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Ghostbusters: Afterlife Soundtrack/Score Album Audio CD Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Mar. 12, 2022 at 11:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Music
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On December 3, 2021, Sony Classical released the Ghostbusters: Afterlife Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album featuring the score music from the film. Read on to find out more about it...

Before I get into this, I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the Spook Central VIPs for providing the funds that allowed me to buy this item and review it for all of you. This item was NOT provided by the manufacturer.

Although the album is called the "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack", it does not contain the various licensed music (aka "needle drops") used in the film. This is actually the "Original Motion Picture SCORE" album featuring the music cues composed by Rob Simonsen and Elmer Bernstein. Let's start by taking a look at the track list as shown on the back cover:

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The total time is 1:09:57 and, as you can see, the tracks are listed in movie order! That's a HUGE improvement over Sony Classical's previous score albums for Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. The track names might be considered a spoiler to some, but at this point, I doubt there's anyone left who wants to see the film that hasn't already. It's also interesting to note that Track #8 is titled "Culpable", but in the movie, Gary used the word "liable" instead (after opening the trap). This makes make wonder if there's an alternate take in which he said "culpable", or if that word was originally scripted, and it was changed to "liable" while shooting.

If you love Elmer Bernstein's Ghostbusters score, you'll like this. That's because 90% of the music is what Mr. Bernstein wrote. That makes this feel more like Rob Simonsen doing covers of Bernstein's work than an original score of his own. Some of it may have been completely lifted from the Bernstein score album. Track #12 ("Go Go Go") sounds exactly the same as the piece Bernstein wrote (Track #18 "Who Brought The Dog") for the scene where Louis is being chased through Central Park by the Terror Dog.

Here's the entire Simonsen Track #12 "Go Go Go".


Now here's Bernstein's entire original Track #18 (from the 2019 Sony album) "Who Brought The Dog".


They sound nearly identical. The Simonsen track is a little shorter, but that's about it. I hope Bernstein's estate was paid handsomely for the reuse of Elmer's work.

Originality, or lack thereof aside, the quality of the music, in and of itself, sounds great. It's quite rich and clear, and makes excellent use of the stereo space between my headphones.

Moving on, let's take a quick look at the packaging.

The ten-page liner booklet features a cover that uses the movie's original poster artwork showing Ecto-1 in the Summerville main street flanked by the cast all looking towards spectral activity at the Shandor Mines. The booklet's back cover features a photo of Gary holding the Ghost Trap in the classroom.

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On pages 1 and 2 you'll find a two-page photo of Phoebe in the gunner seat zapping Muncher out in the wild, while the track list and main credits are on page 1.

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Pages 3 and 4 contain a two-page photo of Muncher screaming out in pain while being zapped in the streets.

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Page 3 has the following "Director's Note" from Jason Reitman:
Rob Simonsen is huddled over the mixing console, lost in a puzzle. A musical riddle. He's looping the same stanza on repeat - a brassy fat tire blast of Gozerian doom that anyone would recognize from the 1984 score. Something's missing. A small detail in an overwhelming soundtrack that Simonsen has created with painstaking accuracy and emotion. A classically composed power score that could stand alongside the work of Williams, Horner, Silvestri, and of course the originator, Elmer Bernstein. In approaching Ghostbusters, Rob became an archeologist, studying the vast legacy of sheet music from Bernstein and digging up the mic plots for the '84 orchestral sessions. He auditioned tack pianos in various states of untuning. He recorded Ondes Martenot maestro Cynthia Millar at Abbey Road. Beyond the nostalgia, Simonsen created a work of music that crackles with each neutrona blast and swells as a broken family becomes one again. It's a creative tightrope that must be done in front of the largest audience and brightest spotlight. Any note out of place and it will be noticed. He makes it look easy. It really isn't. So, I understand why he's arched over the mixing board. But then he looks up and smiles. He turns to me and says "contrabassoon". A wind player unleashes a five-foot curling reed instrument that rumbles on the low end. Mics are placed and faders are raised. I close my eyes. For a moment, I'm seven years old again, watching Elmer with the orchestra.
Pages 5 and 6 feature a collage of six stills from the movie.

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Pages 7 and 8 have a two-page photo of Phoebe firing the Proton Pack for the first time in the field. The names of all of the individual musicians are listed on the left (page 6) with some Music Preparation credits under Phoebe on the right (page 7).

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Pages 9 and 10 show off a two-page photo of the Ecto-1 racing towards the spectral storm at the mines. The bottom half of each page contains album credits.

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As seen in the front/back image at the top of this article, the back cover shows the Ecto-1 racing down the country road. The inlay image (what appears under the disc) is the kids looking down the sacrificial pit in the mines.

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(click to enlarge)

The disc features the movie's dirty and worn rivet logo.

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Despite the score leaning more towards being a rip-of of Elmer Bernstein's work than a homage to it, this album is highly recommended.

The Ghostbusters: Afterlife Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is available on Audio CD and Digital MP3. Amazon Canada also has the Audio CD. (UPDATE: The vinyl record was released on June 24, 2022. However, as reviewed by Ghostbusters News, it is missing half of the album [it only has 13 out of 25 tracks] and the packaging is very basic. It's limited to 2,500 copies and looks to be a cheap cashgrab. I do not suggest buying it until the full album is released on vinyl. Stick with the CD or digital version until that happens.)

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