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Jeff Wayne - The War Of The Worlds CD (album) cover

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

Jeff Wayne

 

Crossover Prog

3.96 | 178 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars One of the greatest aspects of progressive rock is it's ability to be overblown, pompous and out if this world. There is really nothing like it. Sure, there have been other bands and artists in other genres displaying an equal affection for excess. The funk of Parliament or the extravaganza of Liberace, to name a few. But those examples have more to do with the performance, rather than the music. Progressive rock have, historically, always displayed an unrivalled will to exceed any musical expectation, crossing every boundary and act as gods in process of creating a universe of their own. I love that.

And what can better describe this overblown mentality and megalomania than progressive rock and concept albums. Better still, adaptations of classic books. Rick Wakeman's musical version of "Journey to the center of the Earth", for instance. Jeff Wayne did the same with "War of the worlds", an apocalyptic story of extraterrestrial invasion and human struggle in the wake of this most unwelcome visit. As far as prog goes it is an excellent a theme as any when it comes to the world and realms of progressive rock.

There is quite a few masterstrokes to this album when choosing the cast. The narration of Richard Burton is certainly one of them. I could have seen Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee as the narrator but I dare say Burton does it with his usual grace. His timbre and voice really puts the story in a mode of extreme urgency. One is embraced by his serious narration, full of drama and engagement. Absolutely wonderful.

Burton may be the narrator but there are other great vocal contributions by the likes of Phil Lynott, Chris Thompson, Justin Hayward, David Essex and Julie Covington. They all do a great job. Phil Lynott is maybe the most dramatic of them all, displaying quite the desperation and angst. The musicianship as a whole is very good and leaves nothing to complain about.

The music is very spacey, thanks to the abundance of synthesizers, and it should be. The theme is invasion from Space and it works very well. There is, apart from the prog elements, even traces of disco in the first track, "Eve of the war". Remember, this is 1978. The combination of narration, musical tapestries, sung parts and very vivid musical interpretations of the events in the story makes it the perfect audio book to me. Progressive rock and it's pompousness, bound inside this great story of alien invaders. The song "Forever autumn" is also the best song Moody Blues never wrote. Just listen to it.

It took me quite a few years to discover this gem of an album but it is really wonderful. Wayne manages to pull things off as brilliantly as in many a concept album (Jesus Christ Superstar, Journey to the center of the Earth, Peter and the wolf, La Biblia, The image maker I & II etc.) It is an adaptation very personal and holds an uniqueness from a musical point of view. "War of the worlds" is not flawless but it is a brilliant album and released in a time where proggers, supposedly, lived as outcasts. I think it's really worth a listen or more. To me it is full of ambience, passion and even brilliance. And Richard Burton is really the icing on the cake. He alone makes this a pleasant listen. Try it out. I dare say you won't have wasted your time.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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