Ain't No Mountain High Enough

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Not to be confused with River Deep – Mountain High.
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Single by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
from the album United
B-side "Give a Little Love"
Released April 27, 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville USA (Studio A)
(Detroit, Michigan)
December 26, 1966 and January 6, 11 & 29 and February 1, 1967
Genre Soul, rhythm and blues, pop
Length 2:28
Label Tamla
T 54149
Writer(s) Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Producer(s) Harvey Fuqua
Johnny Bristol
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell singles chronology
"Little Darling (I Need You)"
(Gaye, 1966)

"I Can't Believe You Love Me"
(Terrell, 1966)

"Aint No Mountain High Enough"
(1967)
"Your Unchanging Love"
(Gaye, 1967)

"Your Precious Love"
(Gaye & Terrell, 1967)

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is an R&B/soul song written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla Motown label. The composition was first successful as a 1967 hit single recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, becoming a hit again in 1970 when recorded by former Supremes frontwoman Diana Ross. The song became Ross' first solo number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

History[edit]

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell original[edit]

The song was written by Ashford and Simpson prior to joining Motown. British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but the duo declined, hoping it would give them access to the Detroit-based label. As Valerie Simpson later recalled, "We played that song for her (Springfield) but wouldn't give it to her, because we wanted to hold that back. We felt like that could be our entree to Motown. Nick called it the 'golden egg'." [1]

The original 1967 version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was a top twenty hit. According to record producers, Terrell was a little nervous and intimidated during recording because she did not rehearse the lyrics. Terrell recorded her vocals alone with producers Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol, who added Gaye's vocal at a later date.[2] "Ain't No Mountain" peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard pop charts, and went to number three on the R&B charts.[3]

This original version of "Ain't No Mountain", produced by Fuqua and Bristol, was a care-free, danceable, and romantic love song that became the signature duet between Gaye and Terrell. Its success led to a string of more Ashford/Simpson penned duets (including "You're All I Need to Get By", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", and "Your Precious Love").

The Gaye/Terrell version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, and is regarded today as one of the most important records ever released by Motown.

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Diana Ross
B-side "Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow"
Released July 16, 1970
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville USA (Studio A)
(Detroit, Michigan)
March 13, March 14, and March 18, 1970
Genre Soul
Length 3:32 (single edit)
6:18 (album version)
Label Motown
M 1169
Producer(s) Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Certification Platinum (US)
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
(1970)
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
(1970)
"Remember Me"
(1970)

Diana Ross version[edit]

After the Top 20 success of her first single, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)", Ashford and Simpson had Ross re-record "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Initially, Ross was apprehensive, as she had previously covered the song as a member of the Supremes in a duet with The Temptations (see below). Eventually, however, she was convinced to make the recording. The cover produced a version similar to gospel with elements of classical music strings (provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), spoken word passages from Ross, with the Andantes, Jimmy Beavers, and Ashford and Simpson as backing singers giving the song a soul and gospel vocal element.

Motown chief Berry Gordy did not like the record upon first hearing it. He hated the spoken-word passages and wanted the song to begin with the climactic chorus/bridge. It was not until radio stations nationwide were editing their own versions and adding it to their playlists that Ashford and Simpson were able to convince Gordy to release an edited three-minute version as a single. Ross' version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" rose up to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts.[4] The single sold, in just the USA, alone, 1,245,000 copies becoming a Gold Record and, Ross, receiving a Grammy Nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This version is in the key of C minor.

Notable covers[edit]


With The Supremes, Diana Ross recorded a version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" which was more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version as a duet with The Temptations. That song was an album cut from a joint LP released by Motown Records in 1968 on the two superstar groups, titled Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations. In 2000, KLM used this version as a commercial.

1981 saw the recording by Inner Life of the underground dance classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", produced by Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael, remixed by Larry Levan, and released on the Salsoul label. The same year saw an upbeat disco version by the Boys Town Gang who recorded it as a medley with another Ashford & Simpson song, "Remember Me". The full version of this song is nearly 14 minutes long and can be found on their album Cruisin the Street.

Stacy Lattisaw and Howard Hewett sang "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on Personal Attention album in 1988.

In 1993 Sister Act 2 covered "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" both in the movie and soundtrack, mixing the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross versions together.

Australian singer Jimmy Barnes released an album of soul covers titled Soul Deep in 1991, including his rock version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". This cover reached #28 in Australia in 1992 [5]

In 1997, Whitney Houston performed the song live as a part of her medley tribute to Diana Ross on her Classic Whitney Live from Washington, D.C. concert.

The 2000 film Remember the Titans featured a version of the song performed by the cast.

Former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald recorded the song as part of his Motown album in 2003.

In 2004, the 12 finalists of American Idol covered the song for the ensemble track for the cast album American Idol Season 3: Greatest Soul Classics.

In 2006, Australian vocal group Human Nature included a cover on the second album of their Motown trilogy, Dancing in the Street: the Songs of Motown II. The album debuted at #1 on the ARIA charts.

In 2006, Amy Winehouse recorded the song "Tears Dry On Their Own" for her album Back to Black, which keeps the chord progression, accompaniment arrangement, and instrumentation of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", but which contains a different sung melody with new lyrics written by Winehouse.

A duet between Eddie Money & his daughter Jesse Money is featured on his 2007 cover album Wanna Go Back.

In 2009, Lionel Richie and Stefanie Heinzmann performed the song live in the German music award show Echo 2009.[6]

In 2009, Dionne Bromfield covered this song on her debut album "Introducing Dionne Bromfield".

In 2011, the song was re-recorded by Paul Epworth and used in a commercial for DHL.[7]

In 2013, Michael Bolton covered the song, which featured Kelly Rowland, for his 2013 album "Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Tribute to Hitsville". That version was also more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version.

In 2014, Jennifer Lopez performed the song at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards as part of her song First Love.

Personnel[edit]

Gaye/Terrell version[edit]

Ross version[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-17/entertainment/ct-ent-1117-valerie-simpson-20111117_1_ashford-and-simpson-gaye-terrell-gaye-and-tammi-terrell
  2. ^ Chin, Brian (2001). Liner notes for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: The Complete Duets. New York: Motown Records/UMG Recordings.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits. New York, NY: Billboard Books, 2006. Print.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 501. 
  5. ^ Chart Position @ Australian-Charts.com Retrieved May 3, 2009
  6. ^ Stefanie Heinzmann & Lionel Richie - Ain´t No Mountain High Enough (live on the German ECHO music awards 2009) on YouTube, video of the live performance (February 2009)
  7. ^ "DHL Express presents "The International Specialists"". DHL. May 31, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"War" by Edwin Starr
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Diana Ross version)
September 19, 1970 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Cracklin' Rosie" by Neil Diamond
Preceded by
"Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" by Aretha Franklin
Billboard Best Selling Soul number-one single
October 3, 1970
Succeeded by
"I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5