The Main Ingredient —“Magic Shoes”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — September 17, 2022


584) The Main Ingredient — “Magic Shoes”

Glorious B-side and track from the MI’s second LP. Don’t play the fool, put on your magic shoes and listen to this one! Phyl Garland got it exactly right in Ebony:

On their second album release they are mature, polished and ready. . . . Here is a truly beautiful sound. Not since The Impressions have three male voices been combined to create such a smooth and intimate total effect. . . . Their roots are as firmly planted in contemporary pop ballads as R&B while their offerings are rounded off with the special touch of their own style . . . They sing with such ease and unity that music seems to flow through them as they become one with it.

And Funk My Soul nailed it too:

What can I say about one of the most soulful records I’ve ever heard? . . . Overall a great set of Bert DeCoteaux arrangements and a totally sweet soul harmony sound. The arrangements are nice and airy, with lots of smooth sweeping passages that let the vocals float around effortlessly. One of the greatest Sweet Soul groups ever.

Steve Huey tells the story:

The Main Ingredient toiled in obscurity for the better part of the ’60s before making it big as a sweet, romantic soul outfit with a particular flair for ballads. . . . The group was formed in Harlem in 1964 as a trio called the Poets, composed of lead singer Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Panama-born Tony Silvester. They . . . soon changed their name to the Insiders . . . . After a couple of singles, they changed their name once again in 1968, this time permanently, to the Main Ingredient. Nothing much happened until the[y] hooked up with producer Bert DeCoteaux, who had an excellent sense of the lush, orchestrated direction soul music would take in the early ’70s. Under his direction, the Main Ingredient reached the R&B Top 30 for the first time in 1970 with “You’ve Been My Inspiration.” Things grew steadily from there; a cover of the Impressions’ “I’m So Proud” broke the Top 20, and “Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)” went Top Ten. They scored again with the McPherson-penned Black power anthem “Black Seeds Keep on Growing,” but tragedy struck in 1971: McPherson, who had suddenly taken ill with leukemia, passed away unexpectedly. Stunned, Silvester and Simmons regrouped with new lead singer, Cuba Gooding, Sr., who’d served as a backing vocalist on some of their previous recordings and had filled in on tour during McPherson’s brief illness. The Gooding era began auspiciously enough with the million-selling smash “Everybody Plays the Fool,” which hit number two R&B and number three pop to become the group’s biggest hit ever.

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