Deep Dive: Hot Chocolate, BOX SELECTION
If you lived in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, then you’re almost certainly familiar with the band Hot Chocolate, who were rarely off the UK Singles chart during the former decade and were still making regular appearances in the early part of the latter decade. These days, Hot Chocolate’s career in the US has been simplified by the media to such a degree that you’d be hard pressed to realize that “You Sexy Thing” wasn’t their only big hit. That’s why we’ve taken a look back at BOX SELECTION, a collection of the band’s eight albums on RAK Records, and shined a spotlight on some of the songs that you might’ve forgotten.
CICERO PARK (1974) – Hot Chocolate had a major career advantage by the time they released their debut album: they’d spent the previous half-decade releasing singles, three of which – “Love is Life,” “I Believe (In Love),” and “Brother Louie” – were top-10 hits in the UK. As a result, they were very much on everyone’s radar when CICERO PARK hit record store shelves, which might well be why the album’s first single, “Emma,” became the band’s biggest success to date, hitting #3 on the UK Singles chart and #8 in the US. Other notable songs include “Changing World” and “Disco Queen,” with the latter hitting #11 in the UK and #28 in the US. Too bad the album itself didn’t actually chart, but you have to figure that even the band’s fans had to get into the habit of expecting a Hot Chocolate album.
HOT CHOCOLATE (1975) – If the band could be said to have had a US breakthrough, then it came courtesy of their self-titled sophomore album, which featured the immortal single “You Sexy Thing,” which hit #2 in the UK and #3 in the US. This time, fans remembered that there was more to Hot Chocolate than their singles and sent the album to #34 on the UK Albums chart and #41 on the Billboard 200. The band scored another UK top-10 hit with “A Child’s Prayer,” but the song didn’t chart at all in America. D’oh! The US missed out: HOT CHOCOLATE was arguably the most consistent album of the band’s career.
MAN TO MAN (1976) – Although Hot Chocolate’s third album wasn’t as big a success in the States as its predecessor had been, the band almost crawled back into the top 40 with “Don’t Stop It Now,” which made it to #42. The song also hit #11 in the UK, and the band scored further hits with the album’s title track (#14) and “Heaven Is in the Back Seat of My Cadillac” (#25).
EVERY 1’S A WINNER (1978) – This was the album that helped Hot Chocolate transition into superstar status in the UK, thanks to the title track (#12), “Put Your Love in Me” (#10), and the chart-topping “So You Win Again.” In fact, that title track actually found the band back in the US top 10, with “So You Win Again” making it to #31. Not bad.
GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS (1979) – You have to give Hot Chocolate credit for unabashedly providing critics with an album title that doubled as a review if the critics weren’t particularly fond of the material. Based on the chart performance of the singles “Mindless Boogie” and “Going Through the Motions,” neither of which made it into the top 40, it’s possible that Hot Chocolate were attempting a self-fulfilling prophecy. Still, they soldiered onward.
CLASS (1980) – In the wake of GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS, Hot Chocolate managed to pull off a comeback with the single “No Doubt About It,” which hit #2 in the UK, and then scored another top-20 hit with “Are You Getting Enough of What Makes You Happy” (#17). Unfortunately, CLASS apparently didn’t give the fans enough of what made them happy, since only one single charted – “Love Me to Sleep” – and it got no higher in the UK than #50. (Ironic sidebar: “Are You Getting Enough of What Makes You Happy” was the last time Hot Chocolate troubled the Hot 100.)
MYSTERY (1982) – The mystery in this case was the same one which had plagued Hot Chocolate repeatedly over the years: why did their fortunes go up and down so dramatically? Fortunately, they were up on this album, earning two top-10 singles (“Girl Crazy” and “It Started with a Kiss”).
LOVE SHOT (1983) – This might have been the last in Hot Chocolate’s albums for RAK Records, but at least they left the label still successful in the charts, with “I Gave You My Heart (Didn’t I)” providing them with another top-20 single when it climbed to #13 in the UK.