Ghostbusters Original Soundtrack Album – A Personal Retrospective

Ghostbusters is something I’ve loved since I was five years old. Not only have I seen the movie countless times, but I’ve listened to the soundtrack on multiple platforms including cassette, vinyl (which I borrowed from my local library), compact disc, and digital.

So when I was perusing the vinyl section of a local music shop and came across the 30th Anniversary re-release of the soundtrack, I felt nostalgically obligated to purchase it.

What follows is a track by track review that my five year old self never knew would exist.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr. The quintessential movie theme of my lifetime. While there are multiple themes that are instantly recognizable (Jaws, Rocky, Shaft), nothing that has come out in the first 35 years of my life has been more ubiquitous. As a kid running around the house wearing my proton pack, asking my mother if she had seen any ghosts, this song played through my head nonstop. As a 35 year old reminiscing on those days, I wonder if the line “Bustin’ makes me feel good’ would get past the FCC.

I was never a fan of the music video for this song. Mostly because my suspension of disbelief couldn’t handle Bill Murray’s hair being slightly longer than it is in the movie. Five year old Chris was very particular.

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Cleanin’ Up The Town – The Bus Boys With the number of times I’ve seen this movie, I can sync the scene in the film with the song as I’m listening to it. Dr.’s Stantz, Spengler & Venkman high-tailing it out of the library will always be in my head when I hear this track. What ever happened to the Bus Boys? A quick search on Amazon Music brings up a ‘Best of’ album. With no other albums listed, I’m thinking maybe that’s the name of the album, and not a traditional ‘best of’. IDK, man..

Savin’ the Day – Alessi Brothers This is the Ghostbusters equivalent of Rocky IV’s ‘War’. This song sets up the third and final act of the film with a sense of grandeur. The National Guard is called in, the Ecto-1 is barreling towards Central Park West with a police escort, numerous GB supporters are standing outside the haunted complex cheering on their saviors. It creates a sense of excitement that only the Alessi Brothers can deliver. I’ve actually downloaded an Alessi Brothers album and I didn’t hear anything that sounds like this sing. Not even close.

In the Name of Love – Thompson Twins I can’t say this with total certainty, but this may be the song that got me hooked on New Wave. An instrumental version of this song would make a killer ringtone.

I Can Wait Forever – Air Supply This was one of two songs on the album that I hit fast forward on. Actually, this was the last track on Side One, so it was more of a turn over the cassette and rewind to the beginning of Side Two kind of thing. The only funny moment I can think of is in the scene where this song is playing, Ray walks into his office at the university as it’s being cleaned out and says “Hey, Dean Yeager!’. But, as a kid I heard it as “Aideen Yeager!” like he was supposed to be a famous person that I should have recognized.

Hot Night – Laura Branigan I remember that my sister liked this song. This is either because it’s the only song that featured a female lead singer or because it’s a song that’s so 80′s it’s impossible to not enjoy. Lyrics like ‘It’s gonna be a hot night/We’re gonna have a hot night tonight /It’s gonna be a hot night/We won’t get no sleep tonight/Too hot, it’s too hot‘ can’t be ignored. Also, I’m pretty sure that the guitar riff was ripped off and used as the entrance theme for the WWF tag team, The Rockers. Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty must’ve really been into Laura Branigan.

Magic – Mick Smiley As an adult, this has become my favorite song on the album. Smiley has a very Gerry Rafferty-like sound that fans of adult contemporary will enjoy. Interestingly enough, Mick never landed a recording contract. A music video was shot for this song, but was never released since Arista Records declined to release this song as a single. The version used in the film varies slightly from the soundtrack and, even as a 5 year old, it bothered me. The full length soundtrack version would’ve fit perfectly into the film and I’m not sure whose decision it was to change it. Five year old Chris continues to be displeased.

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That’s it and that’s all.

Main Title Theme – Elmer Bernstein In my humble opinion, this song has become as synonymous with Ghostbusters as the actual theme song. Bernstein obviously has a knack for capturing the spirit of the film with his music.

Dana’s Theme – Elmer Bernstein This was the second song I would fast forward on this album. I’ve grown to enjoy is more as an adult, but I couldn’t help myself as a kid because of what came next:

Ghostbusters (Instrumental) – Ray Parker, Jr. Just as listenable as the original version, but now you can karaoke. .

What I love most about this album is that, for me, it’s held up since I first heard it over 30 years ago. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found something new to admire about it. And this is exactly what music is supposed to do.