The Main Ingredient

Shame on the World/I Only Have Eyes for You

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This two-fer from the Expansion label collects a pair of long out of print and entirely average LPs from the sweet soul trio the Main Ingredient. The 1975 effort Shame on the World heralded the end of their commercial heyday -- the title cut proved their final chart hit of note as the group struggled to reconcile the confectionary harmony soul approach of their previous records with the slicker, tighter sound dominating black radio in the mid-'70s. Wisely, the album sidesteps funk and disco formulas in favor of a sophisticated, mature sound that underscores the authority of their harmonies -- Cuba Gooding and Luther Simmons assume producing and arranging duties (with some assistance from Rene Hall), and the end result is polished but never sterile. But the material is woefully inadequate, and even the most exquisite harmonies can't bring to life clunkers like "Old Greyhound" and "Lillian." Issued in 1981, I Only Have Eyes for You pairs the trio with producer Patrick Adams, but Adams' signature club aesthetic is nowhere to be found here -- instead the album embraces a sophisticated, quiet storm-inspired approach that restores the group's harmonies front and center. When the formula works, as on the chart hit "Evening of Love," the album evokes the Main Ingredient's classic RCA LPs from a decade earlier, but Adams relies too much on midtempo grooves that never quite catch fire. Moreover, much of the material is tepid at best: The title cut, an updated version of the Flamingos' doo wop masterpiece, sounds far fresher and more immediate than anything else here.

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