The Main Ingredient Are BACK
Last night Sunday (Aug 12, 2001) I had the distinct pleasure of spending 4 hours (10 pm – 2am est) just hanging out with the LEGENDARY Main Ingredient.
Now as most of you know, the Main Ingredient is one of my all time favorite groups and "Afrodesiac" is one of my all time favorite "3am FUNK" albums.
The reason for the meeting was an invitation from Soul-Patrol.Net Radio’s (www.soul-patrol.net) own "Will Chill" (MASTER OF THE SLOW JAMS) to be an in studio guest during his MARATHON 4 hour interview/listening party that he held on the air last night during his Sunday night Oldies show, broadcast locally here in South Jersey over WBZC 88.9 & 95.1 FM and over the internet at www. (www.wbzc.org).
I arrived at the studio around 9:45 (with my raggedy copies of the "Afrodesiac" and "Euphrates River" LP’s….lol) and was warmly greeted by the leader and originator of the Main Ingredient Mr. Tony Silvester, new lead singer Carlton Blount (more on that later), producer/part owner of Magnatar Records (more on that later) Mr Yusef Shabazz, Magnatar Records VP Mr Thomas Anderson, and of course our own "Chill Will" (MASTER OF THE SLOW JAMS).
(The third ORIGINAL member of the Main Ingrdient, Luther Simmons was in California and wasn’t with us)
The show started off with "Will Chill" playing the song "I’m So Proud" and then the group getting into a discussion about how they came to record the song, with Tony telling us how Curtis Mayfield told him after hearing the Main Ingredient’s version of "I’m So Proud" describing their version as being SUPERIOR to the Impressions version (which I also agree with).
Tony then went on to describe how the group first got started with original members Luther Simmons, the late Donald McPherson and himself on 116th St "in the village of Harlem", starting out in the mid 1960’s as "The Poets" and then later as the "Insiders", on the Red Bird label, working with Lieber and Stoller. Tony said that the artists who influenced the main Ingrident were people like the Hi Lo’s, Johnny Mathis, Four Freshman, Impressions, and of course the sustaining influence of DOO WOP!
Tony described for us in the studio and the listening audience how the three of them would spend time writing songs and practicing their harmonies (and making NO MONEY).
Eventually the group got signed to RCA records and put out a string of MONSTER "blue light in the basement" hits like "You’ve Been My Inspiration", "Spinning Around", "I’m So Proud" and more.
It was after this period of time that Donald McPherson passed away and Tony described the process of how he has "evolved" the group several different times , with each evolution resulting in a different sound for the Main Ingredient.
After Donald McPherson passed, it was a "natural" to bring Cuba Gooding into the group, since he had grown up with the original 3 Main Ingredient’s.
The entrance of Cuba Gooding into the picture was but one change in the evolution of the Main Ingredient.
The other major new element introduced was Tony’s decision to make certain that the very next Main Ingredient LP would be entirely composed of songs that had been written by Stevie Wonder. An added bonus was that Tony was able to convince Stevie to actually work with the group on the new LP.
That LP turned in to the album that we know today as the HIGHLY EROTIC & SENSUAL "Afrodesiac"!
As we all sat in the studio, completely memorized by Tony’s "history lesson", my man "Will Chill" was playing as many of the classic Main Ingredient cuts from their peak.
Here are some of the key points that Tony brought out during the interview segments.
– "Afrodesiac" was completed during a marathon working session with Stevie Wonder over the course of just several days in a NYC hotel
– The influence of the late, GREAT Ronnie Dyson on the song "Just Don’t Wanna Be Lonely"
– How the Main Ingredient came to cover the song "Happiness is Just Around The Bend" from Brian Augar and introduce "jazz-funk" to the R&B charts
– The great musicians who played on the Main Ingredient LP’s such as Chuck Rainey, Bernard "Pretty" Purddie and others
– After some cajoling, Tony admitted that the song "Black Seeds Keep on Growing" was the Main Ingredient song that touched him the most
I also want you to know that in addition to his wonderful career as a singer, Tony Silvester has produced DOZENS of legendary artists such as, Prince, Herbie Hancock, Donny Hathaway, Luther Vandross, Albert King, Rick James and more
The inevitable question about the whereabouts of Cuba Gooding came up and here is what Tony told the listening audience.
"Cuba wanted to leave the Main Ingredient to pursue a solo career as well as an acting career, he left the group with our blessings and support. I just spoke with Cuba the other day on the phone."
"When Donald died, Cuba didn’t try to replace him, because they had different styles. I had to reinvent the Main Ingredient when Donald passed away and now with Cuba going off to do other projects, I had to once again reinvent the Main Ingredient with Carlton Blount as our lead singer."
My assessment of the career of the Main Ingredient is that they have always been "cutting edge innovators":
Here are some examples.
Making the transition from "slow jam group" to "erotic funk" to jazz funk", they made Black radio change, each time they came out with a new style
Their album covers, featuring STRONG and PROUD Black females were revolutionary during it’s time
Album covers featuring the symbolism of "red, black and green"
People went wild last year over D’Angelo just because he appears shirtless on the album cover for "Voodoo", well that’s nothing new, the Main Ingredient were doing that THIRTY YEARS AGO!!!
When I mentioned this to the radio audience, Tony Silvester was sitting there smiling
Anyhow..(I’m tired of typing right now)