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Soul and r&b legend Ray Charles may not have lived to see the success of Hollywood's ultimate tribute to him, but director Taylor Hackford's biopic (featuring a landmark performance by Jamie Foxx as the musical legend) will further burnish his legacy as one of the cornerstones of contemporary American music. Though it stretches from 1953's ecstatic, proto-soul "Mess Around" to a sublime, bluesy live take of "Georgia On My Mind" recorded in Japan in the mid-70's, this 17-track song-score can only be an inviting appetizer to the singer's epochal body of work. Charles' artistry may have virtually defined soul music itself, yet it also triumphed in genres as far afield as blues blues ("Nightime is the Right Time") and country ("I Can't Stop Loving You," "Bye Bye Love") during the 60's, the impossibly rich era from which the bulk of this soundtrack is culled. Crucially, fully a third of the cuts here are live recordings -- including electrifying 1965 performances of "What'd I Say," "You Don't Know Me" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So" hand-picked for the film by Charles himself -- the forum in which the singer consistently operated on a whole other artistic plateau from mere mortals. -- Jerry McCulley