“Any Way You Like It” by Thelma Houston (1976)
Release Date: October 28, 1976
Produced by Hal Davis, Michael L. Smith, Michael Sutton, Harold Johnson, Joe Porter, Clayton Ivey, Terry Woodford, Michael Masser, Ronald Miller, William Goldstein
Chart Positions: #11 (US), #21 Sweden, #25 Denmark
Singles: “I Don’t Know Why I Love You,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way” #1 (US, South Africa), #4 (Canada, Netherlands, Sweden), #5 (Germany), #6 (Australia), #7 (Belgium), #11 (Spain), #13 (France, UK), #15 (Italy), #17 (New Zealand), #18 (Austria), “Anyway You Like It,” (no chart data), “If It’s The Last Thing I Do” #46 (US), #81 (Canada)
Any Way You Like It is the fourth album by Thelma Houston, released late October 1976 on Tamla Records. The album features energetic disco songs with fierce vocal performances by Houston on side 1, while side 2 focuses on ballads.
In 1976, Motown gave the go ahead on a second album for Thelma, assembling it from the various sessions she had undertaken since her first LP with producers including the teams of Hal Davis and Michael Sutton, and Clayton Ivey and Terry Woodford. The album includes the major hit single, "Don't Leave Me This Way", Houston's remake of the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes 1975 song, zoomed to No. 1 in the US charts. In the US, "If It's the Last Thing I Do", a track originally recorded in 1972, was chosen for the second single release on MoWest, while Europe had an edited version of the Stevie Wonder cover, "I Don't Know Why I Love You".
A re-recorded version of "Don't Leave Me This Way" was #19 on the dance charts in December 1994.
Arthur G. Wright, Michael L. Smith, Harold Johnson, Paul Riser, Clayton Ivey, Ted Stovall and Terry Woodford arranged the album.
“Don’t Leave Me This Way,” a song which first appeared on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes 1975 album “Wake Up Everybody” was released as a single by them in 1977 shortly after Thelma Houston’s disco version hit the charts. The Blue Notes' original version of the song, featuring Teddy Pendergrass' lead vocal was not issued as a single in the United States at the time, the Blue Notes' recording reached #3 on the US Billboard Disco Chart in the wake of Thelma Houston's version. The song proved to be the group's biggest hit in the UK, #5 on the UK singles chart, when released there as a single in 1977. Motown covered “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in 1976. Originally assigned to Diana Ross, it was intended to be the follow-up to her hit "Love Hangover" but was reassigned and given to the upcoming Motown artist Thelma Houston instead. Studio musicians on the track included James Gadson on drums, Henry E. Davis (of the band L.T.D.) on bass, and John Barnes on keyboards.
Houston's version became a massive international hit, topping the soul singles and disco charts as well as reaching #1 on the US singles chart for one week in April 1977. The song peaked at #13 in the UK. Later in the year, it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. In 1978, "Don't Leave Me This Way" won the award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards.
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
The album’s next single “Any Way You Like It” was co-written by Thelma Houston but failed to chart. Soon after the fourth single, “If It’s The Last Thing I Do,” a song that Thelma Houston first recorded in 1972 for Motown offshoot label Mowest. The song was never released but Houston gave it another try for her 1976 album and as a single was a moderate success reaching #46 in the US and #81 in Canada. The song also reached #12 on the US R&B chart. The song was recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1957 for his album “Close To You” but was not included on the album. His version was finally released in 2002 as a bonus track on the expanded edition of the album.
One of the album’s more soulful and funky cuts the Stevie Wonder-penned “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” displays Houston’s Gospel vocal abilities. The song was the first single to be released from “Any Way You Like It,” but was only released throughout Europe. Wonder’s version simply titled “I Don’t Know Why” was recorded and released in 1968 on his album “for Once In My Life.” Wonder released it as a single and experienced minor success with the song reaching #39 in the US, #41 in Canada and #14 in the UK.
“Come To Me,” a shimmering ballad and album highlight was co-written by Jermaine Jackson.
Thelma Houston (1976)