"Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)"
"River Deep – Mountain High" is a 1966 single by Ike & Tina Turner. Considered by producer Phil Spector to be his best work, the single was successful in Europe, peaking at #3 in the United Kingdom, though it flopped on its original release in the United States. Spector claimed to be pleased with the response from the critics and his peers, but he then withdrew from the music industry for two years, beginning his personal decline.
After Eric Burdon and the Animals covered the song in 1968, it was re-released a year later, and has since become one of Tina Turner's signature songs, though it charted even lower, "bubbling under" at #112.
The track was recorded using Spector's "Wall of Sound" production technique, cost a then-unheard-of $22,000, and required 21 session musicians and 21 background vocalists. Due to Spector's perfectionism in the studio, he made Turner sing the song over and over for several hours until he felt he had the perfect vocal take for the song. Turner recalled, "I must have sung that 500,000 times. I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing."
The single entered the lower end of the Billboard 100 and stopped at #88 on the pop charts. Even though it had better fortune in the United Kingdom, peaking at #3 in the singles charts on first release, Spector was so disillusioned that he ceased involvement in the recording industry totally for two years, and only intermittently returned to the studio after that; he effectively became a recluse and began to self-destruct.
Ike Turner remarked that he felt the record did not do well in America because the sound was "pop or white", while Tina Turner's voice was R&B, so that "America mixes race in it" — though the writer Michael Billig speculated that although earlier records which had mixed black singers with a white pop sound had sold well, by 1966 the black political movement was encouraging African Americans to take a pride in their own culture, and "River Deep – Mountain High" was out of step with that movement.
George Harrison praised the record, declaring it "a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn't improve on it" "River Deep - Mountain High" compared a woman's love and loyalty, respectively, to that which a child feels for a doll, and a puppy has for his master.
A ten-minute version was recorded by Deep Purple for their 1968 album, The Book of Taliesyn. An edited version was released as a single in the United States and reached #53 in early 1969 and #42 on the Canadian RPM charts. It had a progressive rock sound to it, as Deep Purple had not yet adopted the hard rock sound for which they are most famous.
The original Ike and Tina Turner version of the song was re-released the same year to a more receptive public, and since then, has gained the recognition Spector wanted from the record. Numerous versions have been recorded since, including two different recordings that do not feature Spector's "Wall of Sound" production style: one featured on 1973's Nutbush City Limits LP and another from an undetermined era that was featured on 1991's Proud Mary: The Best of Ike & Tina Turner, as well as some by Tina Turner herself without Ike Turner, recorded in 1986, 1991 and 1993 respectively.