The Artistics

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1958-63)

- Jessie Bolian (RIP 1994) --  alto

- Aaron Floyd -- bass

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

- Curt Thomas  -- lead vocals


  line up 2 (1963-64)

- Jessie Bolian (RIP 1994) -- alto

NEW - Robert Dobyne -- vocals (replaced Curt Thomas)

- Aaron Floyd -- bass

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor


  line up 3 (1964)

- Jesse Bolian -- vocals

- Charles Davis -- vocals (replaced Robert Dobyne)

- Aaron Floyd -- bass

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

NEW - Marvin Smith -- vocals (replaced Robert Dobye)


  line up 4 (1964-67)

- Jesse Bolian -- vocals

- Charles Davis -- vocals (replaced Robert Dobyne)

- Aaron Floyd -- bass

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

NEW - Marvin Smith -- vocals (replaced Charles Davis)


  line up 5 (1967-68)

- Jesse Bolian -- vocals

- Aaron Floyd -- bass

NEW - Tommie Green -- lead vocals (replaced Marvin Smith)

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

NEW - Bernard Reed - bass


  line up 6 (1968-71)

- Jesse Bolian -- vocals

- Aaron Floyd -- bass vocals

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

NEW - Marvin Smith -- vocals (replaced Tommie Green)


  line up 7 (1971-72)

- Robert Dobyne -- vocals

- Aaron Floyd -- bass, vocals

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

NEW - Fred Pettis -- lead vocals (replaced Marvin Smith)

- Curt Thomas -- vocals


  line up 8 (1972-73)

NEW - Jessie Bolian -- second tenor

- Aaron Floyd -- bass

- Lawrence (Larry) Johnson (RIP) -- second  tenor

NEW - Jimmy Short -- vocals

NEW - Morris Williams -- lead vocals (replaced Fred Pettis)




- The Four El Dorados (Marvin Smith)

- El Dorados (Marvin Smith)

- Elevation (Larry Johnson)

- The Majestic Arrows (Larry Johnson)

- The Moroccos (Larry Johnson)

- Persuasions (Larry Johnson)

- The Tempos  (Marvin Smith)





Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  I'm Gonna Miss You

Company: Brunswick

Catalog: 54123

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2727

Price: $40.00



After two unsuccessful years on Okeh, in 1966 The Artistics followed producer Carl Davis to Chicago-based Brunswick Records.


Released as their Brunswick debut, the group-penned 'I'm Gonna Miss You' provided The Artistics with their long awaited national breakthrough.   


- 1966's 'I'm Gonna Miss You' b/w 'Hope We have' (Brunswick catalog number 55301)






With a top-10 hit on their hands, the group undertook a national tour, but with Marvin Smith having already launched a parallel solo career, group tensions started to become an issue.  Apparently already disliked by the rest of the group for his bossy attitude, things came to a boil when Smith enjoyed a modest hit with his first solo single:





- 1966's 'Time Stopped' b/w 'Have More Time' (Brunswick catalog number 55299)








At the conclusion of the first phase of their national tour, Smith left to go solo.  He was quickly replaced by Tommy Green.  Green had known the group members since high school.  The Artistics also decided to expand their line-up with the addition of  bassist Bernard Reed.


As was standard marketing procedure, hoping to take advantage of the hit single, Brunswick rushed The Artistics into the studio to record a supporting album.  Produced by Carl Davis, 1967's "I'm Gonna Miss You" was interesting for a couple of reasons.  For an album that was recorded on the fly, the results were surprisingly strong.   Part of the reason for the album's quality stemmed from the fact most of the material reflected group-penned originals.  That was in itself a rarity.  Relatively few mid-'60s soul groups wrote their own material; let alone were given the opportunity to record it.  Kudos to Davis and Brunswick for avoiding the usual mishmash of warmed over pop classics and period hits.  In addition to their creative talent he group was also blessed with several strong singers. Smith was featured on the title track hit, but his replacement Tommy Green stepped into the gap without any loss in quality.  Checkout his performances on the breezy ballad 'Glad I Met You' and the up-tempo single 'Girl I Need You'. 


"I'm Gonna Miss You" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sweeter Than Sugar   (Jesse Bolian -  Bernard Reed - Daniel Reed) - 2:16   rating; **** stars

Classic mid-'60s Chicago soul ...  the refrain on this one was worth the price of the album by itself.   You had to wonder why Brunswick passed on releasing it as a single.

2.) Glad I Met You   (Daniel Reed - Tommy Green  - Othie Wright) - 2:53   rating; **** stars

Tommie Green on lead ...  'Glad I Met You' was another silky smooth, breezy ballad with a refrain that you simply couldn't shake out of your head.  The way the harmonies built into a wave was stunning.  Hard to believe it was relegated to the "B" side of 'Girl I Need You'. 

3.) There Is No Sadness    (Jesse Bolian - Larry Johnson) - 2:06   rating: *** stars

As nice as the song was, the star of the up--tempo 'There Is No Sadness' was the galloping bass line.  Stunning performance.  I'd die happy if I could play like that.   

4.) Love Song   (Larry Johnson - Carl Davis) - 2:09   rating: *** stars

With Sonny Sanders providing a jazzy, MOR horn arrangement, the ballad 'Love Song' wasn't bad, but simply lacked the drive and energy of some of the other tunes on the album.   I will tell you the guitar solo on this one was killer.   Brunswick also tapped it as another single::





- 1967's Love Song' b/w 'I'll Always Love You' (Brunswick catalog number 55326)







5.) Hope We Have   (Marvin Smith - William S. Butler) - 2:12   rating: **** stars

Admittedly ballads were The Artistics' mainstay, but as demonstrated by 'Hope We Have', they could also churn out a dance floor classic.  This had everything needed to make Northern soul fans smile - pounding rhythm; great rhythm guitar, sax break, and those driven vocals ...  One of the album's standout performances.

6.) I'm Gonna Miss You   (Marvin Smith - Jesse Bolian - Larry Johnson) - 2:35   rating: ***** stars

Their only top-10 hit, the title track was simply a soul classic.  Mesmerizing on every level with a melody that was instantly memorable.  With Smith on lead it's always reminded me of what The Temptations would have sounded like if they'd decided to record a Beach Music tune.  Guaranteed to make you smile.  In 1999 a bunch of Northern Soul fans arranged for a brief reunion between Johnson, Smith and Thomas.  The trio were recorded singing this tune for a Northern Soul DVD project 'The Strange World of Northern Soul".  The performance was quite good; particularly given they were no long young men, but then they may have been lip synching.  You can check it out yourself: (I think the line up left to right reflects Curt Thomas, Marvin Smith, and the late Larry Johnson).


(side 2)

1.) Girl I Need You   (Barbara Griffith - Tommy Green - Daniel Reed) - 2:28   rating: **** stars

Tommy Green on lead, this up-tempo number was another album highlight.  Always loved the thump, tup, thump bass and the shimmering backing vocals.  The song was tapped as the album's second single, though interestingly the 45 version had a different, slighter tougher mix than the album version.  





- 1967's 'Girl I Need You' b/w 'Glad I Met You' (Brunswick catalog number 55315)







2.) I'll Always Love You   (Jesse Bolian - Carl Davis) - 2:42   rating: *** stars

Julian Bolian on lead vocals, 'I'll Always Love You' found the group taking a stab at a Motown-flavored tune.  Nice tune, though Bolian's voice wasn't as good as some of the other members.

3.) It's Gonna Be Alright  (Larry Johnson - Carl Davis) - 2:16   rating: **** stars

Sweet, breezy mid-tempo ballad with one of the album's best refrains. Not sure who handled lead on this one, but they had one helluva voice.   

4.) Why, Why, Why   (Kari Tarleton - Gerald Sims) - 2:27   rating: **** stars

Otis Leavill covered it first and while The Artistics cover wasn't radically different, there take is superior.  Wonderful Beach Music-styled tune with some tasty guitar licks thrown in.  One of the album's "sleepers", I'm a sucker for this kind of dance-ready tune.  Try sitting still through this one.

5.) You're Wonderful   (Bernard Reed - Daniel Reed - Gerald Simms) - 1:52   rating: **** stars

On the surface 'You're Wonderful' was a bit MOR-ish, but the vocals were fantastic and the Sonny Sanders arrangement did a fantastic job of merging the sophisticated orchestration without burying the soulful vocals.  Shame it was so short.

6.) On & On   (Tommy Green - Daniel Reed - Carl Smith) - 2:00   rating: **** stars

Ah, Chicago soul at its best ...  Those harmonies were simply amazing.  Again, the only criticism of this one was the tune was simply too short.






Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  What Happened

Company: Brunswick

Catalog: BL 754153

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: still sealed

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 1453

Price: SOLD $50.00


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 back in the line up and 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 sappy ballad 'That Lucky Old Sun', and the old-school pop chestnut '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" track listing:
(side 1)

1.)  What Happened (To the Love We Had)   (Barbara Acklin - Eugene Record) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

'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.   Brunswick tapped it as the lead-off single:





- 1969's 'Walking Tall' b/w 'What Happened (To the Love We Had)  (Brunswick catalog number 755404)  







2.)  The Price of Love   (Eugene Record) - 2:41   rating: **** stars

One of the tunes with a distinctive Motown edge, 'The Price of Love' was an up-tempo, bouncy tune that should have provided the band with a massive hit.  
3.)  Yesterday's Girl   (Carl Davis - Eugene Record) - 2:55  
rating: *** stars

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) 





4.)  When I'm Not Around   (Eugene Record) - 3:14   rating: **** stars

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.     
5.)  Why Did She Have to Leave Me (Why Did She Have to Go)   (Barrett Strong - Norman Whitfield) - 2:53  
  rating: *** stars

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.


(side 2)
Walking Tall  (Gary Jackson - Floyd Smith) - 2:46   rating: **** stars

Interesting, 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.   
2.)  I Wish You Love   (Albert Beach - Charles Trenet) - 3:26
  rating: ** stars

3.)  What the World Needs Now Is Love   (Burt Bachrach - Hal David) - 2:50
  rating: ** stars

Needlessly sappy remake of this Jackie DeShannon hit.   Poor choice for a cover and the hackneyed arrangement didn't do anyone credit.
4.)  With These Hands   (Benny Davis - Abner Silver) - 4:18 
  rating: ** stars

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 [ut a great deal of effort into their cover. 
5.)  That Lucky Old Sun   (Haven Gillespie - Harry Beasley Smith) - 2:57 
  rating: ** stars

If you had to listen to this 1940s classic, I'd suggest going with the Ray Charles cover.