This 2000 greatest hits set is by no means a definitive compilation. Greatest Hits: The Encore Collection has a scant ten tracks and runs 35-plus minutes. This set, like the previous ones, collects work from two distinctly different versions of the group. With first lead singer Donald McPherson, the group fashioned sad ballads due to McPherson's light tenor. Tracks like "You've Been My Inspiration" and "Spinning Around" typify the skilled though depressing ballads they proffered at the time. This set also includes the almost forgotten track "The Girl I Left Behind." With McPherson's death, the Main Ingredient signed up a new lead singer, the charismatic Cuba Gooding. Greatest Hits: The Encore Collection includes the highlights and big chart successes from 1972-1973, including classics "Everybody Plays the Fool" and "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely." With the switch to Gooding, who brought out the group's patented high-pitched harmonies, the Main Ingredient became even more established balladeers of the highest order. On two Stevie Wonder covers "Where Were You When I Needed You" and the masterful "Girl Blue," Gooding does amazing work on the well-produced and adventurous tracks. Greatest Hits stops the retrospective at 1974, so later tracks "Rolling Down a Mountainside" and "Instant Love" aren't included here. This effort isn't as skilled or as extensive as the 1991 set, All Time Greatest Hits, but it may have enough of what a listener is looking for.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Elias