It would have been hard for any group to release a more appropriately-titled single in late 1977 than the Commodores did with “Too Hot Ta Trot.” After an appropriate period of dues-paying, the Alabama collective were now in the form of their lives.
Two of the Motown group’s previous four singles, “Easy” and “Just To Be Close To You,” had topped the Billboard R&B charts. With Lionel Richie’s ballads as a counterpoint to their funk origins, they were masters of any tempo. The irresistible ballad “Easy” had been followed by another Top 5 hit in both soul and pop formats with the slinky “Brick House,” and now came another winning floorfiller.
In the group’s democratic way, the songwriting credit for “Too Hot Ta Trot” went to them all, listing Richie, Milan Williams, Ronald LaPread, Thomas McClary, Walter “Clyde” Orange and William King. It originated as the closing studio cut on their then-new Live! set, which was predicted by Billboard to be a “hot holiday item with both pop and soul crowds.”
It entered Hot Soul Singles at a bold No.51 on the December 24, 1977 chart, and rose swiftly to spend a week at the top of that countdown in February 1978. The Commodores had their fourth R&B No.1, with another around the corner in “Three Times A Lady,” and another again in 1979 with “Still.”
With disco fever at its height, “Too Hot Ta Trot” was a natural for the soundtrack of the movie Thank God It’s Friday, which appeared the following spring. Starring disco queen Donna Summer alongside Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger, the film won Summer an Oscar for Best Original Song with “Last Dance” and the accompanying album also featured Diana Ross, Cameo, Thelma Houston and other dance acts of the day such as Love & Kisses and Santa Esmeralda.