‘Hot Dog’ is typical of Lou Donaldson’s late 60’s soul-jazz steered in the direction of more commercially funky territory, and while not the failure that his later 70’s material often was, it remains pretty uneven, with every peak high matched by an equal low. As usual, the worst pieces are the covers of then contemporary soul and R&B numbers, which in this case both open and close the album; ‘Who’s Making Love’ is a frankly abysmal performance and how it passed muster with any kind of producer is bewildering, while ‘It’s Your Thing’ attempts heavy funk, only to sound merely heavy and bloated, and yet still curiously empty.
The remainder though sounds surprisingly very tasty indeed, with Tommy Turrentine’s ‘Bonnie’ providing the perfect romantic ballad for Donaldson to showcase his beautifully melodic playing. Elsewhere, the original composition ‘Turtle Walk’ seems to snap the group awake and in line to the right groove, and the soloists all sound alive and fully-charged. Donaldson’s own title piece meanwhile showcases both the best and worst of this era of his career, with some serious and exciting addictive funk coming into play, but at the same time nothing major happens for a very long time over ten decidedly thinly-stretched minutes.
So ‘Hot Dog’ manages in its five pieces to feature two disastrous cuts, two standouts and one that falls down to just above average. Showing Donaldson as being as being very capable indeed, as well as being equally poor and lacklustre, the recording as a whole is woefully inconsistent, and only Donaldson fans should really check it out, but as weak as it is those highs that are here are genuinely worth the time.