Ali Soundtrack, Import
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Michael Mann's warts 'n' all biopic of three-time heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali spans the most triumphant and turbulent decade of the legend's career. But like many a film marketing plan, its first soundtrack release seemed more concerned with selling CDs to those less familiar with Ali--and oddly, Mann's powerful film itself--than with accurately documenting the film's true musical soul. This second volume corrects that misstep, collecting much of Lisa Gerrard's and previous collaborator and former Dead Can Dance sideman Pieter Bourke's atmospheric, largely electronic underscore as well as an eclectic, less obviously pop-conscious slate of songs and music by Chicago bluseman Mighty Joe Young, nouveau R&B drum/bass/vocal merchants Dungeon East and Whild Peach, trans-genre cellist Martin Tillman, and Malian vocal legend Salif Keita. It's a release that variously seems better attuned to the director's own adventurous tastes in film scoring, more emblematic of Ali's own complex character and international legacy--and, more importantly, an ambience-rich document of the film's true musical and artistic spirit. --Jerry McCulley
My husband and I both love it, and whenever I feel discouraged, this CD is all I need to feel empowered again!
In Ali's case, no. I love Ali. I love Ali's story. I even love watching Michael Mann directing Will Smith playing Ali, and if you are a fan of the champ, see the film.
When I did, I heard the Aretha Franklin track, here included, a blues track, which is not included, and some modern R&B which I thought I could at least enjoy if not love.
Ali the soundtrack is dominated by this modern R&B--R Kelly for example; song after song of this material making references to "the greatest," and the "Champ." All by artists who probably weren't born during Ali's active years, and sung in modern digital production, clean as a gauze bandage and as sterile.
The 1960's R&B of the Franklin track is strangely out of place on the album, and the modern tracks seem strangely out of place for a film set from 1960-1975. I wonder how many artists singing here really understand the turmoil of the era and why Ali was so important to the times, because if they do, it doesn't show in the music
I am not saying atmospheric music can't work in a film about this era--it does. And I am not denying my basis against modern R&B in favor of vintage blend. But Ali as film soundtrack gives you little sense of the Ali the film's milieu, and is more cheerleading for "The Greatest" then giving you a sense of the story that made him "The Greatest." I could turn on any modern FM R&B station to hear music like this, and given the choice between that and this soundtrack, I don't want to do either.