Monday, 19 January 2009

Random play: Diana Ross

Ain't No Mountain High Enough from Diana's first solo album; easily the best song she ever recorded, probably my favourite Ashford and Simpson tune, and a better version than Marvin and Tammi's in my opinion.

This is the full length album version which, from the beautiful string intro (I suspect this was playing in the studio somewhere when ABC were working on the Lexicon Of Love), to the huge testifying of the coda, is epic with a capital E.

And then there is that moment, the massive crescendo in the middle that for me the whole song revolves around. "I know, I know you must follow the sun where ever it leads" the track is just rising upwards behind Diana's spoken part teasing you for the longest time, "just remember what I told you the day I set you free"...... And then BANG "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" over those funky stop starts. I don't think Diana ever sounded better or more soulful on the second half of this song, and the arrangement and playing (the fabulous Funk Brothers) is just superb.

It's one of those Motown tunes that everybody knows, but it never ever sounds stale to me. It defines the word "Uplifting".

Diana Ross - Ain't No Mountain High Enough


ally. said...

it's very hard to type with your hands in the air and i think mine are stuck there after the ecstatic wonder of this - haven't heard it for ages and gee but it's blown away some cobwebs...super!

Simon said...


Planet Mondo said...

I've been a micro Diana buzz - but the Touch Me In The Morning period

lil said...

Many Thanx for posting, I luv it!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, exactly what you said.

Some time ago I wrote about the song as well, though not quite capturing the feeling as well as you do. Is it permissible to quote myself in a comment???

"You have to adore a song that can move the listener to (unintentional) laughter while at the same time touch them with the rather desperate stalker sentiment. Rarely has La Ross sung better as she does here. When she speaks the dramatically phrased words: “Remember what I told you the day I set you free” and then launches into the “Aa-haaas” and “Oo-hoos” and that fierce “Eouw” as the backing singers do the chorus and the music punches your guts, shivers must run down your spine if you are at all human. One is willing to believe what she sings: with her enormous feet, not any obstacle should be big enough to keep her from “you”."

Simon said...

Ah yes, her flipper feet!

I think you capture that moment better than I did; that whole song is about that moment I think; it sounds like that was their aim.

And Ms Ross is quite possibly, despite her success over the years, one of the most underrated singers. Over the years though, technical ability has become the marker for 'soul' and left behind has been the the amount of feeling that somebody can tease out of a syllable with a whisper or a sigh. Sometimes the smaller things are far more moving.

Not that she couldn't belt it out when she needed to...

Anonymous said...

Where Roddy nicked his intro to the single release version of Walk Out To WInter. Loved the fact that the Postcard boy did that. Think Edwyn's NIle Rogers fascination probably helped him!