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Don’t Leave Me This Way

(Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert)

Written by Gamble & Huff of the Philadelphia International record label, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes were the first people to record this song.  Teddy Pendergrass supplied the lead vocals and it was released as a track on the group’s 1975 Wake Up Everybody.  Although not appearing on a single in the US, it still managed to get to No. 3 on the Billboard Disco charts.  However, 2 years later it was released as a single elsewhere and made it up to No. 5 on the UK chart and No. 13 in Sweden.

In between Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes US disco chart hit in 1975 and the 1977 release of the single in Europe, Thelma Houston released a 1976 disco version of the song.  Hal Davis was the producer and he brought in the same musicians that performed on Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover” for the recording.  It became a huge hit in the US reaching No. 1 on several of the Billboard Charts and later being ranked No. 2 in VH1’s “100 Greatest Dance Songs” and No. 86 in their “100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders”.  It didn’t do as well as the later Harold Melvin release in the UK though when it just reached the No. 13 spot.  A remix of Thelma’s version was released in 1995 and charted again when it reached No. 19 on the Billboard Dance chart and No. 35 in the UK.

The song came to the fore once again in 1986 when The Communards, with Sarah Jane Morris as the featured singer, recorded a Hi-NRG version of it.  In fact there have been several remixes of that version including the “Son of Gotham City Mix” which lasts nearly 23 minutes.  Once again it flew up the charts with it making No. 1 status in the UK and Holland and on the Billboard Dance chart.  It also appeared on the Billboard Top 100 at No. 40 and reached the Top 10 in several other European countries.  It became 1986’s best selling single in the UK and the most successful version of the song there to date.

Countless artists have performed and/or recorded it over the years including Cher, Sheena Easton, Isaac Hayes and The Temptations among many others and Svlvie Vartan recorded a version of it in French.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes recordings
Don’t Leave Me This Way (Kenneth Gamble/Cary Gilbert/Leon Huff)
Philadelphia International – S PIR 4909 A (UK 45)