Interscope - 2001 - 72 minutes
The CD companion of Michael Mann's Oscar-nominated biopic carries on the inlay the dreaded soundtrack caveat: "not all tracks appear in the motion picture." No great loss in some cases either as a handful of the songs on 'Ali' would fail to do justice to the great man's story.
The main whipping boy is R Kelly who does for boxing what he did for Batman, with his ballads 'The World's Greatest' and 'Hold On' so treacle heavy that you need waders to get through them. Other underwhelming efforts come from Everlast, Shawn Kane and Bilal. But lest you think it's a total non-event, 'Ali' does have its moments: Alicia Keys captures the late 60's/early 70's vibe perfectly on 'Fight', Salif Kieta's 'Tomorrow' is as haunting on disc as during the 'Rumble in the Jungle' sequence of the movie, and there are also great versions of Sam Cooke's 'A Change is Gonna Come' and 'Bring it on Home to Me' by Al Green and David Elliot.
The best however, is left 'til the close with Lisa Gerrard's performance on 'See the Sun'. If you liked what she did on the 'Gladiator' soundtrack, you will adore what she does here. But as her voice trails off you're left with one abiding thought: why weren't more of the soul and blues standards from the film put on the soundtrack and given to a younger audience who might not even know that such treasures exist? That would've elevated 'Ali' into a real contender.
Tracklisting: R Kelly: The World's Greatest - Alicia Keys: Fight - R Kelly: Hold On - Al Green with Booker T and The MG's: A Change is Gonna Come - Aretha Franklin: Ain't No Way - Bilal: Sometimes - Angie Stone: 20 Dollars - Truth Hurts: For Your Precious Love - David Elliot: Bring it on Home to Me - Everlast: The Greatest - Shawn Kane: Mistreated - Salif Keita: Tomorrow - The Watchtower Four: All Along the Watchtower - Martin Tillman: Odessa - Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke: See The Sun