Jeff Barry: The Man and His Music

Jeff Barry: The Man and His Music
Official Fan Site

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sold on Song: River Deep, Mountain High

"River Deep, Mountain High" was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, and was recorded by Ike and Tina Turner in 1966 with Spector producing. The song, which is one of Jeff's favorites of his compositions, was outstanding; Tina Turner's vocals were thrillingly powerful and awesome; and the Phil Spector wall-of-sound production was larger than life. Yet for whatever reason, the record failed to become a hit in the U.S., barely entering the charts before disappearing entirely from airplay. The failure of "River Deep, Mountain High" had such a profound effect on Phil Spector that he virtually retired from the music business for several years.

Yet the song itself endured, as great songs do, and in 1971 it was revived by The Supreme & The Four Tops, who made it into the hit it should have been five years earlier.

Some time ago, during a Net search, I found a UK-based web page called Sold on Song, which is presented on the BBC Radio site. Sold on Song has a page dedicated to "River Deep, Mountain High," focusing primarily on the Ike and Tina Turner version which was a hit in England despite bombing in the States. There is a link to listen to not only Ike and Tina's recording but also several other versions by artists such as Neil Diamond and Deep Purple; the Supremes/Four Tops version is available for a listen as well. Jeff Barry fans in particular will enjoy the content of this page which features a couple of audio clips of Jeff talking about "River Deep, Mountain High." Other sections of the page can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate navigational tabs.

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