This album, and its predecessor album Moods, are generally acknowledged to be the two most important recording projects of Diamond's career in terms of defining his signature sound, and in the case of Hot August Night his live performance style, for the future.
The album has become a great success for Diamond, and in Australia, it spent 29 weeks at number 1 on the album charts during 1973 and 1974. In 2003, Delta Goodrem with her Sony BMG-based album Innocent Eyes, also achieved number 1 on the Australian album chart for 29 weeks, thereby tying her with Neil Diamond.
It was the number one charting album in Australia for the 1970s, entering the Australian album charts in late 1972 and was still charting in the top 20 in 1976. It re-entered the Australian top 10 in 1982.
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, music critic Lester Bangs called Hot August Night a "fine presentation of the entire spectrum" of Diamond's work and praised its music as "great, pretentious, goofy pop" with a melodramatic, "hymn-like feeling". In his review for Creem, Robert Christgau panned the album as a failed attempt at "bad art", and found Diamond's humor "sententious" and his country-western songs tasteless.
String section — Sidney Sharp, Philip Candreva, Paulo Alencar, Baldassare Ferlazzo, Robert Lipsett, Haim Shtrum, Ron Folsom, Henry Ferber, Hyman Goodman, William Henderson, John DeVoogdt, Wilbert Nuttycombe, Jay Rosen, Walter Wiemeyer, Shari Zippert, Ralph Schaeffer, Tibor Zelig, Walter Rower, Salvatore Crimi, Richard Kaufman, David Turner (violins), Linn Subotnick, Philip Goldberg, Sven Reher, Myron Sandler, Marilyn Baker, Samuel Boghossian (violas), Jesse Ehrlich, Jerome Kessler, Raymond Kelley, Nathan Gershman, Alice Ober, Giacinto Nardulli (violoncelli), Timothy Barr, Jess Bourgeois, Don Bagley (bass violins)