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"
Released April 20, 1967
Format 7-inch single
Recorded December 1966 – February 1967
Studio Hitsville USA, Detroit, Michigan
Genre
Length 2:28
Label Tamla (T-54149)
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell singles chronology
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
(1967)
"Your Precious Love"
(1967)
"Aint No Mountain High Enough"
(1967)
"Your Precious Love"
(1967)

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is an R&B/soul 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, 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 entry to Motown. Nick called it the 'golden egg'."[1] Dusty recorded a similar verse melody in 'I'm Gonna Leave You' on Dusty.

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.

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"
Released July 16, 1970
Format 7-inch single
Recorded March 13, 14, and 18, 1970
Studio Hitsville USA (Studio A), Detroit, Michigan
Genre Soul
Length 3:32
Label Motown (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)
"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
(1970)
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
(1970)
"Remember Me"
(1970)

In late 1969, 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 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, Jo Armstead, Ashford & Simpson and Brenda Evans and Billie Calvin of The Undisputed Truth 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] Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This version is in the key of C minor for most of the song, then towards the end, the key changes to F sharp major.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Notable covers/Usage in media[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Gaye/Terrell version[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Valerie Simpson interview; Ashford and Simpson remembered". Chicago Tribune. 
  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. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002]
  6. ^ a b "1969: The Top 100 Soul/R&B Singles". Rate Your Music. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-27. 
  8. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970–1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  10. ^ "Top 100 1970 - UK Music Charts". Uk-charts.top-source.info. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  11. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  12. ^ "Allmusic: Inner Life – Awards". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  13. ^ Chart Position @ Australian-Charts.com Retrieved May 3, 2009
  14. ^ "DHL Express presents "The International Specialists"". DHL. May 31, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011. [permanent dead link]

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