Reviews | Written by Nick Spacek 01/01/2019


For the 30th anniversary of Tim Burton's afterlife comedy Beetlejuice, Waxwork Records went and remastered Danny Elfman's score. While the music has always been vibrant and bombastic, it's arguably never sounded this good before.

Geffen and UMe reissued the album on vinyl back in 2015, but it was essentially just the original 1988 album, repressed. This version, however, sounds positively monumental. The brass of which composer Elfman is so fond leaps out of the speakers right off the bat, with the main title theme rich and thunderous, but it's when the LP moves to the likes of "Enter...'The Family' / Sand Worm Planet" and "Lydia Discovers" that the real magic of the score starts to stand out.

It's on tracks such as these, where Elfman uses more strings and piano, that the score finds its more subtle footing. Given the repeated instances of mirrored scoring in Elfman's Beetlejuice score - pejoratively known as "Mickey Mousing" wherein the score effectively syncs up with the on-screen action - it's nice to see the composer willing to engage in mood creation in contrast to the rather more obvious bombast which makes up the bulk of the score.

"In the Model" and other pieces which utilise wood blocks and other percussion nicely nod to the two Harry Belafonte tracks, "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Jump In Line (Shake, Shake Senora)" which are just as integral to the film as Elfman's score and are almost inseparable from Beetlejuice in the minds of a generation.

The packaging, with artwork by Phantom City Creative, features a gatefold image of Beetlejuice in the waiting room of the afterlife which screams out to be released as a poster. It's gorgeous and funny and colorful, really balancing out the black and white color scheme which pervades the rest of the packaging, right down to the split color vinyl on which the record is pressed.

It's worth noting that "Day-O" is mixed a little hot, but that may be more due to the fact that the song was recorded not only in 1956, but in the Grand Ballroom of New York City's Webster Hall - a little more echoey and cavernous than most recording studios. Also, the back cover of the album jacket shows the first side of the LP as having 10 tracks, ending with "Sold", whereas the actual center labels present the correct track listing of 12 tracks, ending with "The Flier / Lydia's Pep Talk" and "Day-O" which originally kicked off the second side.