BusBoys keyboard player Brian O'Neal wrote this song, which the group performed on the 1982 movie 48 HRS. O'Neal told Songfacts the story:
"The BusBoys were signed to Arista Records. We'd finished a series of tour dates in support of our first release Minimum Wage Rock and Roll and had spent about eight months recording our sophomore effort American Worker. Our manager at the time was Michael Klenfner, who was best friends with John Belushi and well connected with our agency ICM.
One of the songs on the American Worker album was called 'New Shoes.' It was a unique blend of rock and soul, with a cool shuffle back beat. Well, there was this movie being made called 48 HRS. at Paramount Studios. The film was originally slated to star Richard Pryor, but the newest, hottest young comedian of Saturday Night Live fame ended up in the role. The director was Walter Hill, the producers Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver. Both Walter and Eddie Murphy were represented by my aforementioned agency, ICM.
I get a call from my agent, asks if I wanted to be in this movie. I said I was interested and he set up a meeting with Joel Silver. Joel explained the film had a bar scene that Eddie was supposed to go into and there was going to be a band playing. Joel and Walter wanted a Black band that had a rock and roll edge. We were and still are one of the primary roots, rock and soul bands that fit the bill.
They had already heard 'New Shoes' and wanted four more songs. My brother, Kevin O'Neal and I wrote some songs over the next couple of weeks. At the recording session for the demos to present to Joel we had finished three songs: '48 Hours,' 'Love Songs Are For Crazies' and 'Monkey Mash.' It was 2:00 AM and the band was tired and ready to go home when I say 'Guys, I've got one more song.' Groans. 'It's going to be an easy, blues type shuffle with a little gospel opening piano lick - and it's going to be called - ' (me looking around) '- - The Boys Are Back - - In Town.'
We laid the track and I finished the lyrics and the vocal a few days later. When the tracks were all completed I thought we had three real songs and one 'filler.' As it turns out, 'The Boys Are Back In Town' became our signature tune and was featured in the movie. It doesn't have any connection with the Thin Lizzy song other than the title. I always liked their track, but wasn't thinking anything about it when I composed ours. I've since come to think of theirs as an English approach and ours an expression of American rock, roll and soul. The movie and the song became wildly popular. For reasons only conspiracy theorists can explain, the song wasn't released when the movie first came out. For almost twenty years it was probably the most famous song in the history of America that had never been released. We finally made the song available to the public on our CD by the same name in 2000.
It's been a long, storied ride for the song and The BusBoys. It includes some wild partying that we did with Eddie on his Delirious Tour, him dressing up as a member of the band when we performed it on Saturday Night Live, Linda Ronstadt singing her version while on tour with her, and it working for an American Idol contestant (Jessica Sierra - season 4). The band, the song and the stories continue onward, while a book, a movie and more touring loom near. If you've never heard the song it's a pure slice of American bump bumpin', rock and roll, rhythm and blues. The Boys Are Back!"