Richard Jobson’s dancing makes me think of him as the Elaine Benes of Post-Punk.
I once saw Errol Brown coming out of the Gents in a trendy Soho bar in the late 1980s and, while thinking he was shorter than I’d imagined, I just gave him a very cool smile as he walked past me while inside I was all “FUCKING HELL, IT’S ERROL BROWN!” because here was the man behind so many beloved pop hits of my youth — which is why his death upset me more than I imagined it would. While they were only modestly successful elsewhere, Hot Chocolate were a pop institution in the UK, having at least one hit every year between 1970 and 1984. With his distinctive bald head, Brown was as familiar a face on Top of The Pops as the DJs, one of the few regular black singers on the show who wasn’t American.
Hot Chocolate were a difficult band to pin down. Their records contained elements of soul, pop, glam, funk, dub, and psychedelia — sometimes all at once thanks to the production magic of Mickie Most. What linked some of them together however was a surprising bleakness, singles like “Emma” and “Brother Louie” are pretty grim for pop hits your mum probably liked, and even a love song like “Put Your Love In Me” has an edge of dark desperation about it.
They were such a singles band they didn’t release their debut album Cicero Park until several years into their hit-making career in 1974, and shockingly it was a flop despite containing the hit “Emma” and being a terrific album in it’s own right. The title track in particular is a fabulous piece of moody Blaxploitation soul-funk. If Curtis Mayfield had made this record it would hailed as a classic.
Download: Cicero Park – Hot Chocolate (mp3)
Yes, it’s a cute kid video. I’ll be posting pictures of kittens next week.
This was one of my mum’s favourite records and I love it too. The audience in this clip don’t seem too bothered about it though, especially the bloke with the beard who seems more interested in drinking beer and having a fag.
I have this track in my iTunes library and I can’t remember where the hell I got it from. Whoever it was I’d like to thank them because it’s a fabulous record.
Penny Goodwin was a soul singer from Milwaukee who released her only album Portrait of a Gemini on a local label in 1974. Only 2,000 copies were pressed and, as is usual in these stories, it remained obscure until discovered by crate-diggers who elevated it to cult status with the subsequent rare prices for an original copy. Thankfully it’s been reissued and you can get a copy for a price within the reach of sane people.
“Too Soon You’re Old” is an anti-drug song with a righteous jazzy-soul vibe very much like the records Marlena Shaw was making at the same time. Enjoy.
Download: Too Soon You’re Old – Penny Goodwin (mp3)
If you look up “1970s Rock-Chick Style” in the dictionary you’ll see this picture of Stevie Nicks which is pretty much the Platonic ideal of it – at least the pre-punk kind — right down to the muscle car she’s sitting on.
“Silver Springs” is a song Nicks wrote for Rumours but it got cut for space reasons (the limitations of vinyl) and ended up as the b-side of “Go Your Own Way”. She was apparently pissed off about that and I’m not surprised as it’s a great song, but what would you take out to make room for it?
This version is from the expanded reissue of Rumours.
Download: Silver Springs (Outtake) – Fleetwood Mac (mp3)
Prog Rock isn’t quite the uncool evil it once was but I’m still of the conventional post-Punk opinion that it’s mostly too noodly, complicated, and plain silly at times. But when they reign in their indulgences and keep it pop-song length it can be quite magical like this.
Edited out of this clip is the bit at the end when the men in white coats come to take Peter Gabriel away.
Give this a minute to get going and it’s quite fantastic. Blows the studio version out of the water which is saying something because I like that a lot.