River Deep, Mountain High



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Tina Turner - River Deep, Mountain High (Tina Live 2009)

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River Deep, Mountain High on Wikipedia
"River Deep – Mountain High"
Riverdeep-mountainhigh.jpgcover art by actor Dennis Hopper[1]
Single by Tina Turner
(Credited to Ike & Tina Turner)
from the album River Deep – Mountain High
B-side"I'll Keep You Happy"
ReleasedMay 1966
Format7" single
RecordedGold Star Studios, Los Angeles, 1965
GenreSoul, pop
LabelPhilles Records
Writer(s)Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich
Producer(s)Phil Spector[2]
Tina Turner
(Credited to Ike & Tina Turner) singles chronology
"River Deep, Mountain High"
Deep Purple - River Deep single.jpgCover of the 1969 French single
Single by Deep Purple
from the album The Book of Taliesyn
B-side"Listen, Learn, Read On"
ReleasedFebruary 1969
Format7" single
RecordedOctober 1968
at De Lane Lea, London
GenreHard rock, progressive rock
Length2:35 (single edit)
10:12 (album version)
LabelTetragrammaton (US)
Writer(s)Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich
Producer(s)Derek Lawrence
Deep Purple singles chronology
"River Deep Mountain High"
Single by Eric Burdon & the Animals
from the album Love Is
B-side"White Houses"
Format7" single
RecordedOctober 1968
GenreHard rock, soul
Length3:52 (single version)
7:26 (album version)
Writer(s)Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich
Producer(s)Tom Wilson
Eric Burdon & the Animals singles chronology
"River Deep – Mountain High"
Single by The Supremes & Four Tops
from the album The Magnificent 7
B-side"Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music"
ReleasedNovember 5, 1970
Format7" single
RecordedHitsville USA (Studio A); May 7, 11-12, 1970
GenreR&B, soul
Length3:14 (single version)
4:54 (album version)
Writer(s)Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich
Producer(s)Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
The Supremes chronology

"River Deep – Mountain High" is a 1966 single performed by Tina Turner and credited to Ike & Tina Turner. Considered by producer Phil Spector to be his best work,[3] the single was successful in Europe, peaking at number 3 in the United Kingdom, and peaking at number 16 in Australia[4] 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,[2] 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, the original version 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 number 112.

In 1999, "River Deep – Mountain High" was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.


  • 1 Recording
  • 2 Reception
  • 3 Personnel
  • 4 Cover versions
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Written by Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich, "River Deep – Mountain High" was among the first recordings that Ike & Tina Turner did for Phil Spector's Philles Records. Spector was well aware of Ike Turner's controlling attitude in the studio, and therefore he drafted an unusual contract: the River Deep – Mountain High album and single would be credited to "Ike & Tina Turner", but Ike was paid $20,000[5] to stay away from the studio, and only Tina Turner's vocals would be used on the record.[6]

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."[7]

The recording of the song was later dramatized for Tina Turner's biographical film, What's Love Got to Do with It.


The single entered the lower end of the Billboard 100 and stopped at number 88 on the pop charts. Even though it had better fortune in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 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.[8]

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.[8]

Later Rolling Stone was to put it at number 33 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

George Harrison praised the record,[2] declaring it "a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn't improve on it."[9][10] "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.


  • Lead vocals by Tina Turner
  • Written by Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich
  • Produced by Phil Spector
  • Arranged by Jack Nitzsche
  • Instrumentation by Leon Russell (keyboards), Jim Horn (Saxophone), Barney Kessel (guitar), Glen Campbell (guitar), Hal Blaine (drums), Earl Palmer (drums), Carol Kaye (bass guitar), Frank Capp (percussion).[11]

Cover versions

The original Ike & 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 herself without Ike, recorded in 1986, 1991 and 1993 respectively.[citation needed] Turner included live performances on her albums, Tina Live in Europe and Tina Live.

Harry Nilsson covered the track for his first full-length album the 1967 LP Pandemonium Shadow Show.[citation needed]

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 number 53 in early 1969 and number 42 on the Canadian RPM charts.[citation needed] 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.

In 1970, the post-Diana Ross Supremes and the Four Tops released a version. Produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the single was one of several recordings that paired the two Motown groups. The Supremes/Four Tops cover, included on the 1970 LP The Magnificent 7, with its soaring vocals and string section, peaked at number 7 on the soul chart and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971,[12] making it the highest-charting version of the song in the United States. Their version also peaked number 11 on the UK Singles Chart and number 25 on Netherlands' MegaCharts.[citation needed]

Céline Dion covered the song on her 1996 album Falling Into You.[13] She had previously performed the song in some of her concerts, as included in her live album Live à Paris, recorded in 1995.[14][15] Subsequent live performances are included on the CD/DVD releases, VH1 Divas Live, Taking Chances World Tour: The Concert, Céline une seule fois / Live 2013, as well as the DVD release, Live in Las Vegas: A New Day....[16][17][18][19] Dion's studio version is also included in her 2008 compilation, My Love: Essential Collection.[20] In 2016, Dion also performed this song live during her 2016 Summer Tour.[21]


  1. ^ Thompson, Dave (2003). Wall of Pain: the biography of Phil Spector, page 116, Sanctuary. ISBN 1860745431
  2. ^ a b c "Show 21 - Forty Miles of Bad Road: Some of the best from rock 'n' roll's dark ages. [Part 2] : UNT Digital Library". Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  3. ^ Ribowsky, Mark. He's a Rebel. Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2007.
  4. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts - 16 November 1966". Poparchives.com.au. 1966-11-16. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  5. ^ Equivalent to $147,631 in today's dollars.
  6. ^ Richard Williams, Phil Spector: Out of His Head. London: Omnibus Press. 2003. p. 111. ISBN 9780711998643. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  7. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Michael Billig, Rock 'n' roll Jews. Syracuse University Press. 2001. p. 110. ISBN 9780815607052. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  9. ^ Williams, Richard (2003). Phil Spector: Out of His Head. London: Omnibus Press. pp. 137–38. ISBN 9780711998643. 
  10. ^ Ribowsky, Mark (2006). He's a Rebel: Phil Spector – Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-306-81471-6. 
  11. ^ "Ike & Tina Turner Featuring Tina* – River Deep - Mountain High". Discogs.com. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 558. 
  13. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1996-03-12). "Falling into You - Céline Dion | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  14. ^ Jose F. Promis. "Live à Paris - Céline Dion | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-21. 
  16. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1998-10-06). "VH1 Divas Live - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-22. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-20. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-08. 
  21. ^ "Céline Dion, bouleversée, lance sa tournée hommage ŕ René (VIDÉOS)". Chartsinfrance.net. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 

External links

  • BBC.co.uk: Sold on Song - "River Deep - Mountain High"
  • Ralph MacLean
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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