High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Of Mice (Dell Rats) and Men (Magnificent) - Part 1

Okay, Dell rats...our trip down Shady Lane has lasted almost two years. It's time to review.

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 Dell.

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 the 200 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 the Dell's Greatest Hits survey.

The most successful single released by the Magnificent Men was lifted from their Live 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 #90.

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 its take a walk on the wild side message.

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,
the Summer of Love,
the sun was slowly setting
on the glory days of my
youth, never to rise again.

The Magnificent Men next shared The World of Soul with 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. More on that in Part 2 next time!

Have a Shady day!

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