Sunday, 17 February 2019

Hot Chocolate - Love Shot (1983)


  

Released October 1983

This was it for Hot Chocolate. After over ten years of wonderful music - soulful, meaningful and poptastic when the need was there - you could tell that they had reached the end of their road, which was a great shame. A few more stand alone singles followed on after this and a couple more "Top Of The Pops" appearances couldn't disguise the fact that the group were starting to look distinctly like yesterday's men. This album pretty much stands as an example of what I have just said. It is pleasant enough, but it just seems a sad shadow of a once great (and underrated) group that were now (to use one of their song titles) - going through the motions.

TRACK LISTING

1. Sexy Caribbean Girl
2. Let's Try Again
3. Secret Hideaway
4. Tears On The Telephone
5. Jeannie
6. I'm Sorry
7. Friend Of Mine
8. Touch The Night
9. Love Is A Good Thing
10. I Gave You My Heart (Didn't I)            

"Sexy Caribbean Girl" is a poppy, commercial dance-ish number. Compared to previous material, it sounds somewhat undercooked, and Errol Brown's delivery is slightly unenthusiastic, or maybe that is just my imagination. "Let's Try Again" has a sad feel to its melody and vocal, although it struggles against the layers of synthesiser notes in its backing. It slow programmed beat is pretty uninspiring, to be honest. "Secret Hideaway" has an ABBA-esque tinge to its keyboard melody and a haunting tone to the vocal, but once more it sounds tired to me. I quite like the track, however, but there is just something very sad about the general ambience of the album. The songs seems to sum up the state the band were in. The latter track also ends in a strangely abrupt fashion, as if they simply got fed up of playing it.

I had been a Hot Chocolate fan since first hearing "Brother Louie" in 1973. I remember seeing them do the comparatively uninspiring "Tears On The Telephone" on "Top Of The Pops" at the time and feeling terribly underwhelmed. Although it was a minor hit single, it simply didn't cut the mustard in the way that their great hits from their halcyon days did. "Jeannie" is a low-key, melodic ballad that has a fetching feel to it, with a few echoes of the old days in Errol's vocal. There are hints of "It Started With A Kiss" (the group's last big hit) in it.

"I'm Sorry" is a sonorous, synthesiser-driven slow ballad that was very much of its time but it has a certain something. I quite like this one. "Friend Of Mine" has a delicious bass line similar to that used a few years later on Elton John's "Nikita". It is a sumptuous, soulful number that sort of washes ver you like a relaxing warm bath. Its subject matter - infidelity - shows that Hot Chocolate could still do a dark love song when the mood took them. "Touch The Night" is a slow burning soul groover with some contemporary smooth, keyboard-driven dance sounds to its backing. "Love Is A Good Thing"  is a standard, bassy soul late night offering. It doesn't offend in any way, but does it stay in the mind for long? Not really. The album, and, to all intents and purposes, Hot Chocolate's recording career, ends on a high point with the catchy, singalong "I Gave You My Heart (Didn't I)". You certainly did, Errol and the lads - thank you, sincerely.

It has given me no pleasure to write a slightly less than effusive review of this final album from a band that has given me so much pleasure for over forty-five years, but, unfortunately I have to write as I hear. It is definitely their worst offering. They had high standards, however.

C-

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