Ironically titled “Hot”, this album, except for a few cuts, is not, but instead marks the beginning of James Brown’s long downhill slide that will take up the rest of his career. At this point, there was really no where else for James to go but down. His successes from the 60s into the early 70s made him one of the most energetic, creative and visionary artists in the pop/RnB/rock field, and his wide reaching influence was topped only by Hendrix and the Beatles. Its hard for any artist to burn bright for ever, and “Hot” is evidence of that.
It’s a strange mish-mash that makes up this thrown together album. Side one opens with title song, “Hot”, which is basically a direct lift of David Bowie and Carlos Alomar’s famous “Fame” riff retooled to sound like James and his group. Some are critical of this one, but it hits a solid groove. This is followed by a couple older pop songs updated for no particular reason other than to fill up an album. They’re not bad tracks really, but hardly great either. Track three, “Try Me”, is a terrible update of one of James’ classic ballads. The orchestration is sweet simple corn syrup that would be a better fit on a children’s album or something by Rick Wakeman. Side one closes with some bizarre psychedelic funk that would be alright except that there are these incidental vocal noises that are mixed too loud.
Side two starts strong with the classic funk of “Woman”, easily the best track on the album. The rest of side two is made up of more pop re-makes, some better than others. The best of these is “Most of All”, a doo-wop flavored tune with sophisticated jazzy orchestrations and interesting time change-ups, it also features some of James' best vocals on the album. The re-make of Brown's classic “Please, Please, Please”, seems unnecessary, but at least the arrangement is not near as bad as the previous “Try Me”.
There are a few tracks on here that James Brown fans will want to pick up, but almost any previous James Brown album is better than this one. Unfortunately, James will continue the rest of his career in less than stellar fashion, but fortunately, that will in no way tarnish the best of his early work.