During the 1970s The Main Ingredient established itself as one of the top and most beloved vocal groups of the time. In 1972 the group's biggest hit, "Everybody Plays The Fool," peaked on the pop charts at #2 and became a worldwide hit. A string of Top 20 singles followed, including "You've Got To Take It (If You Want It)," "Happiness Is Just Around The Bend," and "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely," which sold over a million copies and reached the Pop Top 10. In 2004, Alicia Keys produced her smash hit, "You Don't Know My Name" around a sample of The Main Ingredient's "Let Me Prove My Love To You," confirming the group's sound as a cornerstone of soul some thirty years after the release of the original. Everybody Plays The Fool: The Best of The Main Ingredient features sixteen of the top songs from the Seventies soul era and reminds us why The Main Ingredient continue to be mainstays on soul radio stations around the world.
The Main Ingredient: Cuba Gooding, Donald McPherson, Tony Sylvester, Luther Simmons (vocals).
Liner Note Author: Ron Wynn.
Recording information: RCA Studios, New York, NY; RCA's Music Center Of The World, Hollywood, CA.
Arrangers: Rene Hall; Bert de Coteaux.
The Main Ingredient were one of the best smooth soul groups of the early '70s, but they've never been given much respect in terms of CD retrospectives. They were given two comps in 1990 -- Collectables' good but cheap Golden Classics and RCA's lengthier All Time Greatest Hits, which had more tunes but bad sound -- and in 1996 RCA issued Quiet Storm, a collection of their romantic ballads, but the group still needed a well-produced, remastered collection of their biggest hits. With RCA/Legacy's 2005 release Everybody Plays the Fool: The Best of the Main Ingredient they finally get that, and while it is three tracks shorter than the 19-track All Time Greatest Hits (which is now out of print), it's overall the better package. While this doesn't have every single charting hit the group had -- it's missing such smaller singles as "You Can Call Me Rover," "The Good Old Days," and "California My Way" (the latter two were on the 1990 CD), as well as their first charting single ("I'm Better Off Without You," 1970) and last ("Shame on the World," 1976) -- it does have all the big hits, such as "Everybody Plays the Fool," "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely," "Rolling Down a Mountainside," "I'm So Proud," "You've Been My Inspiration," and "Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)." The sound is excellent, as are the liner notes from Ron Wynn, making this disc the closest thing yet to a definitive Main Ingredient collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine