Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

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When Hot Chocolate's first album, Cicero Park, came out in 1974, the majority of American soul fans didn't even know that it existed. But the band received more attention in the U.S. the following year, when this self-titled sophomore effort was released and the playful "You Sexy Thing" became a major hit. Many of the Americans who heard "You Sexy Thing" on either soul or pop/Top 40 radio bought the single but passed on the Hot Chocolate LP, and that's regrettable because the Brits' second album has a lot going for it. Hot Chocolate isn't perfect -- this LP isn't devoid of filler, but the material is solid more often than not. Except for "You Sexy Thing," the album's best tracks are its message songs. Thoughtful, reflective offerings like "A Child's Prayer," "The Street," and "Dollar Sign" explore the sociopolitical territory that Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Donny Hathaway had been exploring, except that Hot Chocolate bring a British perspective to the table. On "Amazing Skin Song," lead vocalist Errol Brown sings from the perspective of a black man who is in love with a white woman and refuses to let racism on the part of either blacks or whites keep him from being with her. Those who heard "You Sexy Thing" on the radio thought of Hot Chocolate as a lighthearted group, but most of the time, this is a very serious-minded album.

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