Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Don’t Leave Me This Way

First recorded by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (UK #5 1975).
Hit versions by Thelma Houston (US #1/R&B #1/UK #13 1977), The Communards (US #40/UK #1 1986).

From the wiki: “First charting as a hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, an act on Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International label, in 1975, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ was later a hit single for both Thelma Houston and The Communards. The Blue Notes’ original version of the song featured Teddy Pendergrass’ lead vocal, and was included as an album track on the group’s successful Wake Up Everybody LP but the recording was not released as a single in the US.

“Originally assigned to Diana Ross, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ was intended to be the follow-up to Ross’ hit ‘Love Hangover’. Instead, the song was reassigned and given to upcoming Motown artist, Thelma Houston. Following the release of her third album Any Way You Want It, a Boston record pool unanimously reported positive audience response to ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ in discos, and the song was selected for release as a single. Houston’s version became a massive international hit, topping the soul singles chart and, nine weeks later, the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in April 1977. The song peaked at #13 in the UK. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Houston’s version of the song became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay communities. An art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia entitled ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way – Art in the age of AIDS’ opened in 1994 containing various works about the epidemic.

“The song was covered in 1986 by The Communards in an avowedly Hi-NRG version; a recording topped the UK charts for four weeks in September 1986, becoming the biggest selling record of the year in the process. The featured guest vocalist was jazz singer Sarah Jane Morris.”

Thelma Houston, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” album version (1976):

The Communards, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (1986):

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