Ain't No Mountain High Enough

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"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Anhme1967.jpg
Single by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
from the album United
B-side"Give a Little Love"
ReleasedApril 20, 1967
RecordedDecember 1966 – February 1967
StudioHitsville USA, Detroit, Michigan
Genre
Length2:28
LabelTamla (T-54149)
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell singles chronology
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
(1967)
"Your Precious Love"
(1967)

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is a song written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla label, a division of Motown. The composition was first successful as a 1967 hit single recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and became a hit again in 1970 when recorded by former Supremes frontwoman Diana Ross. The song became Ross's first solo number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.[3]

Background[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 entry to Motown. Nick called it the 'golden egg'."[4] Springfield recorded a similar verse melody in "I'm Gonna Leave You" on Dusty.[citation needed]

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 the recording sessions 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.[5] "Ain't No Mountain" peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard pop charts, and went to number three on the R&B charts.[6] Billboard's original review of the single stated "Chalk up another pulsating fast smash for Gaye with his new partner Tammi Terrell. The electricity of the duo combined with the blockbuster rhythm material grooves all the way."[7]

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"). In 1999, the Gaye/Terrell version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[8]

The Gaye/Terrell version was included in the soundtrack for the 2000 film Remember the Titans as well as the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1967) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 19
US Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles (Billboard)[10] 3
Chart (2013) Peak
position
France (SNEP)[11] 90
UK Singles (OCC)[12] 80

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[13] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[14] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[15]
Digital sales since 2004
2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

The Supremes and Temptations version[edit]

Diana Ross & the Supremes 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.

Diana Ross solo version[edit]

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Diana-anmhe.jpg
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Diana Ross
B-side"Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow"
ReleasedJuly 16, 1970
RecordedMarch 13, 14, and 18, 1970
StudioHitsville USA (Studio A), Detroit, Michigan
GenreSoul
Length
  • 6:18 (album version)
  • 3:32 (single version)
LabelMotown (M 1169)
Songwriter(s)Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Producer(s)Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
(1970)
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
(1970)
"Remember Me"
(1970)

In spring 1970, after the Top 20 success of her first solo 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, but was convinced to make the recording. The remake was a complete reworking of the song, featuring a style similar to gospel with elements of classical music strings and horns, and spoken word passages from Ross. The Andantes, Jimmy Beavers, Jo Armstead, Ashford & Simpson and Brenda Evans and Billie Calvin of the Undisputed Truth were used as backing singers, giving the song a soul and gospel vocal element. Ross' version of the song was released on July 19, 1970 as the second and final single from her solo self-titled 1970 debut album by Motown. It is also featured in the 2005 film Chicken Little (2005 film) and the soundtrack of the same name.

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 to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts.[16] Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song is performed in the key of C minor for most of the song, changing to F sharp major towards its conclusion.

In 2017, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was remixed by Eric Kupper, StoneBridge and Chris Cox, amongst others, on Motown/UMe.[17] The remix peaked at number one on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart.[18]

Personnel[edit]

Chart history[edit]

Other notable covers[edit]

  • In 1981, American disco band Inner Life released their version, which reached No. 20 on the U.S. Dance chart.[25] It is particularly noted for the 10 minute Larry Levan remix.
  • In 1981, Boys Town Gang recorded a medley of the song "Remember Me" together with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". The single was a No. 5 U.S. Dance hit and a top 20 hit in Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • In 1991, Australian singer Jimmy Barnes released an album of soul remakes titled Soul Deep, including his rock version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". His version reached No. 28 in Australia in 1992.[26]
  • In 2018, a remix of the Diana Ross version reached No. 1 on the US Dance Club Songs chart.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The 20 greatest love songs of all time". NME. February 9, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  2. ^ Guarisco, Donald A. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  3. ^ "1970 Grammy Winners". www.grammy.com. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  4. ^ "Valerie Simpson interview; Ashford and Simpson remembered". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ Chin, Brian (2001). Liner notes for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: The Complete Duets. New York: Motown Records/UMG Recordings.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits. New York, NY: Billboard Books, 2006. Print.
  7. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. May 6, 1967. p. 20. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  8. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". The GRAMMYs. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  9. ^ "Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  10. ^ "Marvin Gaye Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  11. ^ "Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  12. ^ "Marvin Gaye: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  13. ^ "Danish single certifications – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "Italian single certifications – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved January 2, 2022. Select "2018" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  15. ^ "British single certifications – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 501.
  17. ^ "Diana Ross – Ain't No Mountain High Enough / Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow". discogs. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  18. ^ "Dance Club Songs – January 20, 2018". Billboard. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  19. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002]
  20. ^ "Top 100 1970-09-26". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  22. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. July 17, 2013.
  23. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  24. ^ "Top 50 Adult Contemporary Hits of 1970". 45cat.com. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  25. ^ "Allmusic: Inner Life – Awards". Billboard. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  26. ^ Chart Position @ Australian-Charts.com Retrieved May 3, 2009
  27. ^ "Diana Ross". Billboard.com. Retrieved June 7, 2021.

External links[edit]