Brotherly Love: The Rca Anthology / The Main Ingredient
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Digitally remastered two CD collection. As part of it's acclaimed anthology series, SoulMusic Records is very proud to present Brotherly Love - The RCA Anthology, a superb set that traces the musical journey of The Main Ingredient, one of the premier vocal groups of the '70s and '80s. This 41-track anthology, lovingly compiled by David Nathan (who interviewed the group many times throughout the '70s), includes all of their charted RCA singles and classic LP favorites, along with rarities including two Luther Vandross-penned songs ('What Can A Miracle Do' and 'Party People').
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This stellar soul harmony group from Harlem was by far RCA's leading soul act. At the outset, they were clearly emulating the currently very popular Philly soul (soft-soul) sound, as well as the new edgier sound of the Temptations, injecting social messages (especially upbeat and hopeful ones) into the latter. With the premature death of their co-founding lead singer Donald McPherson, the group's sound changed dramatically due to the presence of his replacement, Cuba Gooding (Sr.), and his extremely flexible, husky and commanding voice and clear, pinpoint phrasing.
The immediate result was their biggest hit ever, "Everybody Plays the Fool," which went all the way to #1 pop on two of the three recognized national charts at the time. It also rose to #2 soul after a belated start due to many urban soul-music radio stations initially refusing to play it because it sounded more pop than soul to their program directors. (They were actually on to something: it was originally intended as a country song for Charley Pride, but was rejected.) This single was irresistible in every way possible (definitely to me: I went out and got it after about three listens on the radio): the arrangement, the overall production, the lyrics, the hooks, the groove and the stellar vocals.
While the group could never again quite match this phenomenal level of success, they were back in the Top Ten, both soul and pop, a year and a half later with the similarly midtempo, hook-laden "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely," which had been a mid-level hit just months before for Ronnie Dyson. This was followed up by the wonderfully optimistic "Happiness Is Just Around the Bend," a brilliantly adapted pop-soul cover of a recent Brian Auger song. It went to #7 soul but proved to be their final Top 40 pop entry. Their next big soul hit (which also peaked at #7), 1975's "Rolling Down the Mountainside," could do no better than #80 on one of the national pop charts.
The only track I don't care for is the closer: the mindless, five-minutes-long and instantly forgettable slice of disco-funk, "Party People." Unfortunately, a number of the great traditional soul acts of the '60s and '70s - by the late '70s/early '80s - felt compelled to stoop to the lowest-common-denominator tastes because that was what was selling with the younger ("Soul Train"-watching) crowd.
The sound mastering is flawless; and the 24-page booklet, which features an extensive and informative essay by Charles Waring, as well as record credits and other discographical details, is very worthwhile, despite being mostly photo-free inside. The two pages of color label scans are pointless, given that each label is reduced to an illegibly tiny one inch in diameter.
The Main Ingredient's Top Ten soul/pop crossover hits (peak national chart positions given):
- "EVERYBODY PLAYS THE FOOL" (1972)
[#1 pop in Cash Box and Record World / #2 in Billboard // #2 soul]
- "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely" (1974) #7 pop / #8 soul
orig-Ronnie Dyson (1973) #29 soul / #58 pop]
- "Happiness Is Just Around the Bend" (1974) #7 soul / #26 pop
- "Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)" (1971) #7 soul / #35 pop
- "Rolling Down a Mountainside" (1975) #7 soul / #80 pop
- "I'm So Proud" ('70-71) #13 soul / #31 pop
[wr-Curtis Mayfield / orig-The Impressions (1964) #2 soul / #14 pop]
- "Black Seeds Keep on Growing" (1971) #15 soul / #74 pop
- "You've Got to Take It (If You Want It)" (1973) #18 soul / #37 pop
- "Shame on the World" ('75-76) #20 soul / #110 pop
- "You've Been My Inspiration" (1970) #25 soul / #46 pop