THE MAIN INGREDIENT: LTD/Black Seeds (SoulMusic/Real Gone)

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The Main Ingredient were a second tier male harmony group from New York City. Connoisseurs of that genre though revere the band for a slew of classy albums that graced the 70s and two of those LPs have just won reissue via the collaborative efforts of Soul Music Records and Real Gone Music. The sets in question are the group’s RCA debut from 1970, ‘LTD and ’71’s ‘Black Seeds’.

‘LTD’ takes its name from the initials of the trio’s forenames – Luther Simmons, Tony Sylvester and Donald McPherson who was the group’s lead voice and an accomplished songwriter. The 10 tracker contained the group’s breakthrough hit, the dreamy ballad ‘You’ve Been My Inspiration’ – which featured a sweet lead from McPherson beautifully supported by the harmonies of Sylvester and Simmons. It’s a classic seventies ballad and it still retains all its charm. The album’s other cuts combined the group’s s earlier unsuccessful singles and some well-tried covers like a version of the Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ and a medley of Jimmy Webb’s ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’. Also of note is a beautiful J R Bailey ballad – ‘The Girl I Left Behind’.

‘Black Seeds’ was the Main Ingredient’s third RCA long player (‘Tasteful Soul’ was their second) and in many ways it’s the group’s most poignant album. In 1971 McPherson was diagnosed with leukaemia but he was determined to continue to make music and the songs he assembled for ‘Back Seeds’ show a new maturity and insightfulness that transcend the normal boy meets girl scenario. The album’s title cut is a case in point – ditto ‘Why Can’t We All Unite’. The sweet romance was still in evidence though – with a number of great ballads like ‘I’m Leaving This Time’ and ‘Baby Change Your Mind’.

Donald McPherson sadly died in July 1971 and ‘Black Seeds’ was dedicated to his memory. His place in the group was taken by Cuba Gooding Snr (a long-time friend of the group) and the trio went onto bigger success before going their own ways. They briefly reunited in 1980 and today Gooding leads a revamped Main ingredient (without Simmons who has retired and Sylvester who passed in 2007).

The two LPs on this “twofer” represent the first phase of the Main Ingredient’s career and though lighter on the hits than some of their later efforts, the connoisseurs we mentioned up top will tell you that they are every bit as good and maybe more soulful because of Macpherson’s unique input.

(BB) 4/5