Marvin Gaye / Tammi Terrell

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Song Review by

Marvin Gaye had enjoyed some duet success via his work with Kim Weston on "It Take Two" but he took the soul duet style to its greatest heights on the albums he recorded with Tammi Terrell. This historic pairing enjoyed a hit right out of the box with their debut single "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a crossover hit that became one of the 1960's most enduring soul classics. The lyrics present a promise between two lovers who keep their separation from diminishing the feelings they have for each other by promising to always be there in a time of need: "Ain't no mountain high enough/Ain't no valley low enough/Ain't no river wide enough/To keep me from getting to you, babe." The melody lives up to the rousing quality of these sentiments by pairing soaring verse melodies that convey the sweep of the narrators' emotions with a grand-standing chorus that underline their mutual promises with a heroic sense of punch. Gaye and Terrell's recording is a classic Motown combination of pop sweetness and soulful fire: the stately strings give the song an ear-catching sweetness but the hard-hitting drumwork and the pulsing, staccato bassline maintain a quick, driving pace. However, the true hook of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is the impressive chemistry between Gaye and Terrell: she balances his gospel grit during the verses with a sweet alto tone but he steps back to let her voice soar over his during the show-stopping chorus. The way their leads intertwine is nothing short of magical so it was no surprise when "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" became a big hit, going top-five on the R&B charts and top-20 on the pop charts. It also inspired a solo cover by Diana Ross that reworked the song into the soul music equivalent of an aria - this epic rendition was a major hit but the Gaye/Terrell version remains the biggest favorite with many listeners. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" continues to be a staple of oldies radio today and recently made an appearance on the soundtrack of the film Stepmom, where it was treated to an energetic lip-synching by Susan Sarandon.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
United 1967 Motown / Universal 2:32
Greatest Hits [Motown] 1971 Motown 2:27
Motown Story 1971
Various Artists
Motown 0:00
Anthology [1974] 1974 Motown 2:30
Marvin Gaye & His Women 1985 Motown 2:28
The Marvin Gaye Collection 1990 Motown 0:00
The Story of Soul Music 1995
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 0:00
The Master 1961-1984 1995 Motown 2:27
Ultimate Driving Collection: Motor City Motoring 1995
Various Artists
Arsenal 2:28
Anthology: The Best of Marvin Gaye 1995 Motown 2:28
Soul [Friedman/Fairfax] 1995
Various Artists
Friedman Fairgfax 2:27
Forever Yours 1997 DTS Entertainment / Digital Sound 2:21
Soul [Book & CD] 1999
Various Artists
Friedman Fairgfax 2:29
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell 2000 Motown / Uptown / Universal 2:29
Lifetime Music Presents: Weddings of a Lifetime 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:28
United/You're All I Need 2001 Universal International 2:31
The Very Best of Marvin Gaye [Motown 2001] 2001 UTV / Motown 2:28
The Essential Collection 2001 Spectrum Music 2:35
Motown Gold 2001
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:28
The Complete Duets 2001 Motown / Universal Distribution 2:31
Party Explosion!!! 2001
Various Artists
Columbia 2:26
The Love Songs of Motown 2003
Various Artists
Motown 2:27
The Motown Story, Vol. 1: The Sixties 2003
Various Artists
Motown 3:50
The Marvin Gaye Collection [2003] 2003 Motown 3:00
WCBS FM: Motown, Soul and Rock N Roll: Motown 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 0:00
Gold: Greatest Hits [Universal Canada] 2004 Universal Distribution / Universal International 2:26
Icons 2004 Motown 2:26
Gold 2005 Motown 2:28
Best of Motown, Vol. 3 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:27
Marvel of Marvin 2005 Harmless 2:29
Peabo Bryson Presents Classic Soul Ballads 2005
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 0:00
The Motown Box 2005
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:38
No Image 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Soul Legends 2006 MSI Music Distribution / Universal International 2:29
Very Best of Marvin Gaye [Canada Import] 2006 Solitudes 2:30
Motown Classics 2006
Various Artists
Drew's Famous 2:28
More Motown Classics Gold 2007
Various Artists
Motown 2:28
The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 7: 1967 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O Select / Motown 2:28
Playlist Plus 2008 Motown 2:27
Playlist Plus: Motown 50th Anniversary 2008
Various Artists
Motown 2:29
The 60s Collection 2008
Various Artists
Brunswick 2:28
Favorites 2008 Universal Distribution 2:26
Motown for Kids 2008
Various Artists
Motown 2:28
Sounds of the 60's Generation 2008
Various Artists
Destra 2:30
The Complete Collection 2008 Motown / Universal 2:27
Motown 50 Fanthology 2009
Various Artists
Motown 3:35
Motortown Review 2009
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:36
Sweet Soul Music: 1967 2009
Various Artists
Bear Family Records
No Image 2009
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:26
The Motown Collection 2010
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:29
Love Songs 2011 Motown 2:29
Just Dance, Vol. 4 2011
Various Artists
Universal / Universal Music 3:26
Classic Love Songs of the '60s: Sealed With a Kiss 2013
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:28
Best of Marvin Gaye 2013 Motown 2:27
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 2014
Various Artists
Hollywood 2:31
Guardians of the Galaxy [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2014 Hollywood 2:31
Higher Ground: Happy Birthday Marvin Gaye Mix 2019 Motown / Universal 2:22
Hitsville: The Making of Motown 2019
Various Artists
Motown 2:27
20 #1’s: Movie Love Songs
Various Artists
Hip-O / Universal 2:28
A Motown Thanksgiving Celebration
Various Artists
Motown 2:26
No Image Universal 3:35
I Am Happy
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal 2:26
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 2:30
No Image
Various Artists
Motown
The Best of Marvin Gaye: Green Series Strategic Marketing 2:29
The Motown Story
Various Artists
Universal 2:28
The Roots of Motown
Various Artists
Universal / Universal Music / Universal Music Canada 2:39
What a Wonderful World [Reflections]
Various Artists
Reflections 2:26