Hot Chocolate, originally released in 1971 on Coco Records, was recorded by a trio comprised of Tony Roberson (drums), George Pickett (bass), and lead singer/guitarist Lou Ragland. Ragland recorded a handful of singles for various recording entities in Cleveland and also served as Saru Records' A&R director and main producer prior to former O'Jays' Bobby Massey assuming the duties. If you like elaborate productions, you'll find this collection crude and garage-esque, but to many the sparse instrumentation gives it charm and flavor. This is pure heart: raw funk-soul done on a mini-budget, reminiscent of New Orleans funkmeisters the Meters. The selections feature funkers and dancefloor items like "Ain't That a Groove" and "What You Want to Do"; the instrumental "Messin' With Sly" with the band vamping to "Sing a Simple Song"; and the two wailers "We Had True Love" and "What Should I Do," the latter which Ragland released in 1974 on SMH Records as a solo venture. Ballads are Ragland's forte; his rendition of "Never Let Me Go" on Way Out Records (1964) is still to be cherished. The cover depicts the trio hot tubbing in a cup of hot chocolate with Ragland and Pickett holding their guitars. An original copy on Coco (only 500 were pressed) is worth plenty in collectors' circles.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Hamilton