Original Soundtrack

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Ali Review

by William Ruhlmann

This second volume of music from Ali, released to coincide with the Academy Award nominations, which were generous to the film, contains some of the original score by former Dead Can Dance member Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke, whose previous movie work includes The Insider, also directed by Michael Mann, and Gladiator with Hans Zimmer; a couple of blues and soul numbers; and a couple of tracks by Salif Keita. The nearly 15 minutes of scoring is in an ambient style for the most part, with sustained, repetitive musical patterns and largely wordless vocals. Martin Tillman's instrumental "Ceremony" is in the same somber style, though it uses more acoustic instrumentation. "As the Years Go Passing By" is an excellent blues tune from 1974 performed by Mighty Joe Young, while "That's How It Feels" is a real find, the 1968 B-side of the Top 40 R&B single "Soul Meeting" by the Soul Clan, which was an all-star summit of male soul singers consisting of Solomon Burke, Arthur Conley, Don Covay, Ben E. King, and Joe Tex. Keita's two tracks, reflecting the African setting of Mohammed Ali's 1974 reclamation of the world heavyweight crown in Zaire, are affecting performances in the moody style of the entire record. The music, from various sources, holds together, but really only makes sense in the context of the film.

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