Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"Don't Leave Me This Way" by The Communards

Song#:  2978
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  40
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Dance, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  In 1984, the UK synthpop trio Bronski Beat hit the big time with their debut album The Age of Consent. It would reach #4 in the UK thanks to two Top 10 hits there including the #3 "Smalltown Boy," which crossed over to the US Pop chart and got to #48. It seemed the band was on their way to bigger things, but then lead singer Jimmy Somerville suddenly decided to leave and form a duo with a musician who played on the album, Richard Coles. They called themselves The Communards and began work on a debut LP. The self-titled effort would be released in the summer of '86 in the UK and it would be a #7 hit thanks in part to this single which topped the UK chart for four weeks and became the best selling single of 1986. The song would be a hit all over Europe before finally coming ashore here in the States late in the year. It would replicate its UK success on the US Dance chart by reaching #1. It crossed over the Pop chart, but it didn't catch on in a more mainstream way and just barely nicked the Top 40. The album would be a low charter at #90. Another track from the album, "So Cold the Night," would get to #25 at Dance (#8 UK).

ReduxReview:  Somerville always sings in a falsetto so for some folks that can be an acquired taste. I like it, but sometimes a full album can be a bit too much so I tend to listen to selected tracks like this one. It's also odd that Somerville's voice is higher than the actual female voice on this (see below), but they do compliment each other. I prefer Houston's classic disco version better (again, see below), but this 80s dance floor workout take is pretty fun. For the US, this track was a bit too club-oriented for pop radio so a Top 40 showing wasn't a bad result. Dance clubs ate it up though and it was an easy #1 on that chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The duo's name was taken from French history. The Paris Commune was the name of a radical socialist group and government that for a minor few months in 1871 ruled Paris in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. They were ultimately quashed by the French army during a long struggle for control that became known as "bloody week." The members of the Commune along with its supporters were known as Communards.  2) This is a remake of a song originally recorded in 1975 by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with Teddy Pendergrass handling lead vocals. The song was a track for their album Wake Up Everybody and was not initially released as a single. The tune then found its way over to Motown and was slated to be recorded by Diana Ross. Instead, it got assigned to label mate Thelma Houston. Houston had been associated with Motown since 1971, but she had little luck breaking through. Her disco take on the song became a smash hit in 1977 reaching #1 at Pop, R&B, and Dance. It would end up being a classic of the genre. With the success of Houston's version, Harold Melvin's original got issued out as a single the same year. It didn't make an impression in the US, but it was a hit in the UK reaching #5 (Houston's version got to #13 in the UK). Houston would go on to win the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the song.  3) The female vocal on the track was courtesy of Sarah Jane Morris. She had been the lead vocalist in two well-regarded UK bands, the political-leaning The Republic and the 21-piece brass band The Happy End. Although not considered a formal member of the Communards, Morris would lend her vocals to several of their tracks. She would later launch a solo career in 1989. She is cousin to famed Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin.


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