Classics: The Main Ingredient – Black Seeds Keep On Growing (RCA)
The opening cut to their 1971 ‘Black Seeds’ album, ‘Black Seeds Keep On Growing’ makes no mystery of its meaning. A Black empowerement theme with uplifting lyrics coinciding with what the Afro-American community was goin’ thru at the time.
That said, comin’ up with a cut like ‘Black Seeds Keep On Growing’ happened to be quite a challenge. And even more for a band who’d started makin’ themselves a name with whispery love ballads.
As a result, kinda hard to not see some connection with The Temptations after they started collaborating with producer Norman Whiftield. And this, not only because this drastic change in their repertoire. But also when referring to Bert DeCoteaux‘s production work on ‘Black Seeds Keep On Growing’. Thus givin’ it, just like Whitfield happened to do with The Temptations, some infectious psychedelic feel in terms of arrangements.
Sadly enough, Doug McPhearson who wrote ‘Black Seeds Keep On Growing’ never saw it in the charts. Dying of leukemia a few weeks before the release of the album. Then soon after replaced by Cuba Gooding, Sr.
The Main Ingredient formed in Harlem, NY back in 1964. This as a trio called The Poets, comprising lead singer Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Tony ‘Panama’ Silvester. They eventually changed their name to The Insiders at some time. Then once again, four years later, to The Main Ingredient. With Cuba Gooding replacing McPhearson soon after his death from leukomia, in 1971.
The Main Ingredient first made themselves a name with whispery love ballads. They would make quite a sensation back in 1971. This with
‘Black Seeds Keep On Growing’, the opening cut from their ‘Black Seeds’ album, teaming up with producer Bert DeCoteaux (Crown Heights Affair). A song which Donald McPhearson had penned as a matter of fact, ‘Black Seeds Keep On Growing’ stands as a Black Power anthem. Even though comin’ up on a faster tempo. Alas McPherson never saw it in the charts, dying of leukemia a few weeks before the release of the album. He would from then on be replaced by Cuba Gooding, Sr.…
The Main Ingredient would score their biggest success a few months later. This with the million-selling smash ‘Everybody Plays The Fool’ which Aaron Neville eventually took for mhimself in 1991. Meanwhile, their cover version of Ronnie Dyson‘s ‘Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely’ would turn up to be another jackpot from them. Itself appearing as a part of their 1974 ‘Euphrates River’ album. That same album seeing them flirting with (early) Disco vibes with the magnetic ‘Happiness Is Just Around The Bend’. A cut which Cuba Gooding covered 9 years later on his own, with production work by the likes of Arthur Baker.
By 1975, The Main Ingredient opened their ‘Rolling Down A Mountainside’ album with its title cut. A beautiful gem co-written by Leon Ware featuring luminaries such as Ray Parker on guitar and Harvey Mason on drums. Not to mention Joe Sample on piano. And, back then, Tony Silvester, who had solo ambitions, released an album by the likes of ‘Magic Touch’. Eventually leavin’ the band that same year to focus on the production company he’d formed with Bert DeCoteaux. The twosome leavin’ their signature on ‘Love Don’t You Go Through No Changes On Me’ for Sister Sledge by the end of 1974. But also on the firing ‘Supernatural Thing’ for Ben E. King in 1975 among many others.
Silvester was replaced by Carl Tompkins. Meanwhile Gooding departed for a solo career on Motown in 1977, with the latter resulting in two albums. However, Gooding, Silvester and Simmons reunited as The Main Ingredient in 1979 and recorded two more albums.
Something had probably gone though as The Main Ingredient slowly but surely disappeared from the radars from then. Eventually comin’ through extra changes in their line-ups.
Tony Silvester sadly died after a six-year struggle with multiple myeloma on Nov. 26, 2006, at the age of 65. Then original member Luther Simmons retired shortly thereafter.
One week before his 73rd birthday, on Apr. 20, 2017, Cuba Gooding, Sr. was found dead in his car while parked on a street in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. CPR was performed by the fire department although without success. An autopsy determined soon after he’d died of natural causes.