could have for $1 each. Ithink at the time I was working on some building sites in Kirby and taking homeabout 10 measly quid a week. Over the next few weeks I scrimped, saved andmanaged to scrape together a few quid and went into the local bank to ordersome USA dollars. It took about a week for thebank to get them in stock in those days. Eventually they arrived. $30 in $5notes. I eagerly and carefully wrapped them and posted them off to the guyhoping that I would soon be receiving a parcel of “Out On The Floor” styledanceable soul 45s that I was so desperately hungry for.

The weeks passed by and soon amonth had gone by. Sheeesh have I wasted my time? And more to the point have Iwasted my money? Eventually a parcel arrived and I quickly unwrapped it andlegged it upstairs to my bedroom to play them and to hear just what goodies hehad sent me from across the Atlantic Ocean.

As I remember The Marvelettes, “PaperBoy” was in there, a record that I hadn’t heard before. It was okay, but onlythat, yet at least it was on the Tamla label so surely the guy knew the kind ofsound I was looking for and hopefully there would be some Northern Soul stylesounds amongst the batch of 45s. I also remember pulling out a record onWheelsville and I recognized this logo as I had heard and loved “Cracked UpOver You” by Lee Rogers, I think when spun by Mike Pace of The Soul Spinners 4at Burscough Football Club. Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to bea slowish track by Steve Mancha called “Did My Baby Call”. I liked it but itwas way too slow to fill a dance floor, at least in those days it was. It wasfrom Detroit so another good reason for optimism. Ifiled Steve Mancha with my then small but growing collection of Detroit Soul 45s.

Getting deeper into the parcel, yikes, JamesBrown, Brook Brenton, not at all what I was hoping for and the parcel proved tobe sadly bereft of what back then was termed as out 'n’ out Northern Soul. Thankfullythough, one particular record for me really did stand out, in the words ofPatti Young, “head and shoulders above the rest”. It was down in tempo but withan intriguingly different vocal delivery. The lead singer had a very nasalvoice that grabbed one's attention. The backing singers were strong and thetrack meandered in and out, from being laid back and mellow in parts tosections of increased intensity. I was hooked. It was a Soul record out of leftfield and a special Soul record at that.

The lyrics were something else “Soclose a breeze can’t come between us. So tight you couldn’t part us with atommy gun. We’re standing in the need of one another. Like a flower standing inthe heat of the sun”

The record in question was “NeverWill I” by The Magnificent 7 on the Dial logo.

But who were The Magnificent 7?? Where theythe same group that recorded a record that was a huge Northern Soul monsteraround that time on Dee Gee by The Magnificents called “My Heart Is Calling”, Iwondered but no. They turned out to be - Thurman 'Ray' Ramsey, James Pleasantand two ex members of The Dukays - RichardDixon and Clarence Jasper.

Some time later one of John Manship’s listdropped through my letterbox and I noticed a record by the same The Magnificent7, this time on the Eastern label called – “She’s Called A Woman”. I had neverheard this and it was, at that time, quite expensive for me but I did alreadyown “The Real Thing” and “You’re Absolutely Right” by Tina Britt on the samelabel so I was sure it would be a winner. I ran again to the same phone box in Richmond Avenue and pushed button A and got through toreserve it. A week or so later it arrived and it was a stormer indeed. It was awhite demo as well and that may have been the start of another obsession, butthat is another story.

A year or so later I came acrossanother 45 by the Magnificent 7. It was a reasonable version of Marvin Gaye’s'Stubborn Kind Of Fellow' and I also got around that time a batch of 45s fromLew Stanley in the States and within the parcel was a 45 on Capitol called “MuchMuch More Of Your Love” by The Magnificent Men. The group sounded a little likeThe Magnificent 7. Could they be the same group? Back in those days you couldn’tGoogle a name and get a mass of information, it was not that easy and much moremysterious, but with the aid of a subscription to Discoveries, a USA magazineand UK magazines such as Chris Savory’s Hot Buttered Soul, Soul Cargo etc I wasable to gradually gain some insight.

I did read somewhere that The Magnificent Menon Capitol were most definitely a white group. My word they didn’t sound likeone! In time I bought a couple of LP’s by the Mag. Men from the sates, on thestrength of their Capitol 45’s that I had collected, and seeing the coverpicture of them proved that statement to be true. There are some superb non 45tracks on their albums by the way. But what about The Magnificent 7? Who werethey? Going by the vocals they could surely not be the same group, or couldthey? Surely they could not be white, orcould they? Is there anything worse than unanswered questions?? And the milliondollar question is who sang that distinctive lead vocal???

The years went by and my copy ofthe 45 was upgraded to a white demo, won in an auction from a rock and popdealer somewhere in Cornwall but little info on The Magnificent 7 came to light.

I remember playing the track toPete Lawson during one of his many visits to trade, play and talk about records.Pete was adamant that the singer was “deffo not white”. I was running Soul Filemagazine back then and we both used to search for group line-ups for inclusion.We both tried with various USA contacts but neither of us could come upwith any tangible or relevant information regarding the group or any of itsmembers.

I also remember having a debatewith my old buddy John Cloynes back in the early eighties as to whether TheMagnificent Men were actually the same group as The Magnificent 7 or not, andwe had a session in the Croston Soul kitchen playing all my records by bothgroups, yet no clear decision could be arrived at. Probably due to Johnbringing round a stack of those cans of strong lager.

Since then, due in no small partto the wonders of the world wide web, I have learned a lot more about the groupand shock horror, The Magnificent 7 were indeed originally an all white group,although they were certainly not the same group as The Magnificent Men whohailed from Pittsburgh.

It was in Lexington Kentucky, during 1959 that a young guy calledTony Stallard put together a group / band of musicians. He was a very talentedindividual as he played guitar and hammond organ, plus he was the original leadvocalist for the group. He had also been given the benefit of being taught toplay the piano from the age of seven.

The group where originally called TheTemptashuns and the original line up in the late fifties consisted of TonyStallard, lead guitar/vocals; Shelby Lorrison, rhythm guitar, Wendell Sams,organ/vocals, Doug Hammonds, tenor sax; Larry Kelley, drums; and Earl Morgan,bass. This morphed later into - The second lineup of Tony Stallard, Hammond organ/vocals, Shelby Lorrison, guitar;Doug Hammonds, tenor sax; Larry Kelley, drums; John Page, bass; and Larry Orr,lead vocals.

By 1963 the line up was - Tony Stallard,Hammond organ/vocals, Doug Hammonds, tenor sax, John Page, bass, Larry Kelley,drums, John Burrows, trumpet/flugelhorn, Larry Orr, lead vocals, Carter Hackneylead guitar; and Mickey Levy, lead and background vocals.

Around this time the groupbecame much more influenced by the emergence of the R&B and Soul styledartists. Tony sites:- James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, The Mar-Keys,Little Milton, Gene Chandler, Marvin Gaye and many others from the Motownstable in particular.

They also often gigged in the style of theBritish bands during the “British invasion” that swept across the USA via The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks,etc., but as he said “We never drifted far from what brought us to the dance…rhythm& blues. Soul material was what we did best and we rode the Night Train towhere the tracks led." The Beatles were huge in their influence but Lexington seemed to be, as it had been for a longtime, an R&B town due in large part to its proximity to Cincinnati, long a center for R&B music, fromHank Ballard to James Brown.

On September 22nd 1963 they undertook their first recordingsession at the Lemco recording studios in Lexington, Kentucky. The studio was owned by the group’smanager Cecil Jones and this session resulted in a release on Lemco 877 as TheTemptashuns. – Autumn Love c/w The Big B. Both sides of this 45 wereinstrumentals. The group were gaining a good reputation locally and supportedacts who toured the region, such as The Shirelles, The Coasters and TheChiffons

In February 1964 they cut – Sexy Ways c/w Strawberry Man and that release cameout on Lemco 878. The top side was a version of the Hank Ballard classic andthe flip was a groovy mod style organ instrumental that was written by TomStallard, but to me it sounds to have been more than a little influenced by “WatermelonMan”.

The groups third session was on June 4th 1964 and thiswas recorded at the King studios in Cincinnati, Ohio with production from Syd Nathan and GeneRedd as recording engineer and sound technician. Here they re-cut “Sexy Ways” but this time it was called Pretty Ways and they also re-cut Strawberry Man. These two were both released on Federal 12530.Two other recordings were done at the same time. You’re Gonna Cry and LoveGone, Love Return. These two tracks were both written by Tony Stallard and featuredhim on lead vocals. These however remained unreleased.

Later that year, in factNovember 29th, at the same studios they cut a version of Marvin Gaye’s - StubbornKind Of Fellow. This was “enhanced”, if that’s what you call it! By having alive audience track dubbed over it. The audience track used was actually fromthe James Brown Live At The Apollo album recordings. This was paired withanother Tony Stallard composition – “In Mist And Rain”, recorded the next dayand these were released on Lemco 882. Lead vocals on both tracks are said to beby blue-eyed Soul singer, Larry Orr. This single came out in 1965 and it provedto be the group’s best seller and was very popular in Detroit and across the mid west throughout 1965,but it didn’t make it onto the Billboard top 100.

Despite this glimpse at the possibility atleast of success a number of lineup changes occurred before they next recorded.The then line up of :- Tony Stallard, Hammond organ/vocals, Doug Hammonds,tenor/baritonesax; John Page, bass; John Burrows, trumpet/flugelhorn; Larry Orr, lead vocals;Carter Hackney lead guitar; and Meade Brown, drums was gradually changed intothe new line up of - Randy Evans on organ (he was later replaced with RichardPeck and eventually Tom Martin for a brief time, Charlie Shuck on lead vocals. BobMcCaw on lead guitar and vocals (he was later replaced with Les Taylor on lead guitar and vocals), Roger Daneon trumpet. Earl Grigsby on bass and vocals and Meade Brown remained on drums.

By 1966 Soul music was gaininghuge national success via Motown, Atlantic etc. and in the Summer of 66 theywere back in the Lemco studios in Lexington, Kentucky again where they recorded in much moreof a “Soul” style. It was on this session that they recorded four trackswritten by one Archie Himons, best known as Little Archie.

Archie was from Virginia and he was a singer himself who had beenin various Doo Wop groups in the late fifties and early sixties in New York. These included a group called TheParliaments, although these were not the legendary George Clinton led Detroit group. The Magnificent 7 were by nowmost certainly a Soul styled band. They cut Archie’s the uptempo mover – “She’sCalled A Woman” and it was leased out to Juggy Murray’s Sue label and came outon their subsidiary, Eastern 611.

This track has had spins on the Northern Soulscene at various times since the mid seventies and it was backed with “SinceYou’ve Been Gone So Long”. The group had one other single leased from thesesessions to Sue, also in 1966, this time it came out on Symbol 221- Take Me On /Skokie Drive. The flip was an instrumental similar to the early work provingthat the group was for the most part an accomplished backing band with varioussingers fronting at various times over the years.

At long last we arrive backwhere we started and the record, that still has that ”X” factor for me. It isnow 1968 and the story that I have heard is that Archie Hilmon / Little Archiewas resident in Nashville by this time. He had written and cut Never Will I (Make MyBaby Cry) with the group at the Lemco studios, then it was re cut at TheColumbia Records Studio in Nashville. Little Archie / Himons already had asolo single out on Dial in 1967 and he had another in 1968. The Magnificent 7release on Dial was sandwiched between these two. The other side was a greatversion of Smokey Robinson's Motown opus, "Ooh Baby Baby". The finefalsetto lead vocals on this side were actually from Charlie Shuck but who hadsang the distinctive lead vocal on ”Never Will I”?

Rumors have been around for manyyears that it was Little Archie himself. I spent some time listening closely toLittle Archie’s solo recording of “I Am A Carpet” and the flip side, “I NeedYou”, also on Dial, I did seem to detect some very slight similarities in thevocal delivery to that of the lead singer on “Never Will I”. Especially duringthe last third of “I Need You”.

As a result for some time I havebeen leaning toward the conclusion that the lead singer on “Never Will I (MakeMy Baby Cry)” is none other than Little Archie, all be it with a cold………….,

No no, hold the press, after allthese years and thanks to the power of the internet, I recently managed totrack down Charlie Shuck and today he confirmed by email that he was in factthe lead singer on “Never Will I (Make My Baby Cry)”.

Record case closed.

Edited by REVILOT
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I love reading things like that

What a great story

And i agree one of the great spine tinglers of all time.

Wish i still had my white demo :lol:

Al H :thumbsup:

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Nice Read J.C. Got Up Early This Morning To Read This As I Was Dropping Off Trying To Last Night Atb John. Best Wishes For Christmas & The New Year Just Incase I Don't see You Before!! :lol: :lol: :thumbsup:

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Absolutely brilliant piece of emotive writing, great to be reminded of how enthusiatic, and a little obsessively mad, this music can make us. Would be great to read more stuff like this on here. :thumbsup::lol:

For some reason, I keep thinking of Gary R playing this, although not his usual style, but it will always be associated with Dean Anderson for me, when Dean was leading the way in lots of stuff like this, top bloke, top taste, except in football obviously..........

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Well done, I really enjoyed this. "She's called a woman" has always been one of my particular favourites.


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Nice Read J.C. Got Up Early This Morning To Read This As I Was Dropping Off Trying To Last Night Atb John. Best Wishes For Christmas & The New Year Just Incase I Don't see You Before!! yes.gifyes.gif:thumbsup:

Glad you liked it John

All the best to you and yours

and see you soon.


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Many thanks for all your comments.

I am working on more pieces like thisthumbsup.gif

Good Man !! yes.gifthumbsup.gif:thumbsup: Keep Em Coming !! yes.gif

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