Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Hot Chocolate - Going Through The Motions (1979)


  

Released in July 1979

TRACK LISTING

1. Going Through The Motions
2. I Just Love What You're Doing
3. Dreaming Of You
4. Dance (Get Down To It)
5. Mindless Boogie
6. Night Ride
7. Congas Man

In 1979, many artists were putting out disco albums - Elton John's "Victim Of Love"; ABBA's "Voulez Vous" spring to mind. Why, even The Rolling Stones had dabbled in it with "Miss You" from "Some Girls". Hot Chocolate had started their album career as a socially-aware funk/soul group, then morphed into a pop/soul outfit. This saw them going all Euro-disco, with only seven lengthy electronic keyboard-dominated numbers. Look, it is ok, but to be honest, as one who had all the group's previous albums, this really was a move in the wrong direction for me.

The title track is catchy enough, but it has a repetitive, electronic disco beat, vocal refrain and has nowhere near the appeal of the group's earlier material. It is certainly no "You Sexy Thing", "Emma", "Changing World" or "Man To Man". This is not really Hot Chocolate as I knew them. "I Just Love What You're Doing" continues in the same vein, admittedly with an infectious bass line and convincing vocal from Errol Brown, but it is pretty uninspiring stuff, really. Furthermore it goes on for six and a half minutes. Four minutes is more than enough. All those Giorgio Moroder-style synthesisers get a bit samey after a few minutes.

"Dreaming Of You" starts like a ballad from a stage musical and then morphs into some soft soul croonery. Again, for me, it does not come close to any of Hot Chocolate's balladry in the past. It is pretty poor, to be brutally honest. "Dance (Get Down To It)" has another captivating bass line and melody, but then those synthesisers take over and it all sounds somewhat mechanical. There are some great disco records around but unfortunately this is not one of them.

"Mindless Boogie" is undoubtedly the best track on the album, as the group rediscover their "Ball Of Confusion"-style social conscience and tell us what a state the world is in and that we should boogie our way out of it. Although it sounds a bit simplistic, it is actually a wry, cynical song. It does go on for eight minutes, however. The single edit is better. There is also some good guitar interjections on it and an addictive beat. "Night Ride" is thumping, slightly funky groover with a somewhat deliberately muffled vocal. Like the rest of the album's material, it gets into its synthesised groove and simply carries on. You would expect "Congas Man", by its title, to be a bit of a throwback to seventies tracks like "Funky Rock 'n' Roll" and "Makin' Music", and while there are hints of those tracks in its rhythmic sound, the metronomic disco beat overrides everything else and, surprisingly there are only a few bits of conga in it, near the end, which the best bit - the bass and conga interplay. Overall, as I said, there was a lot better disco material out there. "Going Through The Motions" was an unfortunately apt title.

C-

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