Cicero Park

by: Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate's albums tended to be mildly uneven -- typically, a Hot Chocolate LP would have its share of five-star gems as well as some filler. That is definitely the case with Cicero Park, the British soulsters' debut album of 1974. Not everything on this vinyl LP is great, but more often than not, Cicero Park is quite promising. The more impressive tracks range from the somber title song and the Curtis Mayfield-influenced "Could Have Been Born in the Ghetto" to the funky, infectious "Disco Queen" and the original version of a song that the Stories' brought to the top of the charts in America, "Brother Louie" (which tackles the subject of interracial romance and finds a half-black, half-white couple being confronted with racism). "Emma" is a real treasure, although a depressing one. Combining Brit-rock and soul, this tear-jerker is sung from the perspective of a man whose sweetheart, an aspiring actress, ends up committing suicide. Cicero Park received very little attention in the U.S., although the Brits who bought the record agreed that Hot Chocolate had a lot of potential. ~ Alex Henderson

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