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
GenrePop, soul
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 pop/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, 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 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 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.[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.

Personnel[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[4] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[5]
digital sales since 2004
Platinum 600,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+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 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.[6] 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.

In 2017, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was remixed by Eric Kupper, StoneBridge and Chris Cox, amongst others, on Motown/UMe.[7] The new remix went to number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.[8]

Chart history[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom 109,000^

Notable remakes and usage in media[edit]

See also[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. ^ "Danish single certifications – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  5. ^ "British single certifications – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 501.
  7. ^ "Diana Ross – Ain't No Mountain High Enough / Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow". discogs. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  8. ^ "Dance Club Songs – January 20, 2018". Billboard. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  9. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002]
  10. ^ "Top 100 1970-09-26". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  11. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  13. ^ "Allmusic: Inner Life – Awards". Billboard. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  14. ^ Chart Position @ Australian-Charts.com Retrieved May 3, 2009
  15. ^ https://www.billboard.com/music/diana-ross/chart-history/DSI

External links[edit]