The Artistics – 1969 – What Happened
Six slammin’ Artistics sides and four standards “artistically” sung make for some enjoyable listening. The Chi-Lites’ “Price of Love” is sung in Marvin Smith’s natural voice, distinguishing it from the original falsetto version. Gary Jackson’s “Yesterday’s Girl” remains one of their more enduring recordings. The scorching “What Happened to the Love We Had” showcases Smith’s unique, mercurial tenor. His reading of “I Wish You Love” rivals the late Eddie Kendricks’ rendition from the Temptations’ In a Mellow Mood. A basement-deep bass accents a soulful version of “With These Hands.”
The harmonies are wonderful – smooth, but with a rough undercurrent too – balanced at a level that few groups could touch at the time, save maybe The Four Tops! Yet the style’s way different than Motown, too – very much in that loping Brunswick soul style of the time, which means there’s all these great grooves that really keep things going – even at mellower moments. Eugene Record produced and wrote most of the tracks.
A1 What Happened (To The Love We Had)2:58
A2 Yesterday’s Girl 2:41
A3 Price Of Love 2:55
A4 When I’m Not Around 3:14
A5 Why Did She Have To Leave Me (Why Did She Have To Go?) 2:53
B1 Walking 2:46
B2 I Wish You Love (Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours) 3:26
B3 What The World Needs Now Is Love 2:50
B4 With These Hands 4:18
B5 That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day) 2:57
Released in 1969, “What Happened” was The Artistics’ fourth album in three years. And if you were buying this one, chance are you already had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Co-produced by Carl Davis and Eugene Record, the album wasn’t exactly a major departure from their past moves – a tad more rocking, but not a major departure. With Marvin Smith handling most of the lead vocals, the collection showcased a mixture of old school ballads and mid-tempo dance tunes. Song-for-song the set was quite enjoyable, with a couple of the tracks reflecting a slight Motown edge. Interestingly, that Motown feel made ‘The Price of Love‘, ‘When I’m Not Around‘ and ‘Walking Tall‘ three of the album highlights. The down side came in the form of side two where producers Davis and Record saddled the group with a mindless stream of MOR covers, including Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love‘, the hideous ballad ‘With These Hands‘. Too bad they weren’t steered in a slightly more contemporary direction since they certainly had the talents to compete with the very best.
‘What Happened (To the Love We Had)” was a nice mid-tempo tune with interesting orchestration that sounded a bit like something Norman Whitfield might have pulled together for The Temptations. Showcasing Marvin Smith on lead vocals, the tune was one of the album’s standout performances.
One of the tunes with a distinctive Motown edge, ‘The Price of Love‘ was an up-tempo, bouncy tune that should probably have been an ‘A’ side rather than being relegated to a ‘B’ side.
Well the pseudo-rapping intro was kind of interesting. Other than that ‘Yesterday’s Girl‘ is probably best known as being tapped as the album’s single:
– 1969’s ‘Yesterday’s Girl’ b/w ‘The Price of Love’ (Brunswick catalog number 755416)
Yeah, yeah I know they were from Chicago, but ‘When I’m Not Around‘ sure sounded like a Motown tune to my ears. Sporting some killer horns, as well as one of the album’s best hooks, it was also an album highlight. Another highlight – hearing Aaron Floyd’s rumbling bass voice.
Why Did She Have to Leave Me (Why Did She Have to Go) , Featuring a young Dennis Edwards, The Temptations’ version was far better known, but The Artistics cover wasn’t half bad. Not all that different an arrangement, but surprisingly enjoyable. Walking Tall , the rugged lead vocal has always reminded me a bit of a David Ruffin-era Temptations tune. Always loved the chugging bass pattern on this one. Another goody well worth checking out.
What the World Needs Now Is Love , Needlessly sappy remake of this Jackie DeShannon hit. Poor choice for a cover and the hackneyed arrangement didn’t do anyone credit.
With These Hands, Another tune that’s been covered by a ton of groups including The Delfonics. To be honest, the song is so over-the-top sappy that nobody could salvage it. The Artistics seemed to know it and didn’t cut a great deal of effort into their cover.
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