One&Done @ A&M: Ike & Tina Turner / River Deep ~ Mountain High -- SP 4178

JOv2

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  • Comments, questions, conjectures and stories are welcomed.
  • Released in 1969
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(Note: owing to both my own historical ignorance of this LP and its overall "convolution" as it were, I am unable to confirm and post the accurate 1969 A&M version at this time. Perhaps one of our Cornerites would care to pick up the slack...)
 
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Rudy

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This was released (barely) in 1966 on Philles Records, and was scrapped since the single (the title track) did not do well. London issued it in the UK in 1966 as well. Some consider it one of Spector's finest productions. A&M reissued it in 1969 and it finally achieved recognition, after other groups covered the title track.
 

rockdoctor

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I know this album existed from the color catalog but I never heard the Ike and Tina version until last September on Sirius XM radio.
I never saw this in the stores either.
 

Rudy

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As I stream it again via Qobuz as I write this, it's certainly an interesting album. I'm more used to the "Private Dancer" and "What's Love Got To Do With It?" version of Tina Turner. She belts out tunes quite a bit more than she did on her 80s career reboot. If I didn't know who was performing this, it would only have taken me a track or two to recognize Tina Turner's vocals--even back then, she had some of the gravelly touch to her voice.

The album has a split personality--there are some tracks produced by Spector (which pours on a heavy dose of the Wall of Sound), and others by Ike Turner which are more up front and direct.

So I could summarize it like this.

I prefer the Ike Turner tracks, in terms of production. The title track does have its allure with its bigger-than-life sound, but after another Spector-produced track or two, the muddiness and heavy handed overproduction wears thin quickly. I know Spector was devastated when this album's title track stiffed in the US, and it led to his retirement; he apparently considered it his finest work, but while listening to it, perhaps he was a bit delusional. It's so awash in reverb that it reminds me of walking into a gymnasium and being hit by a mass of sound. Throwing tons of orchestration, percussion and vocal harmonies into the mix and burying it in reverb might have seemed revolutionary to Spector, but on this record it's a liability.

Ike's tracks, on the other hand, have a nice late 60s clarity to them.

So, a fan of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound would probably dig this. Fans of late 60s/early 70s post-Motown R&B/soul would also enjoy this album, especially Ike's tracks. Because soul, R&B, funk and blues are right up my alley, I'm finding much to like here despite Spector ruining some of these tracks.

And if you're not a fan of this music, or Spector, you can safely pass it by. 🙂

Clean and lean, thanks to Ike Turner:



Overproduction, courtesy of Phil Spector:

 

JOv2

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t's so awash in reverb that it reminds me of walking into a gymnasium and being hit by a mass of sound.
And if you're not a fan of this music, or Spector, you can safely pass it by
My introduction to Spector was via All Things Must Pass, much of which was unlistenable based on the gymnasium sound. I guess when Lennon hired him to produce Plastic Ono Band, he must have told Spector to knock it off. For the A&M LP, the Ike-produced stuff is better sounding. I suppose in 1967 this stuff was somewhat unique; but 55 years later -- with all due consideration to the artists involved -- it sounds trite and hackneyed. That said, I'm confident its authenticity quickly eclipses the 696,495 copycat artists who've tried their hand at this sort of thing during the past half-century.
 

Mr Bill

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In the credits: Photography - Dennis Hopper.... Now that's interesting!

--Mr Bill
 

Michael Hagerty

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I went through my Spector appreciation phase, but I totally agree with JOv2 about the original mix of ALL THINGS MUST PASS. I vastly prefer the 50th anniversary remix, at least listening with earbuds.

I dug this version of "River Deep" when I finally stumbled onto it in the early 80s (none of the radio stations I grew up listening to every played it in the 60s), but I've gone back to preferring the Supremes/Four Tops version.

Really, the only Spector I still think works is a couple of the CHRISTMAS GIFT TO YOU tracks and "Black Pearl." Maybe "Instant Karma".
 

Rudy

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Really, the only Spector I still think works is a couple of the CHRISTMAS GIFT TO YOU tracks ....
Agreed--that album just might be his highlight. It does have a larger Wall of Sound, yet you can still hear what is going on in the background. And a few of the tracks are unique versions that make the album worth a listen.
 

JOv2

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I vastly prefer the 50th anniversary remix, at least listening with earbuds
Michael -- I'm intrigued...how would you characterize the sound of the 50th anniversary release? The most important question: how much much of the reverb wash was removed? (I'm normally not one for re-buying an album, but there are a few that feature abysmal sonics (Chicago, i.e., "Chicago II" is another that immediately comes to mind) that if re-worked I would definitely consider.)
 

Michael Hagerty

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Michael -- I'm intrigued...how would you characterize the sound of the 50th anniversary release? The most important question: how much much of the reverb wash was removed? (I'm normally not one for re-buying an album, but there are a few that feature abysmal sonics (Chicago, i.e., "Chicago II" is another that immediately comes to mind) that if re-worked I would definitely consider.)
I'm post-physical media now, so buying's not a concern. I listened to it on Spotify (cue Rudy---"Mike, you're a grownup who loves music. Get Qobuz!!!"), on my iPad with earbuds.

Before I started, I listened to the previous mix of the album that was in my Spotify library. I could already feel the fatigue by the third track. Then, with the sound fresh in my mind, I went back and re-started the album with the new mix.

It's the difference between hearing George and the band play in an aircraft hangar and sitting with them. It's just so much warmer and more intimate.

I have an acquaintance who's arguably way more of a music freak than I am and he hates the new mix. He says over studio reference speakers it sucks. He said he thought he'd blown a tweeter. I don't know. I did play it on a fairly high-end music system in one of the cars I was reviewing and I thought it was beautiful in that environment, too. I do know that he's enormously change-averse, so this could just be 50 years of "the way it's supposed to be" coming out in a rant from him.
 

Rudy

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2020 mix:



Original:



I'm not familiar enough with the tune or the album to know what the differences are. Both are "official" videos, so the sources are not in question. (2020 is via Universal; the original I think is a 2014 reissue.)


I have an acquaintance who's arguably way more of a music freak than I am and he hates the new mix. He says over studio reference speakers it sucks. He said he thought he'd blown a tweeter.
I think the purists are always upset if their precious originals are altered. As for the small amount I sampled of each track, to me both sound muddy, although the newer one strips away the reverb (it's not that heavy on the original). Probably just the way it was recorded. (Or in other words, you can't polish a turd...even if you remove the reverb from said turd.) Although I've had a few recent albums sound similarly dull...new recordings, not reissues. Maybe it's yet another annoying trend? Honestly, over a set of KEF LS50s, the difference in tonality is minimal, so I don't get that "blown tweeter" comment at all. It's better than some recordings or masterings I've heard in recent years.

Steven Wilson has some really good remixes under his belt, though. And most fans seem to like them. I think when it's anything Beatles, though, the fanatics consider any alteration at all to be one the greatest crimes on humanity. Me? I really don't care since I can take or leave 'em.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
2020 mix:



Original:



I'm not familiar enough with the tune or the album to know what the differences are. Both are "official" videos, so the sources are not in question. (2020 is via Universal; the original I think is a 2014 reissue.)



I think the purists are always upset if their precious originals are altered. As for the small amount I sampled of each track, to me both sound muddy, although the newer one strips away the reverb (it's not that heavy on the original). Probably just the way it was recorded. (Or in other words, you can't polish a turd...even if you remove the reverb from said turd.) Although I've had a few recent albums sound similarly dull...new recordings, not reissues. Maybe it's yet another annoying trend? Honestly, over a set of KEF LS50s, the difference in tonality is minimal, so I don't get that "blown tweeter" comment at all. It's better than some recordings or masterings I've heard in recent years.

Steven Wilson has some really good remixes under his belt, though. And most fans seem to like them. I think when it's anything Beatles, though, the fanatics consider any alteration at all to be one the greatest crimes on humanity. Me? I really don't care since I can take or leave 'em.
“My Sweet Lord” was probably the least altered—-possibly because Dhani Harrison knows it’s the most well-known. I’d really advocate someone listening to a few tracks in a row all the way through on the old version, then switch to the new mix and repeat.
 

Rudy

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I would imagine all are on YouTube for comparison. For the 2020 mix, as long as the video shows it was supplied to YouTube by Universal Music, it's legit. Also, the originals should all be under Harrison's YouTube channel.

I was able to tell that "My Sweet Lord" sounds cleaner--Harrison's voice has more clarity than on the original.
 

Harry

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I think I own one of the more desirable original CD issues of ALL THINGS MUST PASS. At least that's what I'm led to believe by the Discogs entry.


Someone years ago, might have been you Rudy, forwarded me a copy of most of the songs on one disc that were supposedly taken from the master tapes. When I compare that to the older CD version I have, they sound nearly identical. Both are not maximized, nor compressed, and they are quite listenable, if a little dull the high's department.

My other copy is one I wangled from the radio station when the 2000 version came out. It's rather brickwalled, but brighter. All of the original mixes are here, along with a few that were updated be George himself in 2000, just very shrill sounding. The older, less-bright, original Spector mixes sound OK for me. I hear the difference in the 2020 mix, but I'm not sure I like it. It sounds - "altered".
 

JOv2

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Thread Starter
Then there's this from 1971.

I'm 90% sure this gem was used in court during the My Sweet Lord--He So Fine litigation...primarily because it's a contemporary version of He So Fine and the pedal steel player uses George's famous guitar lick.

 

Another Son

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I haven't listened to Ike and Tina's album for a little while but I like it! 'River Deep, Mountain High' is a totally indispensable track that has helped to shape the path of a number of genres of music - although, it seems, it was not as ever-present in the US as it has been in some other countries.
 

Ricko

New Member
The original 1966 LP (Philles PHLP-4011) was pulled from US release because the 45s ("River Deep...", "A Love Like Yours" & "I'll Never Need More Than This") failed to chart in the US. Interestingly, that event serves as a chapter bookmark in Tina's recent HBO bio.

That was not the case elsewhere: "River Deep..." was a massive hit in many territories & so was "A Love Like Yours". The original Philles/London LP had a worldwide release via London records distributorship & was designed as a sort-of "Greatest Hits" introduction to non-R & B audiences. It served its purpose too: Ike & Tina became worldwide stars before they really broke in the US.

The original LP had another Ike Turner cut ("You're So Fine") but it was dropped from the 1969 stereo-only A&M release while "I'll Never Need More..." was added.

If the regular reissues of the album are anything to go by, A&M did very well out of it. It's rarely been out of print somewhere in the world. 🙂
 
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