Panel by Ogden Whitney from Herbie the Fat Fury comic book #11, August 1965
The '70s was a weird time, but there's no arguing that it was a decade that knew a little something about "hot love". In 1971, T. Rex put out their song "Hot Love" as a non-album single, and it became a UK #1 hit. Following on the heels of another great T. Rex single, "Ride a White Swan", the two singles make a good case for the band having peaked sometime between their self-titled album and Electric Warrior. It's a weird single in some ways, starting with a distinctive flutter of strings over handclaps and gradually building up a salacious energy that ends with an interminable repetition of its "La la la la la la la" chorus. Did I get the right number of "la"s there? At 4:59, you could argue that the song could have been faded out about a minute earlier to make a more concise pop statement, but there's something powerful in the singalong invitation of that endless, stupid refrain.
In 1977, Cheap Trick released its debut record, which is said by many to have ushered in the "new wave" sound the way T. Rex conjured glam rock from thin air six years earlier. Rick Nielsen approached songwriting as a fan of rock as much as anything, so I'd guess that it was no coincidence that they started the second side of Cheap Trick with a song called "Hot Love". Apparently, when the album was first released on CD years later, "Hot Love" was made the opening track by mistake - a terrible mistake considering that "ELO Kiddies" is the perfect opening statement for that album. I'll admit that I like the two albums that followed Cheap Trick's debut a lot, but I have some issues with the production of this record. The sound is a little too scuzzy, I think, and it doesn't serve the songs well. "Hot Love" is actually a good example of this, with a great riff and fun melody colliding in a muddy sound that rushes past without making much of an impression until things change up a little on the bridge, which is easily the highlight of the song. The outro is nice as well, but it would have sounded a lot better with the cleaner production of Heaven Tonight.
Winner: T. REX
"Hot Love" by Cheap Trick
"Hot Love" by T. Rex