Our Top 10 Thelma Houston Songs list looks at a singer who rose to fame in the late 60s. She’s possibly best known for her hit single “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” The song was so popular that she earned a Grammy award for it. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” may be her signature song, but she does have other hits under her belt. Her other hits include “You Used to Hold Me Tight,” “I’m Here Again,” “If It’s the Last Thing I Do,” “If You Feel It” as well as others. She was able to achieve fame while in competition with such artists as Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Vicki Sue Robinson, Anita Ward, Candi Stanton, Dan Hartman, Barbra Streisand, France Joli, Heatwave, KC and the Sunshine Band, Alicia Bridges, The Bee Gees, Melissa Manchester, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, First Choice as well as others.
Thelma Jackson was born on May 7, 1946. She got her start in music by singing in a gospel group. She was signed to Motown Records. One thing led to another, and she recorded her first album. Sunshower was released in 1969. The album peaked at number 50 on the r&b charts. It features the singles “Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon,” “Sunshower,” “If This Was the Last Song” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” She released her eponymous album in 1972. It features the single “Me and Bobby McGee.”I’ve Got the Music in Me came out in 1975. It features the singles “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” “To Know You Is to Love You” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
Any Way You Make It was released in 1976. It peaked at number five on the r&b charts and number 11 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “If It’s the Last Thing I Do” and “Don’t Know Why I Love You.” Thelma and Jerry was released in 1977. The album was a duet album she recorded with singer Jerry Butler. The album peaked at number 20 on the r&b charts and number 53 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “And You’ve Got Me,” “It’s a Lifetime Thing” and “I Love You Through the Windows.” The Devil in Me was released in 1977. It peaked at number 29 on the r&b charts and number 64 on the Billboard 200 charts. The album features the singles “I’m Here Again” and “I Can’t Go on Living Without Your Love.” Two to One came out in 1978. The album features the singles “Find a Way,” “I’m Not Strong Enough (to Love You Again)” and “Don’t Pity Me.”
Ready to Roll came out in 1978. The album peaked at number 74 on the r&b charts. It features the single “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning.” Breakwater Cat was released in 1980. The album features the single “Suspicious Minds.” Never Gonna Be Another One came out in 1981. It peaked at number 51 on the r&b charts and number 144 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “If You Feel It,” “96 Tears” and “Never Give You Up.” Reachin’ All Around came out in 1982. It features the singles “You Were Never My Friend,” “Reachin’ All Around My Love” and “I Can’t Go Home Again.” Thelma Houston released another eponymous album in 1983. It features the singles “Working Girl” and “Just Like All the Rest.” Qualifying Heat came out in 1984. The album peaked at number 30 on the r&b charts. It features the singles “You Used to Hold Me So Tight.” “(I Guess) It Must Be Love” and “I’d Rather Spend the Bad Time with You Then the Good Times with Someone New.” Throw You Down was released in 1990. It features the singles “Out of My Hands,” “High” and “Throw You Down.” A Woman’s Touch was released in 2007. It features the single “Brand New Day.”
Thelma Houston proved that she was more capable of recording more than just one hit. She recorded several good songs. She is a talented singer, but her skills were overshadowed by other artists. She was able to achieve success in her own right. Our list is a celebration of her work. Our Top 10 Thelma Houston Songs list will feature her best songs.
# 10 – No One’s Going to Be a Fool Forever
The first song on our Top 10 Thelma Houston’s Songs list is “No One’s Going to Be a Fool Forever” from her eponymous album. The song has a disco beat. The empowering song is about her leaving a man who treats her badly. She refused to be a fool for love. He only tells her that he loves her because he doesn’t want her to leave. His words no longer work for her. They have fallen on deaf ears. She wants to leave. She refuses to be a fool forever. She decides to say goodbye to him. This song is exactly what people need to hear if they are torn about leaving a bad relationship. It will give you the courage to walk away. You shouldn’t keep accepting bad behavior. You deserve better.
This track is proof that Thelma Houston can do more than just one single. This track will be overlooked because it didn’t get the airplay that “Don’t Leave Me This Way” received, but it has an important message. The song has a disco beat. The beat is upbeat and keeps the song from being depressing. It’s the type of beat that will make you feel empowered. Thelma Houston has enough sass in her voice to pull off the theme. You can’t help believing that she’s tired of the man who isn’t treating her right. She pours her heart out while she lets the man know she won’t be a fool forever.
# 9 – Lean on Me ft. The Winans
The next song on our Top 10 Thelma Houston Songs list is “Lean on Me” from the lean on Me Soundtrack. The song has an r&b and gospel sound. The selfless song is about helping people in need. It’s an anthem about being there during someone’s time of need. You provide a shoulder for someone to cry on if they need it. They want to be there for you if you need them. The song is for the movie of the same name. The song fits for the movie, but it can apply to your life too. If you need help, it’s a great feeling to know that you have someone to count on in your time of need. It’s a good message that stood the test of time.
Bill Withers and Club Nouveau recorded this song before Thelma Houston and the Winans did. Their versions will be the first ones you think of when you think of this song. Thelma Houston and the Winans put their spin on this classic jam. Bill Withers did a soulful version of the song. Club Nouveau did a dance version of the track. This version is a gospel version of it. We applaud Thelma Houston and the Winans for what they did to the song. They made the song their own. They will take you to church as they belt out the lyrics. The Winans always deliver when it comes to singing gospel music. Thelma Houston had the opportunity to stretch her vocals chops on this jam. She displays so much power on this song. She has vocal strength we never knew she had.
# 8 – 96 Tears
The vengeful song is from the album Never Gonna Be Another One. The song has a disco and r&b beat. The embittered song is about a scorned woman who has a broken heart. She wants to make her man pay for breaking up with her. She comes up with a plan. She decides to get back together with him so she could break up with him. She wants to make him cry “96 tears” so he will know what she went through when he left her. This is a unique way to make someone pay for breaking up with you. Most people don’t get back together with people just to break up with them.
Thelma Houston remade several songs throughout her career. She even managed to put her spin on a rock song. It may seem like an unlikely song for her to cover, but she pulled it off. “96 Tears” was recorded by ? and the Mysterians. She turned a rock song into a post disco anthem. The beat isn’t like her other disco jams, but you can still move around to it. She told the story from a female’s point of view. She made the song into an anthem for women. It may not be as known as her other hit singles, but she did an incredible job with this remake. She managed to make this song her own. She changed it in a way that it is different from the original while maintaining the same meaning.
# 7 – If You Feel It
The enticing song is from the Never Gonna Be Another One album. The song has a disco beat. The sizzling song is about a man turning her on. She talks about what he does to her. She gets turned on when she touches him. He makes her feel good. He is such a good man that she talks to herself about how good he is. She wants to be intimate with him. She wants everyone to know how good it is to be with him. She loves everything about him. He turns her on and she wants everyone to know about it. Have you ever been turned on by someone so much that you want to tell everyone about it?
You will feel the beat of this track. The energetic music will have you on the floor in no time. It has a classic disco sound. This song was recorded when disco was ending, but it still has the flare of the sound. You can dance to this song with the man who makes you “feel it.” The music comes alive during the instrumental pause in the song. The guitar riff is so catchy. It will keep you hooked throughout the song. The piano chords are amazing. The melody is almost similar to Rufus and Chaka Khan’s song “Once You Get Started.” Thelma Houston’s soulful voice sounds pretty on this track. She doesn’t hold notes on the song, but she sounds fantastic. The song is a little long, but you get the chance to hear the infectious music.
# 6 – Saturday Night, Sunday Morning
The breezy song is from the album Ride to the Rainbow. The album has a disco beat. The upbeat song is about a woman who has second thoughts about a man. She didn’t initially want to be with him, but something about him changed her mind. She realized that he was the one for her. The singer implies that she spent the night with her lover. She’s convinced that he will remain in her life. She doesn’t want to let him go. It took her a long time to find the right man and she has no intention of letting him go.
This groove will have you moving around as soon as the beat starts. The thumping drumbeat drives the beat. The guitar riffs are very cool. The horn section is flawless. There’s no way to sit still listening to this upbeat jam. You can get lost listening to the beat. The lyrics will keep you guessing. We’re not sure what the title means for the song, but we do enjoy listening to it. Thelma Houston gives this song her all. She sounds like she’s enjoying herself on this track. She convinces the listeners that she’s in love. The chorus of the song is so catchy that it invites you to sing along with them. The music and the chorus are the standouts of the track. Thelma Houston is also a standout on the song. She sings the song in her upper register and she sounds great doing it.
# 5 – If It’s the Last Thing I Do
The next song on our Top 10 Thelma Houston Songs list is “If It’s the Last Thing I Do” from the album Any Way You Like It. The song has an r&b beat. The pleading song is about a woman who will do anything to get the man she wants. She is determined to make him her man. She will do whatever it takes to make him love her. She’s going to make their dreams come true. She wants him to love her for life. She’s being the aggressor on the song. She hopes that he will be with her. If it’s the last things she does, she will make sure they are together. She believes she could do anything if she can get him.
This track sounds different from her previous songs on our list. The song doesn’t have a disco beat. The song sounds like an r&b ballad. The music sounds like a classic jam that would be on Quiet Storm radio. It sounds like a combination of Motown music meets TSOP music. This track was recorded during the disco era so it’s different that she chose another route. This song is on the same album as “Don’t Leave Me This Way” so it could have been overlooked. The song deserves to be recognized. It’s just as good as her hit single. Thelma Houston sings the song with attitude. She sounds confident when she talks about the man she loves and how she’s going to get him. You would have to be confident to sing a song about making a man be yours. She manages not to sound like a stalker on the track.
# 4 – I’m Here Again
The emotional song is from the album The Devil in Me. The song has a disco sound. The tender song is about a woman who is unlucky in love and decides to go back to her ex-lover. She knows it’s hard to find someone who cares about you so she goes back to an old flame. She needs his love to move on with her life. She doesn’t want to ask for much. She wants him to love her. She tried to fight it, but it’s too strong for her. She needs his love to go on with her life. She knows it’s wrong, but she can’t help herself. She wants to take him back.
The music is similar to her hit song “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” You might find yourself singing the words to “Don’t Leave Me This Way” instead of this one because they sound alike. The guitar riffs are similar to Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover.” You might notice it by the time she reaches the bridge of the song. The flow of the lyrics is similar to her monster hit. Thelma Houston performs her runs slightly different from her big hit so that keeps them from sounding too much alike. Thelma Houston’s vocals are outstanding on this song. She starts the song softly to go along with the music. She comes alive once she gets to the chorus of the song. This inviting song will have you on the dance floor and singing along with her.
# 3 – I’d Rather Spend Bad Times with You Than Spend the Good Times with Someone New
The reflective song is from the album Qualifying Heat. The song has an r&b ,pop and freestyle sound. The bittersweet song is about a woman who loves a man enough that she will stay with him through bad times. She doesn’t want to have good times with a new man. She is willing to love him unconditionally because she doesn’t want to move on with her life. She couldn’t see herself with a new man so she wants to stay with the man she loves now. They have been through a lot of things so she wants to stay. They go through a lot of bad times, but it doesn’t change the way she feels about him. She doesn’t think a new man will make her happy.
You might be surprised to learn that Jam & Lewis wrote and produced this track. This doesn’t sound like the songs they’ve written for other artists. They borrowed from the freestyle genre to create this jam. They usually write r&b and pop tracks so this was a change for the duo. The beat has an 80s sound to it. You will recognize the song as 80s track as soon as it starts. If you are a fan of 80s music, you will enjoy this song. Thelma Houston was known for her disco track “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” This track gave her a chance to spread her wings. She sounds different on this song. She sings the track in her upper register. Thelma Houston will surprise you with how high her voice can get.
# 2 – You Used to Hold Me Tight
The longing song is from the album Qualifying Heat. The song has an r&b beat. The reminiscent song is about a woman thinking about the way her relationship used to be with her man. She thinks about the things he used to do for her. She remembers how he used to hold her. She longed for the good days they used to have together. She misses the way he used to be with her. She believes that their love is still good like it used to be. He only hugged and kissed her once that day. She needs him to do more for her. She’s hoping he will remember how he used to be with her.
This song gives Thelma Houston a chance to show off her yearning side. This song is a departure from her other sound. Jam & Lewis created a brilliant sound for our disco diva. They brought out the best of her. The song might give you Cherrelle vibes. It sounds like something Cherrelle would have recorded. The production on this song is exquisite. This song is different from our previous entry. Thelma Houston got the chance to sing a song that would be perfect to hear on Quiet Storm radio. Fans of her disco jams might have to get used to hearing this type of song from the legendary artist, but this sound suits her style too. This song could have easily been number one, but there’s no way we could end our list without the song we picked for number one.
# 1 – Don’t Leave Me This Way
The number one song on our Top 10 Thelma Houston Songs list is “Don’t Leave Me This Way” from the album Any Way You Like It. The song has a disco beat. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we chose this as our number one jam. We couldn’t end our list without including one of the biggest songs of her career. The pleading song is about a woman begging her man not to leave her. She feels like she’s being abandoned, but she doesn’t want him to leave. She said she can’t survive without him. She needs his love to survive. She pleads for him not to leave her. The narrator wants him to come back to her and continue to love her the way she wants. Have you found yourself in a position where you must plead with someone not to leave? If you can answer that, you know how she feels. You might be singing along with her as she asks her man not to leave her.
This is the jam that helped make Thelma Houston a crossover hitmaker. She was singing for years before she would achieve a number one hit. She is a talented singer, but she didn’t have big success until this track was released. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes recorded the song before Thelma Houston recorded it. Her version doesn’t stray too far from their version. Thelma Houston’s version is a disco song while Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes version has a soul sound mixed with disco. She sings the song from a woman’s point of view. Thelma Houston pours her heart out on this track.
She makes you feel her pain. You will want to root for her to keep her man. She does everything right on this song. She sings in time with the beat. Her runs are off the charts. She belts when she sings the chorus. The background singers do a great job supporting her in the chorus. They push her to sing louder. Here is a fun fact about the song. Diana Ross was offered this song first. Thelma Houston ended up with the song and the rest was history. Fate stepped in and the right decision was made. The song was meant to be in the hands of Thelma Houston.
Top 10 Thelma Houston Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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