Lou Ragland watched as the soul vocal groups from the mid 1960s were changing into the self comtained bands that could mix funk, soul, and rock. He decided to form his own band with him as lead singer and guitarist, a band that could play the eastside R&B clubs and the downtown rock clubs. Hot Chocolate was that band. The band started a trto, with George Perkins on bass and Tony Roberson on drums.
They recorded an LP of all original songs at Agency Recording and had it pressed at Boddie. The LP is consistenly strong from start to finish and has joined the club of great privately pressed LPs from NE Ohio. The cover cartoon was drawn by Dick Dugan, a long time cartoonist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who is credited with creating the 'brownie' for the Cleveland Browns. Lou created the CoCo Cleveland label (CoCo = Hot Chocolate) for the LP and kept it for future releases
Later in 1971 they recorded "Good For the Gander" and released it as a 45 backed a song from the LP. There are two pressings, as explained by Lou and the Boddie paperwork, the white labels were for local distribution and the yellow labels for national distribution. The 45 mentions a second LP which was never released.
In 1973 they released two more 45s. The first one was issued on Warner Brothers records, thanks to connections with Agency and Belkin-Maduri. The UK Hot Chocolate had rights to the name for a national release so Lou used his own name. The 45 is another excellent 2 sider. They were back to their own label for "I Can't Take It" which uped the funky element.
Around 1974-5 Lou changed to Seven Miles High and created the SMH label. More on that group can be found under the Lou Ragland entry.
LP - S/T. CoCo Cleveland 101 or 1010, 1970
Good For The Gander / We Had True Love - CoCo Cleveland 101/2, 1971
Since You Said You;d Be Mine / I Didn't Mean To Leave You - Warner Brothers 7734, 1973
I Can't Take It / What The Doctor Perscribed - CoCo Cleveland 103, 1973