Thelma Houston

Don't Leave Me This Way

Song Review by

"Don't Leave Me This Way" was the lone big hit for disco diva Thelma Houston, topping the pop, R&B, and dance charts in early 1977. Although her version remains far and away the best known, the song was actually recorded first by Philly soul stars Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes for their 1975 LP Wake Up Everybody. There's plenty of drama and a great lead vocal from Teddy Pendergrass in that original version, which makes it puzzling as to why it was never released as a single. Houston's producer, Hal Davis, knew a great song when he heard it, though, and had the long-struggling Houston record it for her 1976 LP, Any Way You Like It. "Don't Leave Me This Way" became an immediate club/dance hit, then crossed over to pop and R&B radio. Davis' production on the remake is more explicitly oriented toward the discotheque; the strings, the insistent hi-hat, the pronounced bass, the prominent beat all fairly scream disco. It's a bit less detailed than Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's original (they also wrote the song, along with Cary Gilbert), but for 1976-1977, Davis' sound held an across-the-board appeal. For her part, Houston isn't quite the raw belter that Teddy Pendergrass was, but she has the vocal chops and the vulnerability to make her own rendition thoroughly convincing. Like so many other disco singers, Houston was unable to duplicate her breakout success, but "Don't Leave Me This Way" remains an oft-anthologized staple of the genre.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1973
Various Artists
Motown
Billboard Top Hits: 1977 1977
Various Artists
Rhino 3:41
The Best of Thelma Houston [Motown] 1991 Motown 5:42
Hitsville USA, Vol. 2: The Motown Singles Collection 1972-1992 1993
Various Artists
Motown 3:41
The Story of Soul Music 1995
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:36
Dance Mania '95 1995
Various Artists
3:28
Motown Year By Year: The Sound of Young America, 1976 1995
Various Artists
Motown 3:41
Mighty Real Dance Classics 1995
Various Artists
Capitol 5:39
Billboard Top Hits: 1975-1979 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 3:41
Motown Milestones: Mowtown's Leading Ladies 1995
Various Artists
Motown 3:41
DJ's Take Control, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Apex
Funkology, Vol. 3: Dance Divas 1996
Various Artists
Motown 5:42
Can You Dig It?, Vol. 1 1996
Various Artists
Dig It Records
Get Up & Dance, Vol. 5 1996
Various Artists
Unidisc 5:52
Disco Fox, Vol. 4 1997
Various Artists
ZYX Music 4:01
Non-Stop Disco, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Polygram 4:49
VH1 8-Track Flashback: The One-Hit Wonders 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:41
Retro Disco 1997
Various Artists
Central Station Records
Strip: Pride & Joy 1997
Various Artists
Central Station Records 5:43
Dance Hits Supermix Collectors Edition 1997
Various Artists
Critique Records
Looking for Mr. Goodbar 1997
Original Soundtrack
P.E.G. 3:39
DJ Disco Mix, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Beast Records / Simitar Distribution
1995 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 1998
Various Artists
Central Station Records 9:06
54, Vol. 2 1998
Original Soundtrack
Tommy Boy 3:35
Nightlife Essentials, Vol. 4: House Music Revenge 1998 Max Music & Entertainment / Max 3:42
No. 1 Classic Pop Album 1998
Various Artists
Polygram 3:36
70's Disco Ball Party Pack 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:38
Essential 12'': The 70's 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 5:42
Only Soul 1975-1979 1999
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 3:40
Disco Box 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:40
Billboard Top Dance Hits: 1976-1980 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:40
Collector's Edition: Disco 1999
Various Artists
A M W Music 3:37
The Summer of Sam 1999
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 3:40
Disco Fever, Vol. 2 [SPG] 1999
Various Artists
SPG 3:37
Best of the Best: Divas of Soul, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Primary Colors 3:40
Soul Train: The Dance Years 1977 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:40
Motown Chartbusters, Vols. 7-12 [Box Set] 1999
Various Artists
Polygram 3:38
Bitchin' Hits: Fantastic Femmes [Delta/2 Disc] 1999
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 3:38
Euro Party Mega Mix 1996 2000
Various Artists
Popular Records, L.L.C 2:06
Lipstick Hits: Femme Favorites 2000
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 3:38
Motown History, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Motown 3:41
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1977 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:40
The Universal Masters Collection: Classic Disco 2000
Various Artists
Polydor / Universal 3:36
DJ Dance Masters 2000
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 5:42
Jammin' Gold 2000
Various Artists
Q Records / Atlantic 3:37
Disco's Greatest Hits 2000
Various Artists
Trans World 3:37
World of Disco 2001
Various Artists
ZYX / ZYX Music 4:02
Instant Party: Disco Boogie 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:39
Dancing Queens [Medalist] 2001
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 5:40
25 Years of Disco 2001
Various Artists
Unidisc 3:23
Motown Chartbusters, Vol. 10 2001
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:38
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1975-1979 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:40
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Motown 1970s, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Motown 3:38
Daily Disco Workout 2001
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:36
Disco Nights [MCA Special Products] 2001 Crimson Productions 0:00
Monster Disco 2002
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 3:38
Disco Fever, Vol. 1-2 [SPG] 2002
Various Artists
SPG 3:39
Body and Soul: Ladies Got Soul 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:40
Ultimate Disco: 30th Anniversary Collection 2003
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:36
Girls Triple Set 2003
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:37
Girls Night Out [K-Tel UK] 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 4:10
Pop Divas [Goldies Box Set] 2004
Various Artists
Goldies 0:00
One Hit Wonders of Love 2004
Various Artists
St. Clair 4:08
Motown Number 1's 2004
Various Artists
Motown / UTV 3:40
Soul City [CRG] 2004
Various Artists
CRG 4:08
Gay Happening Best, Vol. 3 2004
Various Artists
Dance Street / ZYX 5:59
One Hit Wonders [St. Clair] 2004
Various Artists
St. Clair 4:08
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:37
Soul Searchin' [Northquest] 2005
Various Artists
Northquest 4:08
Only You [Columbia River 2005] 2005
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 4:08
Disco Gold 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 5:43
Motown Disco: Soulful Grooves from the '70s and '80s 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal International 5:46
Party: 3-CD Box Set 2006
Various Artists
Universal International 3:38
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:36
Number 1's: Dance 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:41
Motown: The Complete #1s 2008
Various Artists
Motown 5:42
Don't Quit Music: Sweating Disco Dance Party 2008
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:35
The Hits Reloaded 2008
Various Artists
Hipnotic Records / Cleopatra 5:50
Motown 50 [International Version 2] 2008
Various Artists
Motown / Universal Distribution 3:37
Divas of Motown 2009
Various Artists
Island / Motown 3:38
Gold Classic Hits Radio '70s 2009
Various Artists
Gold Classic Hits Radio / Universal Music 3:37
Total Motown 2010
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:41
Disco Fever 2010
Various Artists
Hip-O / Strategic Marketing 5:27
100 Essential Hits: Woman 2011
Various Artists
Brunswick / Universal / Universal Music 3:38
Radio's Best Top Hits in R&B 2011
Various Artists
AAO Music / United Audio Entertainment 4:08
Now! That's What I Call Disco 2013
Various Artists
Now! 3:35
20 #1’s: Disco
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:38
202 Motown Songs: The Complete #1's
Various Artists
Island / Def Jam / Universal Music 5:42
54, Vol. 2 [Music from the Miramax Motion Picture]
Various Artists
Tommy Boy 3:36
Any Day Now (Chocolate Donuts)
Original Soundtrack
Phineas Atwood Productions 3:42
Body By Jake: Sweating Disco Dance Party
Various Artists
Body By Jake 3:35
Dance #1's
Various Artists
Universal 3:38
Dance Number 1's
Various Artists
Hip-O 6:59
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 3:38
Forever Disco [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal 3:38
French Riviera Cafe, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Def Jam / Island / Network / Universal 3:34
Heartbreak Hits
Various Artists
Universal 3:39
No Image
Various Artists
Polygram
Motown 50 [Universal Mexico 1]
Various Artists
Universal 3:35
Motown Disco [2019]
Various Artists
Universal 3:36
Motown Greatest Hits [2019]
Various Artists
Universal
Motown Queens
Various Artists
Universal 3:41
Radio Hits Collection
Various Artists
AAO Music / United Audio Entertainment 4:09
No Image
Various Artists
Allegro
The Motown Story
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
Total Woman
Various Artists
Universal 3:36