"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.