Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Hot Chocolate - Don't Stop It Now (1976/ No. 11/ 8 weeks/ RAK)

Don't remember this one? Then you should get a decent Hot Chocolate Greatest Hits. I'm sure that you'd enjoy it. Ideally 1979's 20 Hottest Hits on vinyl, the one with the enormous lipgloss female mouth provocatively balancing a Malteezer on her tongue on the sleeve. Hearing all of the hits - major and minor - in chronological order makes you realise what an underrated songwriter Erroll Brown was, and what a crafty pop brain he always had.

A lot of the appeal - and instantly recognisible Hot Chocolate sound - of Don't Stop It Now comes from the group trying out elements that had worked before, or that they would go on to use again. Specifically the bassline of 'You Sexy Thing' - both tense and playful, the joyous riff of 'Every 1's A Winner' and the stateliness of the strings from 'Love Is Life'. What worked in other songs goes on to work here, but in a way that's just different enough to stop you from thinking about other Hot Chocolate songs when you hear it.

What was unique to Hot Chocolate was Erroll Brown's voice, of course, one of the most convincing expressions of stuck-his-wet-fingers-in-the-electricity-socket sexual restlessness in pop. There's an odd simultaneous reading that happens when I hear him sing, in that he conveys both a jolly suaveness and absolute sensual excitation. This excitement can go either way in a song: in bad times, frustration, and in good times, tremulous relief. Occasionally, a rather odd gloating element breaks through; Sexy thing's "Now you're lyin' next to me, GIVIN' IT TO MEEEE!" always sounds self-satisfied to me, and 'Are You Gettin' Enough Happiness?' must be the single worst record in the world to listen to if you're feeling lonely.

'Don't Stop It Now' is a textbook example of these concerns in action

Your lips -
are warmer than a fire
Just on burnin' kiss
fills me - with desire!
And it would drive me maaad!
if you should stop it now
'Cause I never ever had
a love like this before.

The double-edged sword of having it and being anxious not to lose it. The much-repeated chorus encapsulates this feeling;

Keeeep on givin' it to meee!
'Cause I'm madda' boutchya' darlin' -
Don't stop it now!

Some rather pleasant bongos underscore this, keeping the mood sensual rather than desperate. This song does go somewhere, though. Something remarkable happens in the last 20 seconds, as the combined pleasure and anxiety reaches a climax;

Waaah haaa-aaah!
Waaah haaa-aaah!
Waaah haaa-aaAH!
Waaah haaah-aaagh!

It's a fun and cordial song, but that holler of release would fit brilliantly into any classic metal track.

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