Classics: Thelma Houston – You Used To Hold Me So Tight (MCA)
Thelma Houston, a one hit wonder? To a big majority of us, most likely, as a matter of fact. This, with her cover version of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ famous ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. A performance which would get her to top the charts back in 1977. Then winning the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Meanwhile her attempt to return the year after in the vein of the aforementioned failed to generate a comparable reception. This despite the undeniable beauty of ‘I’m Here Again’ along with up and coming producers Mike & Brenda Sutton.
With Disco behind after the memorable Disco Demolition Night, Houston marked an inflection towards the Urban market. This with her 1984 ‘Qualifiying Heat’ album. Thus working with Minneapolis-based production pair Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. And even though it failed to crossover into the Pop market, it brought her a new audience. With thanks to the firing ‘You Used To Hold Me So Tight’ which would be her most successful post-70’s release.
Also interesting to note is the fact that ‘You Used To Hold Me So Tight’ saw Jam & Lewis venturing into slightly different territories. Leavin’ their synths fused driven midtempos in favor of a syncopated bouncing approach. With Monte Moir in charge of the percussion and the drum programming. And David Eiland spicin’ up the whole with a jazzy sax part.
Regardless her undeniable talent, Thelma Houston stands among those artists whose image has been mainly associated with one hit. In other words, her cover version of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes‘ ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. A song which got her to win the Grammy for “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance” back in 1977.
She eventually returned to the style of the latter the following year. Most likely on the leading track to her ‘The Devil In Me’ album. But despite its undeniable beauty, ‘I’m Here Again’ never got the recognition it deserved.
Houston would nevertheless enjoy moderate success with producers Jam & Lewis on the boiling ‘You Used To Hold Me So Tight’ by the middle of 1984. (*) A song which peaked at number 7 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, although it missed the Billboard Hot 100 (* Wikipedia).