I have been using articles now for a while, and have discovered that they really do work.
Of course, it's better for SEO if you are submitting unique articles to each directory, rather than the same ones over and over again. That's why so many marketers use article spinning software to make unique versions of the same article, thereby maximizing the SEO benefit they get from each.
But frankly I can't see the point of this. If you get a machine to spin an article, then you end up with something that is pretty much gibberish, or at best very awkward to read. If you had any pride at all, you wouldn't submit that to directories to link back to your website.
If you did have some pride in your work, then you would at least rewrite that spun article so that it looks like a human created it! But if you were to do that, then why not rewrite the whole article?
And if you would go to the effort of doing that, then why not just write a whole new article from scratch? It would take about the same amount of effort - probably less, since writing something anew is more enjoyable than just finding a different way to say something you've already said.