Lyricists: Dave Stewart ; Glen Ballard; Bruce Joel Rubin.
Personnel: Ned Douglas (programming).
Liner Note Authors: Dave Stewart ; Glen Ballard; Bruce Joel Rubin.
Recording information: Air Studios, London.
Photographers: Matt Crockett; Sean Ebworth Barnes.
Arranger: Christopher Nightingale.
Continuing the West End's love affair with adapting classic chick flicks for the stage, Ghost: The Musical is the second Patrick Swayze film to receive the all-singing, all-dancing treatment, following Dirty Dancing, which closes the same month that this Matthew Warchus production opens at London's Piccadilly Theatre. Released a month before the curtain rises, this official soundtrack allows theater-goers a sneak preview of what they can expect from the supernatural tale of a murder victim caught between the real world and the next. Unlike many screen-to-stage musicals, the producers have luckily managed to acquire the rights to the film's most iconic song, the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody," which appears here in a stripped-back acoustic vocal version and a string-soaked instrumental. But elsewhere, there are 17 entirely new compositions, written by Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and legendary producer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Anastacia), which explain the angst-ridden pop/rock vibes of "I Can't Breathe," "Rain/Hold On," and "Suspend My Disbelief/I Had a Life," all of which are a refreshing change from the showboating jazz-hands approach favored by similar shows. Indeed, many of the numbers are capable of transcending their theatrical beginnings, thanks not only to the impressive vocals of Richard Fleeshman, who puts his Coronation Street Days firmly behind him as the male lead Sam, Canadian actress Caissie Levy (Hair, Wicked), who excels as grieving widow Molly, and former Nomad vocalist, Sharon Dee Clarke, who showcases her impressive lung power as fake psychic Oda Mae Brown. The songs' eclectic nature also helps, taking in country-pop ("Here Right Now"), menacing rap-rock ("Focus"), and disco-funk ("Talkin' Bout a Miracle"), although the tap-dancing vaudeville of "Ball of Wax" is perhaps one genre-hopping attempt too far, coming, rather inappropriately, immediately after the main character's death. Ghost: The Musical may be a little too pop-oriented for musical purists, but it's a solid collection of songs which effortlessly fits in with the story line and promises a long West End run ahead. ~ Jon O'Brien