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Jeff Wayne

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Jeff Wayne The War Of The Worlds album cover
3.97 | 198 ratings | 36 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (45:11)
1. The Eve of the War (9:06)
2. Horsell Common and the Heat Ray (11:36)
3. The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine (10:36)
4. Forever Autumn (7:43)
5. Thunder Child (6:10)

Disc 2 (50:01)
6. The Red Weed (5:55)
7. The Spirit of Man (11:41)
8. The Red Weed (part 2) (6:51)
9. Brave New World (12:13)
10. Dead London (8:37)
11. Epilogue (Part 1) (2:42)
12. Epilogue (Part 2) (NASA) (2:02)

Total time 95:12

Bonus Tracks on 1995 Remaster:
13. The Spirit Of Man (Dubulladub) (4:14)
14. Dark Autumn Dub (8:51)
15. Forever Autumn (Remix 95) (4:21)
16. Epilogue (Part 2) / The Eve Of The War (Remix 95) (5:33)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jeff Wayne / piano, harpsichord, conductor & orchestrations

- Chris Spedding / guitar
- Jo Partridge / guitar, performer (The Heat Ray)
- Ken Freeman / synthesizer
- Paul Hart / piano (6,8)
- George Fenton / autoharp, tar drum, santur
- Herbie Flowers / bass
- Barry Morgan / drums
- Roy Jones / percussion
- Barry Da Souza / percussion
- Ray Cooper / percussion
- Justin Hayward / vocals (1,4,14-16), performer (Thoughts of the Journalist)
- Julie Covington / vocals (7,13), performer (Beth)
- David Essex / vocals (9), performer (The Artilleryman)
- Phil Lynott / vocals (7,13), performer (Parson Nathaniel)
- Chris Thompson / vocals (5), performer (Voice of Humanity)
- Richard Burton / performer (The Journalist)
- Jerry Wayne / Voice of NASA Control (12), dramatic & narrative direction, executive producer
- Gary Osborne / vocals (background)
- Billy Lawrie / vocals (background)
- Paul Vigrass / vocals (background)
- Geraldine "Pest" Wayne / sound effects
- Doreen Wayne / script writer

Releases information

ArtWork: Michael Trim, Geoff Taylor & Peter Goodfellow with John Pasche (Design & Art Direction)

2xLP CBS ‎- CBS 96000 (1978, UK)

2xCD Columbia ‎- COL CD 96000 (1985, Europe)
2xCD Columbia ‎- CDX 96000 (1995, Europe) Remastered w/ 4 bonus tracks (1995 remixes)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JEFF WAYNE The War Of The Worlds ratings distribution

(198 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

JEFF WAYNE The War Of The Worlds reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars At 8:00 PM, on the evening of October 30, 1938, six million Americans listened to the controversial broadcast describing the dramatic extraterrestrial invasion of earth as written by HG Wells. In 1977, Jeff WAYNE musically re-visited this world-stunning radio masterpiece with one of greatest epic soundtracks of all time. The music of "The War of the Worlds" was composed, orchestrated, conducted and produced by Jeff WAYNE himself. For this epic production, WAYNE gave the narration role of 'The Journalist' to movie star Richard Burton. Other people who played roles in the story were Julie 'Don't Cry for me Argentina' Covington (BETH), David Essex (The ARTILLERYMAN) and THIN LIZZY's Phil Lynott (Parson Nathaniel). In addition MANFRED MANN's Chris Thompson and Justin Hayward of the MOODY BLUES both also sang on the album. Musically this album is full of orchestration, sound effects and rock genres. Overall a fantastic album and one that needs to be listened to from start to finish like my daughter and I mamange to find time to do.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one.. But still they come"

Jeff Wayne is not so much the performer as such; his role here is to bring together many highly talented musicians to perform his masterpiece. To be fair, he does contribute keyboards and backing vocals. While Wayne is indeed the main composer and producer, credit is due Garry Osbourne who writes virtually all the lyrics. "The War of the worlds" could perhaps be seen as a follow up to Lou Reizner's excellent symphonic version of "Tommy", with which it has more than passing similarities (although admittedly Reizner was not involved in the composition in that case).

The album is of course based on the HG Wells novel of the same name, with narration by the late Richard Burton. Burton's distinguished voice is ideal for the music. While his interjections playing the part of a journalist tell the story perfectly, there is never any danger of this becoming a talking book. The music at times has an almost dance like beat as on the opening track ("The eve of the war"), but it is diverse with strong orchestration, and some first class instrumental work (especially from Chris Spedding on guitar). There are also moody, ambient phases ("Dead London"), and Rice/Lloyd-Webber like stage show pieces ("The spirit of man").

The most familiar tracks will be the two that feature Justin Hayward (MOODY BLUES). While "Eve of the war" is largely an instrumental, it opens with a brief introductory narration from Burton, before the now so familiar orchestral theme crashes in. It is almost like the theme to a documentary or newsreel, where you just know what's coming is not going to be good news. Hayward is the first singer to appear on the album as he reminds us, "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, but still they come".

The tracks on the album are all lengthy, each side of the double LP only holding two or three songs. Side one is completed by "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray". The sound effects can be a bit too literal in this section, with what appears to be a tin can being slowly unscrewed, then the lid dropping to the ground, to simulate the Martian heat ray being unveiled. It's all a bit too BBC sound effects department!

The track distinctions and names are largely irrelevant, as the album flows as a continuous and complete piece. There are many excellent performances throughout the album. Phil Lynott (THIN LIZZY) as the manic and delusional preacher, Julie Covington as his devoted wife, and David Essex as the naive young artillery man who is going to build a whole new world from scratch, underground. The distinctive voiced Chris Thompson (MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND) tells the tale of the "Thunder child" warship, on which all hope for the future is resting, with his customary excellence.

Above all these however comes Justin Hayward's performance on "Forever autumn". If you have only ever heard the single version of this song, the full-length version included here will be a pleasant surprise. The lush orchestration, instrumental breaks, and narration interludes by Burton all go towards making this an absolute epic of a track. Lyrically (other than the narration), it doesn't really add anything to the story, apart from painting a picture of the emotional devastation felt by the "journalist" with both his personal, and indeed the world's predicament. Musically however, it is the highlight of the album, and one of the best pieces of music Hayward has contributed to (and he has been involved in many fine pieces).

Of course, there is the happy ending to the story to conclude, with a final sting in the tail added by Wayne(!).

"War of the worlds" is a quite stunning album, full of strong melodies, inspired song-writing, and excellent performances. I would recommend going for the full double LP/CD version, rather than the budget label "highlights". While the latter contains a good selection of extracts, it also has some extremely dodgy editing, and some unnecessary remixes.

Watch out also for the dub remix version of the whole album, which contains various dance remixes of the tracks, but detracts from, rather than enhances the original performances. Finally, avoid also Wayne's follow up album "Spartacus", which had a similar structure to "War of the worlds", but is devoid of inspired song writing or performances.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was a grand offering at the time of release in 1978 and it is very good, there is no doubt about that. Personally to give it a five star rating is a bit overkill as it had measured success in the prog world. Was it prog? Richard Burton's narration is perfect for the part and the musician line up contributing to War Of The Worlds is of the highest calibre. Musically though it falls short of being excellent in that it shows limitations, too numerous to mention. These limitations aside still make for a very good record.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There is nothing that progheads hated more in the 70's than Disco. This dance genre was the antithesis of what Progressive Rock means for us, but Jeff Wayne did the unthinkable, a pompous symphonic progressive conceptual album with a touch of Disco Music in the rhythm section which was loved by most progheads..

Probably we were so happy to listen something so majestic in those years when prog' was getting weaker, that didn't noticed (or if we did, never cared) this almost pagan influence, which as a fact doesn't affect the quality of the Music.

But the main question that we asked after listening this album was: Who in the hell is this guy Jeff Wayne? The answer was not easily found among the progressive fans, probably any Broadway Musical fan would know about him because his job is mainly the one of a producer and composer with enough contacts to recruit an impressive cast that included actors like Richard Burton as The Narrator, Broadway stars as Julie Covington and Rock musicians like Chris Thompson from Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues, the great Philippe Lynnot from Thin Lizzy, the one hit wonder David Essex and many others.

The album is divided in two parts the first CD is about 'The Coming of the Martians', while the second CD covers 'The Earth Under the Martians', being the first one stronger than the second one.

The first CD opens with the sober and appropriate narration by Richard Burton, which gives credibility to the album and works as an introduction for one of the most pompous and spectacular pieces of music ever released, not a masterpiece but really impressive and shocking, Jeff Wayne captures the spirit of other progressive keyboardists like Rick Wakeman.

In this point is where Jeff mixes the spirit of prog with the percussion of Disco Music, something strange when the drummer is Barry Da Souza who played with Rick Wakeman in some albums.

The Disco sound is so clear that this first track was used during the late 70's and 80's by the DJ's in clubs as part of their mixes, of course avoiding narration and the efficient vocals by Justin Hayward.

The next two tracks are more narrative and it's importance lies in the history, but then comes the best-known track of this album, Forever Autumn, a beautiful but simple ballad with the excellent vocals of Justin Hayward, later the Moody Blues would take off the sound effects of this track and include it as a hit single present in some compilations of this band.

The highest point of CD 2 is Brave New World, a track that plays in the border of rock and Broadway Musical, but the interpretations of Phil Lynott and Julie Covington are impeccable, and the music keeps the listener in suspense because it's absolutely breathtaking.

The orchestration and conduction deserve a special mention as well as the production, all simply impeccable. The original LP version had an excellent booklet that included amazing drawings, something that's sadly been lost in the CD re issues.

The War of the Worlds is probably the best adaptation of a literature piece and one of the most faithful, except for the second Epilogue (the one about NASA), which IMO is out of place.

Not the best album ever released but almost a masterpiece, every prog' fan should have a copy of it, imagine what other chance will you have to listen the legendary bassist of Thin Lizzy with an Ex Manfred Mann member and the vocalist of the Moody Blues sharing credits with Richard Burton.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars I can hardly wait for the premier of "War of the Worlds" at the end of this month. This is a movie with a lot of history behind it. Who can forget Orson Welles' famous radiobroadcast that people actually believed. You have to hand it to Welles for being such an extraordinary actor. Today he would never get away with it but on Halloween Oct. 30, 1938 he shocked a nation. If this had transpired in the present day, he would have ended up in court with a pending jail term in front of him. I remember watching the original movie when I was a child and being in total awe. I can only imagine how good the new version will be with the special effects.

Well not only is there a new version of the movie, the 1978 classic recording Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of "The War of the Worlds" is available in a stunning 2 CD SACD set. The sound is spellbinding on a surround sound system.

This is a magnificent collection of music and drama. Richard Burton performs the narration very eloquently. Burton's voice was very refined, Shakespearian if you will. While his inflection is very magnetic, it was at the same terrifying as he told the story and exchanged parts with other actors on this soundtrack. The music is superb featuring such luminaries as Justin Hayward (The MOODY BLUES) and Phil Lynott (THIN LIZZY) including orchestration of the narratives by Rick Wakeman and David Beford. It seems Mr. Wayne got the very best for this captivating production.

Science fiction and progressive rock fans will gobble this up. I know it was not hard for me to enjoy.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-

June 22, 2005

Rating - 10/10

Review by richardh
1 stars This cheesey late seventies disco driven work just isn't my cup of tea at all.Yes it is prog,but this was a time when decent prog rock bands were falling into a post punk blackhole.Jeff Wayne to his credit had the gumption to exploit the situation releasing a prog album that was accessible to the masses .Trouble is the end result is tedious to the extreme and lacks the dark edge and inventiveness that great prog has.Most people who bought this wouldn't have had a clue about something like PF's masterpeice Animals or the like.So I give 1 mark for the energetic The Eve Of The War (which really sold it) and another mark for Forever Autumn which has the excellent Justin Hayward singing on it.The rest is unimiginative filler.Avoid
Review by Zitro
4 stars This is an album I discovered not long ago, and ranks up there with the most enjoyable concept albums that I have heard. It is of course based on the novel 'War of the Worlds' and has structure style very similar to Wakeman's Journey to the Center of The Earth. This one is very different to Wakeman's. This album is very strange and psychedelic in moments, and it usually has a Disco Rhythm (danceable prog rock!!). It has a huge and impressive line-up of talented musicians, and some unusual musical instruments.

CD 1:

The CD begins with a narration and the classic riff (with its symphony melding with an uptempo keyboard riff) that later will appear at various points of the album. The song is very strong instrumentally, and it is very easy to like at first listen. The following song is an epic focused on psychedelia and sound effects, and it is very well done. The next epic sounds like Journey to the center of the Earth (narrations) but of course with the danceable prog-disco rhythms. Forever Autumn is the most melodic song of the album, and has a slight moody blues style to it. Thunder Child is a solid disco-prog song with distorted vocals, and excellent musicianship which closes the first disc.

1. The Eve of the War (8.5/10) 2. Horsell Common and the Heat Ra (7.5/10) 3. The Artilleryman and the Fight (8/10) 4. Forever Autumn (8.5/10) 5. Thunder Child (7/10)

CD 2 :

It begins with the REd Weed which is darker and scarier than any of the music heard on Disc One. The Spirit of Man alternates Male and female singers, and sounds like an impressive song to play live. The Red Weed 2 is similar to the first part, and it is scary. The Brave New World is probably the strongest track of the album. It combines all elements of this album together into a long brilliant epic. Dead London is an ambient slow piece that gives imagery of pain, sadness, and loss. The album concludes with a very out of place epilogue.

6. The Red Weed (7/10) 7. The Spirit of Man (8/10) 8. The Red Weed (part 2) (6.5/10) 9. Brave New World (9/10) 10. Dead London (7.5/10) 11. Epilogue (Part 1) (6/10) 12. Epilogue (Part 2) (NASA) (4/10)

This album is not a masterpiece, but a very well done concept album with consistent quality (regardless of the long length), good musicianship, interesting rhythms, and full of powerful moments. If you like Rock Operas, you will like this

My Grade : B

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The phenomenally successful [in commercial terms, at least] War Of The Worlds is a Prog-Disco concept album devised and created by Jeff Wayne, written by his mother with lyrics mostly by Gary Osborne, and performed by an 'all-star cast'. As is often the case when guest performers are involved, it can turn out to be a hit-and-miss affair, and that is the case here: Richard Burton and Justin Hayward are wonderful, Phil Lynott and David Essex are not!

The familiar story of Martian aliens colonising Earth before being polluted to death is told through extensive narrative interspersed with songs and instrumental passages, all played over a relentless 120 bpm disco beat, which makes listening to the album in its entirety something of a tiresome marathon. This feeling is not helped by a clear artistic divide between discs one and two, causing the best material to be grouped at the start.

Disc one is all about the rich plummy voice of Richard Burton as journalist/narrator, Justin Hayward adding his silky singing voice to a couple of songs - including excellent hit single Forever Autumn - and some inspired instrumental melodies led predominantly by keyboards and synths, at times bouncy and upbeat, at others dark, foreboding and downright scary. An eerie passage illustrating the emergence of the Martians from their cylinders is particularly impressive. Only a short spoken exchange between Burton and Essex mar an otherwise brilliant sequence, which ends, after a so-so song by Chris Thompson, with the menacing synthesized alien voices - "ulla".

Disc Two is a beast of a different colour, beginning with a long and tedious exchange between a parson [Phil Lynott, excruciatingly awful] and his wife [Julie Covington, beautiful]. This is partly spoken and partly sung in the manner of a musical or opera, but except for Covington's lovely "No Nathaniel, no" refrain this section outstays its welcome by many minutes, as does a lengthy passage devoted to David Essex's dull and lifeless voice. Sadly, the atmospheric dying Martians of Dead London are insufficient to redeem this second disc from stilted dialogue, unconvincing performances from Lynott and Essex, and a general lack of inspired melody.

Overall, then, something of a mixed bag: in places inspired, imaginative and utterly winning; in others grating, tedious and boring. Disc one is a classic, almost flawless throughout [just that small Essex glitch], while disc two rarely gets an airing on my hi fi! Had this been a general music site I would have awarded 4 stars, but as this is PA and there is very little Prog Rock on the album it will get 3.

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I don't know, perhaps I exaggerate by saying this or I'm having a panic of euphoria (which usually happens when great albums face a review from me), but I consider this album a kind of special treat for the progressive rock (since it was adopted under this branch). What Jeff Wayne does here is by nothing common and, more than that, is a curios event, for this is the sole fantastic reference of his music (don't have Spartacus, but references say it's a disaster). Anyway, going a little off-subject too, this was my childhood euphoria. Listening to this thing over and over again, night after night, was something memorable. Back then I was listening only to few "such" albums, but this one was a boom and stayed like that since then (hardly think I'll change my opinion regarding it). It's a masterpiece of concept, a brilliant maneuver and a very strong interpretation of one of the world's greatest, most intelligent, most artistically (and more innocent) trick (slightly joking, of course - or?). I love it, I am enchanted and dazzled, I am thrilled and very content given all aspects. This should be a great reflection for you and an experience very, like I said, far from the common of music and of interpretation.

Jeff Wayne gathers great voices and great souls of music, acting and so for this very demanding project, whose result is nothing but rewarding. In a double-powered shape, it brings upon the listener a massive exciting story, garnished (yes, I'm of the belief that the story settles prior to the music or at least they're equally of challenge and of perspective) with music that speaks out in terms of dynamics, of emotions, of correlation with the narration nucleus, with artistically effects that are one of a kind and with an excitement within it that speaks for itself. Burton is an "art voice" I worship and some moments of him in this album are a constant echo in my inner self whenever the subject of the album is even brought as an allusion or as a thought. About the other vocalists I'll talk in my succinctly description. Music is great, supported by a style and a mirific view and by a window that opens perception to great heights. Only my own limitation of words stops me from and euphorically description of what lies in this gem of an album and in its significance.

First part, The Coming Of The Martians, is a demonstration of force from beginning to end. Four brilliant constructions, plus an intermezzo (Forever Autumn) which is mainly just a moment of repaus, make an luminous characterization of the disastrous attack, of the panic that settles around, of the shock that carries everyone in a delirium of voices and of echoes and of the disaster state in which London finally ends, without hope, without sense, lifeless and damaged. This is the strongest part of the album, with a presentation of main themes, of great imaginative interpretations of the subject's course, with beautiful line of dynamics, of rhythms and of tense pinpoints. Mind-blowing, invigorating, stunning. Special.

Second part, The Earth Under The Martians, is somewhat less of the captivating strings that define the first moment of the album. By critic, observations can be made regarding the instrumental slight collapse, highlighting preeminently the vocals. But neither these one go unchanged, as the main feature of the speech is mainly moments of a one-form singing (Parson Nathaniel, The Spirit of Man, Brave New World). Then again, if Thunder Child from disc 1 went okay, why should these be a point of deny? Still second part is a prevalent vocal description, instrumental flows being intermezzos. One more thing I would like to add is the fact that Lynott and Essex's moments here aren't that good. Personal thought. Apart from that, things are going just as good. We are offered a reflection upon horrific days after the shockwave, upon the disillusion and the wondering of the main character, of the encounter with people either going blind and mad, either standing against a hope without realism in it. Finally comes a beautiful, symbolic moment, when the main character, survivor and witness of everything, loses hope in himself exactly when hope has just arrived (off-topic: I'm not for happy-endings, normally, but the finale is rather well-done and rewarding in contrast.). Disc two sets a new dimension, a different mood, a different value with the main genuine scent.

That's about all. Splendid accomplishment, as far as my standards and my preferences go. Yet I strongly consider this a good success to a general auditory and an overall context. The kind of album that goes masterful in the first place through its nature and its message, then through music enchantment , through quality and so on.Do enjoy!

Review by Heptade
3 stars I'm writing this review specifically about the special 7-disk edition. I've enjoyed this album since I was a child, and though I know it's cheese, I can't help but love it. Despite the disco beats, I think there's a real majesty in a lot of Wayne's arrangements, some wonderful melodies, an insanely talented band, and how can you wholly dislike an album featuring Richard Burton, Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott and Chris Thompson? I think not. I find this retelling of the story very compelling, and even though the music was very contemporary (in '78, at least), I think Wayne was true to Wells' meaning. Anyway, on to the special edition, which ain't cheap kids. I was lucky to get a discount, and it was worth every penny. The deluxe hardback book with commentary, reproductions of the stunning original paintings from the original gatefold booklet, and lots of photos of the sessions and of memorabilia, is great. The original two-disk album has been remastered and sounds better than ever. The DVD interview with Jeff Wayne is merely OK, as there was no footage taken in the studio during the original recordings, so it mainly features him recounting his memories. There are no interviews with other cast members or musicians, which is a little disappointing. There are three disks of outtakes, lost songs and demos, which admittedly will only appeal to the JWWW freaks, but those are the only people who will have bought this anyway, and to those people these three disks will be heaven and worth the price of admission. There is even a resurrected lost song about Parson Nathaniel and a version of Thunder Child sung by John Lodge of the Moody Blues. The studio chatter of Burton and Lynott on the vocal outtakes in particular is priceless. The only worthless component is a disk of poorly done dance remixes of the songs, perhaps an attempt to get club kids interested, but ultimately not very interesting. The CD sleeves are also an issue, since I do think in the long term they may end up scratching the disks with prolonged use. But these are small quibbles. For the fan of this album (with some money to burn), this is a purchase you should seriously consider. For me personally, five stars. Considering the cult status of this release and its limited appeal, though, I'll give it a three. At least pick up the two disk album. If you like 70s concept albums, this one is pretty much the king of them all.
Review by Australian
4 stars (Don't read if planning to buy album)

(Note: I haven't read the book by H.G. Wells written in 1898) Its funny but I find this, "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds" to be a more gripping adventure than both movie versions. This interpretation of the story keeps many details I find most interesting in the story. Most prominently the fact that it is still set in the original location, England opposed to the US as in the 2005 movie version. I also like the fact that it is set in the 19th centaury instead of the 21st century. Last of all I like the whole idea of the world underground and the war ship Thunder Child. I also prefer to think that it makes more sense to have the Martians come from space in capsules with their fighting machines as opposed to them being pre-buried underground for future use. This is one thing that puzzled me with Spielberg's version of events.

What? Why would they have been buried 4million years ago?

Moving on. the fact that the narrator is English (played by the all-powerful Richard Burton to be accurate) gives the story a very genuine element. Also, this version is set in England (as previously mentioned) where the story makes more sense to me. Come to think of it must have been very challenging for Jeff Wayne to undertake a musical adaptation of such a famous and well-known story. The pressure to make something of a quality befitting the film (heheh, well.not so much), radio broadcast and novel would have been present in his mind I would think.

It is a strange time to have released the album too, the alleged 'classic' prog era was basically over, and not only did he incorporate prog elements but also disco and some pop also. Jeff Wayne seemed unmoved by the current shift in musical popularity of the time I suppose it is a good thing though. I have to be honest thought that I did not know that there was any disco at all in this album. I have decided that I don't want to know what disco is allegedly supposed to sound like so as not to spoil this great album. Many people apparently have a great dislike of this genre so I'll steer clear of it thankee very much (Whistler.)

The most noticeable thing about "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds" is that there is a hell of a lot of repetition, all through out the album. A series of themes are repeated many, many times. The great thing about said themes is that they are so awesome that one can't get enough of them. So this 'problem' is levelled out well. I love the sound effect for the heat-ray/ Martian cry, heheheh. In addition to repetitious, cool themes and sounds the use of synthesizers is extensive in this work. Also guitar solos are thrown in the album, as is a string orchestra. There is not only narration but also vocals as well!! Pretty sweet hu? There's a little bit of everything in this album.

The vinyl version is amazing, and it is just so authentic and the artwork is spectacular in its detail and quality. Seriously if you at all can grab a copy of this on vinyl, you won't be displeased its as good as the "Olias of Sunhillow" (Jon Anderson) vinyl version. The vinyl artwork depicts the Martian fighting machines melting the Thunder Child.

The album begins with the fantastically musically themed, "The Eve of War" which begins with narration from Richard Burton (the main character) as he reports to us about the beginning of the invasion by the Martians. It starts with this line "No one would have believed in the dying days of the 19th centaury that human affairs where being watched from the timeless worlds of space."The first music introduced to us is in the form of an orchestra which serves to almost echo the main melody played on what sounds to be an electric harpsichord and also a synthesizer. In addition a couple of guitars (playing more or less the same thing) are thrown into the mix. This song is, like the entire album quite cheesy and may disgust some people but I love it! Richard Burton goes on to tell us more about the invasion. The famous like "The Chances of anything coming from mars are a million to one he said" (he, of course being the astronomer whose name I have no idea how to spell) emerges in this song.

The next track "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray" begins with narration from Richard Burton backed by a synthesizer and various other sounds. Soon, the new theme is introduced in the form of a thrumming instrument which gains intensity until it is finally played on both a bass and banjo (I think it's a banjo) .with narration included. In this song the first Martians appear and the effects of the heat ray are seen as the Martians start their killing spree. In between the narration odd effects and sounds are thrown in over the repetitious bass line to give the song an eerie effect. Despite the fact that an unknown thing had come down from space and killed many people seemed to have no profound impact on anyone and they continued with their lives as if nothing at all had happened. Later in the song a group of soldiers proceed to the site where the Martians were building their machines, and another group of aliens land.

"The Artillery Men and the Fighting the Machine" begins with a soft thrumming of the main melody of the previous song. Soon more instruments in strings and synthesizers are added to the fray. An Artillery Man walks into Richard Burton's house and he explains to him how they had been defeated by the Martians, together they decide to go to London. Here we discover the love relation in the story, can't go without one. As they proceed to London they see six Artillery Men with guns standing by waiting for the Martians to come. They succeed in killing a machine, before they themselves are killed. The Artillery Man and Richard Burton are separated at this moment as they attempt to escape the Martians. The sound effect for the heat ray/ bellow is repeated several times in this song. Richard Burton narrowly escapes death when trying to flee the Martians.

"Forever Autumn" beings with Richard Burton explaining to us how his wife Carrie and her father had left from their house in London. "Forever Autumn" is Justin Hayward's (of the Moody Blues) major contribution to the album and this is basically the love song of the album. Not a bad song, but is still dictated somewhat by effects and repeated musical and lyrical phrases. Richard Burton proceeds to flee from England by sea and he reports on all the people racing to escape. He states how the Martians destroy all of London's major landmarks. By some fluke Carrie is aboard a steamer, sailing away into the distance.

"Thunder Child" is one of my favourite songs of the album and it begins with an array of sound effects and Richard Burton explains how the Martians move to block the exit of the steamer carrying his wife. The war ship Thunder Child proceeds to steam straight towards the Martians in an effort to allow the steamer to escape. She manages to destroy one machine, but out numbered she is destroyed by the Martians. It's odd, I actually felt sad (I guess I still do.) for the ship when I first listened to this album as she sinks. Apparently this one ship was man's last hope of victory against the Martians and from here on humans just seem to be massacred all the time. As more Martians descend from the heavens the steamer manages to escape.

Farwell Thunder Child.

"The Red Weed, Part 1" begins with spacey synthesizers and quiet, underlying noises. The red weed is of course the vegetation which gives Mars its red appearance, an established fact actually. This weed begins to take over as the people succumb to the Martians, so too does the land succumb to the red weed (not a quote). "The Red Weed Part 1" is a very eerie song and it is evident from the sound of it that not much is left alive by the Martians. The use of both the flute and synthesized flute really help to amplify this feeling of an oddly dead world. One can imagine walking through quiet cities covered with creeping, tentacle-like red weed, with not a living thing in site.

In "The Spirit of Man" Richard Burton discovers the body of a Parson lying dead on the ground and he decides to bury the body when suddenly his eye flutter open and his wife comes rushing to his side. The Parson (Nathaniel) seems to have gone insane as he keeps uttering (and singing) things about how Satan had sent these Martians to punish the people for their sins. He continues to talk about the Martians as being Demons and unearthly horrors. His wife keeps trying to convince him that there is still hope and that these beasts are in fact Martians, not Demons. This continues throughout the rest of the song and at this moment, the album lulls a bit in quality. Just a bit. Eventually a cylinder lands on top of the house they are staying in and The Parson's wife is killed. The Martians build a new machine to catch humans for various reasons.

"The Red Weed, Part 2" harkens back to the eeriness of the first part of "The red Weed" with the creepy melodies, portrayed using synthesizers. The Martians then proceed to drink the blood of all the humans they have captured. The Parson then proceeds to become crazier and keeps ranting on about how he has been chosen to defeat the Martians. There is a thump and the Parson stops speaking mid-sentence. One can only assume that Richard Burton knocked him out so as to stop him from doing anything too rash. "The Red Weed, Part 2" soon dies down and reverts back to the eeriness already mentioned. Richard Burton looks out so see that all the Martians had vanished, but the weed had now covered everything.

"The Artilleryman Returns" begins with very familiar synthesizer sounds and melody. Richard Burton decides to go London again and he walks through silent, dead streets. He also explains that the Martians had eliminated all bacteria on their planet, hold that thought. Richard Burton suddenly meets The Artilleryman again.

In "A Brave New World" The Artilleryman tells Richard Burton his grand new plan, to live underground. It is at this moment that one can tell he had gone a bit kooky. For the rest of the song The Artilleryman makes comparisons between life on the surface and what life will be like underground in their new world. Of course, there are many flaws with his ideas but it is clear that the man is insane. He keeps on ranting about his master plans, and how they would eventually play each other in cricket. After his ranting is over he shows Richard Burton the start he had made, which consisted of a small room-sized hole. It soon becomes clear to Richard Burton that he should leave The Artilleryman to his ideas. "A Brave New World" is one spectacular song, possibly the opus of the album.

In "Dead London" the loneliness of Richard Burton finally results in him charging head long at the Martians, only to discover that they were all dying and emitting a deathly shriek, at which Richard Burton resolved to move towards. As he moves towards the cry he sees the Martian machines standing still, and the cry ends. He becomes so lonely once the crying suddenly ceased that he walks directly at a walker only to find that the machine was covered in crows which were eating the dead Martians. In the end the Martians had been killed by the bacteria in the air. After everything the humans created the might aliens where finally destroyed by harmless bacteria. The melody from "The eve of War: is reintroduced in this song with spectacular effect.

In "Epilogue, part 1" all people scattered across the country proceeded to go to London where they start to rebuild from the damage dealt by the Martians. Richard Burton wonders whether the aliens would attack again. The song is rather joyous as the humans had defeated the invaders, the music suites perfectly.

"Epilogue, part 2" is very perplexing as astronauts are talking to each other over radio when they all notice a green flare erupt from mars. (I wonder what it is? ) Once by one they lose contact with each other. This confuses me, is it implying that they attacked again in the future. If so how could they not know what the green flare was? I mean, had everyone suddenly forgotten about the massacre of man kind which had occurred not 200 years before? Anyway, this concludes the album not very well.but it is an ending.

If you want an insane, cheesy and a very different style of double concept album then this is your man right here. I understand that not a lot of people are like-minded on me on this one but this is an awesome album. The blending of infectious melodies, lyrics and conceptual elements makes this one irresistible prog album. While I wholeheartedly recommend the vinyl version of "The War of the Worlds", the 2005 remaster edition is also awesome and it comes with great packaging as well as and extended booklet. But of course it can't live up to the might of the vinyl. To me The War Of The Worlds seems to have influenced modern prog bands such as Ayreon whose concept albums remind me very greatly of this work.

I'd recommend "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds" to all 70's prog fanatics as it gives a very different take on a concept album in my opinion. Personally I regard this album very highly and it has quickly become one of my favourite albums I own.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This work holds everything that should have made me run away from it. Almost hundred minutes of disco beats, spoken "lyrics" for most of it, heavy and pompous orchestrations. What a combination!

But actually, this mayonnaise works very well. For several reasons :

1. You take one of the best sci-fi novel as the main source of inspiration

2. You get some famous artists for your line-up

3. You manage to appoint a great actor as the main narrator

4. You write catchy melodies

5. You make sure that you are in-line musically with the devastating disco genre

That's it! Pretty simple isn't ?

The commercial response was HUGE. Million of albums were sold (over forteen worldwide, including the various releases) and the original album will remain no less than almost three hundred WEEKS in the UK charts!

What can explain this ?

A fantastic storyboard of course. It is not very often that great writers are taken into account for a musical work (but maybe they should be more considered). The music that surrounds this magnificent story is of course the second ingredient of success. And how could you be sure to make a bundle in the late seventies ? Well, disco was the answer.

It was virtually EVERYWHERE. On the radios, on movies, in the discotheques of course. And believe me, I have suffered quite a lot in those remote days when once in a while I had to spend some of my week-end nights in such a "temple" of music.

IMHHO, the best of this work is the fantastic performance of Richard Burton. A great movie star and a fabulous narrator here. He is the one that makes you believe that all of this has happened.

And to get Chris Spending as well as Phil Lynott on such an album is rather funny : they both have had some musical experience with the Pistols. Not quite the same style, right ?

People from my age know about each of the very good melodies displayed in here. Of course, for radio airing most were edited. Tracks are melting the one into the other and even if it is a bit long, this album is best experienced when you listen to it from A to Z even if "The Red Weed" parts are weak. But globally, the second part of this work is weaker and longish.

Even if "Brave New World" sounds optimistic and joyful (but it was the main theme from Huxley's novel, so.). A great contrast with the dark "Dead London" during the first half. It is then turning into the main theme heard in the opening number. This is probably my preferred part of the whole. We'll finally know that bacteria saved the world from the Martians...While the second epilogue might be a hint for the Martians come back.

If you have ever read a review of mine, you might know that I usually can't stand orchestrations. Again, in this work they are melting pretty well in the ensemble. They are decent I should say. I admit that mixing these with disco could have been a nightmare, but this "War Of The World" is a good combination.

I guess that all these facts were the kick for me to be able to tolerate this work much more than what was available by then in this particular "musical" genre (even if the likes of Chic or Donna Summer found some echo to my ears - I even bought several of their records!).

The story and the music are never boring. I guess that to see the live performance of this work would have been an experience; but to spend those ridiculously high prices is something I am absolutely not in favour with (anyway I can't afford it either). Anyway, there's the DVD just in case.

In terms of rating, I would have liked to give four stars to this album but the soufflé falls somewhat flat after the first and great part (except during "Dead London").

Three stars for this concept album. Not for its progressiveness but for Burton, and H.G. Wells.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars It is difficult to form a fair judgement on this album. There surely are some very good pieces of music in here, but the problem is that they are so well hidden behind a wall of overtly dramatic narration, pieces of theatrical dialogue and dated sound effects. The classic story by H.G. Wells is just that - classic. Despite the dated sound effects, I genuinely think that this version of the story is somewhat scary at times, at least the first time I heard it. The biggest problem is that even if the music would deserve repeated listens, the dominance of the story over the music makes it impossible to hear the album several times without getting tired of it. Hearing the whole album is almost like watching a whole movie, and even a great movie gets boring after a small amount of viewings. It doesn't matter how good the soundtrack to the film is, when you have seen/heard a great story a number of times it looses its excitement in a way that great music does not.

The narration by Richard Burton is very good and brings the story on impressively. But the occasional pieces of dialogue are of very low quality. Phil Lynnot of Thin Lizzy is certainly not a great actor. And when he attempts to sing a duet with his female counterpart it becomes truly cringe worthy! True Broadway musical style! Awful.

This album does not know what it wants to be or where it is going. The combination between narration and dialogue is not successful. They should have chosen either narration or dialogue, not both - Is it a radio play? Is it a rock album? Or a rock musical?

Still, there are some very nice moments. Forever Autumn - sung by Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues - is a very good song, and several others are as well. I do indeed recommend a listen to this album; here is what I did (with my girlfriend): We made a print out of the lyrics, we prepared some drinks and snacks and dimmed the lights. The excitement of the story helped to get over some of the dated effects and the cringe worthy vocal duet moments. We had a very good evening, and my girlfriend was quite scarred afterwards!

Good though the evening was, this album has no lasting effect. Therefore, only two stars.

(A funny note: the martians battle cry 'Ulla' is also the name of my girlfriend's mother! As well as a very common female name here in Sweden.)

Review by Matti
3 stars If you're looking for a megalomanically overblown musical drama, this is right for you! The famous early scifi novel (in which the beastly Martians attack the Earth with their war machines) transferred into an orchestral suite, featuring Richard Burton as the protagonist (a narrator of sorts, NOT singing) and several rock singers doing the singing part. The album was very popular at the time, and now it was just re-released as a lavishly illustrated digipak 2CD set.

Well, it certainly was too much for me at the first listening: I frankly had no energy to listen even the first disc till the end. The orchestral score - and Burton's narration, plus some repeating of the chorus by Justin Hayward) seemed to be going on and on in the painfully overblown manner, especially so with the very first track. Only much later I listened the second disc, and either I was in a much more suitable mood or the second disc is better. In that sense it is better that the story has evolved from the attack terror to the devastating situation after the destruction (the struggle between hopelessness and the ray of hope) and the music therefor isn't overdramatic all the time but instead has more various moods. Also the guest vocalists have more appearances at this point. Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) and Julie Covington are very good as the churchman and his wife, as well as Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) earlier, on the final track of the first disc.

Of course I need to mention 'Forever Autumn', also known as a tight single version that has foolishly appeared also in Moody Blues compilations. Though it's maybe a bit too long here, it is easily a highlight of the first disc.

So, as put off as you may be at first, this magnum opus does have its merits and you may even start liking it more and more (I'm not sure of myself yet). The subject, War of the Worlds, simply demands a lot of drama, and after all it's all done skillfully and the production is top-notch (which naturally can be its fault too, the score being overworked, overblown). From the progressive rock point of view this is not a superb album however. The less orchestral and more rock oriented moments are all too few (and when it rocks, it often does so in a rather disco-ish manner), and the narration certainly could have been notably shorter, giving more room to SONGS. 2,5 stars, rounded upwards.

Review by friso
3 stars Jeff Wayne - The War of the Worlds (1978)

Musical + disco + funny space sounds = prog(related)?

This is quite an entertaining concept album, but I would never call this important for the progressive movement per se. It's is however quite inventive in blending styles like symphonic rock, electronic music, disco and musical with some added space sounds. Some inventive amplification of keys and guitars are done very nice. Though the result of the instrumental section is very accessible, it's not too arranged to be distasteful.

There's a list of famous vocalists (for example leads of Thin Lizzy and The Moody Blues) which most of us will recognize and the instruments are played nice. The music is excessively repetitive, but the spoken word story line keeps you busy throughout the album. Though this might sound negative, this is actually a positive point: recycling themes on re-occurring emotional stages. Also it makes some of the themes very memorable, which gives the album a cohesive feel.

The storyline is widely known: Aliens from Mars come to conquer earth, the main characters try to run and suddenly all the aliens are dead due to earthly infections (bacteria, viruses). Though referring to the original radio broadcast of 1947 (if remember it well) the ending is still very very unsatisfying. This has it's effect on the music, there's no real end. Some bombastic conclusion on the end would have made this album a lot better.

Conclusion. A record that has earned it's place in music history. It's original, it's fun to listen to and it's shows some great usage of progressive elements explored by other bands of the seventies. My rating will however be three stars. This is by no means an excellent addition to any prog rock collection, but it can be quite satisfying for most of us. It's good, but not perfect because of the weak ending.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars In 1978, disco was king and prog was a fallen star, beyond salvation. An ambitious project no doubt hatched during better days finally came to fruition and made a huge worldwide splash, although admittedly less so in North America. It did so by blending prog with disco far more convincingly than anything we had ever seen before, and with compositions, melodies, performances, and, of course, a story line far superior to what either individual genre had been feeding us for some time. This is like an unrestrained ALAN PARSONS PROJECT sprawled out over 2 LPs, with stellar narration, repetitive motifs, and even a few obvious hit singles effortlessly blended into the mix. Filler doesn't really become an issue until side 4, so that it actually contains 50% less of the stuff than most doubles of its day.

Richard Burton, Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott, David Essex, Julie Covington, Chris Thompson, Herbie Glowers and Chris Spedding all deliver performances as if they lived through the ordeal or died trying, which is a propos. Highlights are most of the first 3 sides, but particularly Justin Hayward's voices on side 1 and "Forever Autumn", the last great hope and ultimate tragedy of "Thunder Child", and the tortured couple (Covington and Lynott) in "The Spirit of Man". Jeff Wayne handles most of the synthesizers which chillingly approximate the mechanized Martian vocalizations and movements.

I recommend you listen to this in its entirety on a dark cozy night and let yourself be carried off like those who heard the original radio broadcast 70+ years ago. Please don't jump out of any windows though - it's just a one of the greatest science fiction stories ever, masterfully conveyed in genre-spanning music.

Review by thehallway
4 stars Ulllllllllaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! the popular refrain goes.

This album is a unique blend of sensible progressiveness, dramatic rock-opera, musical-esque theatrics, and symphonic structures, with smatterings of dance, rock and disco. It's a very ambitous effort with a lot of compositional strong points (i.e. repeating themes, catchy riffs, and designated vocalists). Wayne's time as a producer obviously enabled him to witness and absorb a host of musical ideas and styles, which he showcases here in the form of a popular story, H G Wells' 'War of the Worlds'. The loyalty to the book is phenomenal, and Burton's narration is an essential ingredient to aid the flow of the album; his role as the journalist brings every scene together without disturbing the music itself or becoming like an audio-book. The main significant tracks are all rather lengthy, some to an unneccesary degree but most with the extension working in their favour. The primary 'theme' of the martians crops up again and again, as does some of the other motifs, providing musical cohesion and adding more weight to the narrative. The characters and musicians all play and sing well, even if a little overenthusiastic at times (it is all very theatrical, *David Essex*...) and Wayne himself orchestrates and directs the congregation well.

The symphonic element works well; unlike some other orchestral rock operas I can think of, and the only main issue I have is the disco rhythm section, but given the era I think it's largely forgivable. There is some considerable filler too, but it's often neccesary to the storyline and I guess couldn't have been easily removed. The production can be summed up with one number: 1978 (Bee Gees, anyone?!)

Nobody has ever replicated the weighty style of this well-developed double album, including Jeff himself; it makes for some very interesting listening. There are a wealth of musicians and singers, all of which handle their respective role brilliantly. Including of course, the obligatory Ray Cooper, who is on every album ever.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've never read the original story (though I've read many Jules Verne stories in my childhood), but I remember one occasion, I was perhaps 10 years of age, when I heard radio adaptation of this classic. I was very impressed.

Now, 13 years later, I finally experienced its fusion with music. It was an immerse experience, spoken world, not unlike those of Wakeman's "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" (strangely - by the one I know well - Verney). However, the music featured is a bit different. Rather than symphonic, we get something between Rock, Funky (strong bass) & (almost disco sounds) & Symphonic (orchestra), sci-fi electronic sounds and truly Prog moments, especially those with keyboards and whole feeling. And I am now again very impressed.

4(+), however the impression is bigger than the record's Prog qualities, so as a balanced rating between 5 (how intense this is) and rather 3 of it's Prog.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "This was no disciplined march, it was a stampede, without order and without a goal, six million people unarmed and unprovisioned, driving headlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilization, of the massacre of mankind...."

I bought "The War of the Worlds" as a teen in the 80s as it was definitely on my wish list for years. I remember first putting this vinyl album on and I was hooked from the very first deep toned serious words of Richard Burton "No one would have believed" to the ominous 3 chord strings that blasted out of the speakers. The vinyl double album was a treasure and I pored over the cover illustration and of course the lavishly illustrated booklet with full colour gloss paintings of martians creating the "the rout of civilisation" as they ploughed their way across Horsell Common in their tripod war machines. The songs on the album are all masterfully executed, the beauty of Justin Hayward on the captivating 'Forever Autumn', the mesmirising tale of despair of Phil Lynott and Julie Covington's 'The Spirit of Man' and the desperation of the insane Artillery Man in 'Brave New World' voiced wonderfully by David Essex. The quasi- disco beat sections are forgiven as they are shrouded by narration and powerful story telling elements.

The music itself with Chris Spedding's stirring lead guitar and full orchestration is ingeniuous. Jeff Wayne's arrangements are nothing short of mind bending, with powerful violin sweeps and science fiction effects used to maximum effect, including the unscrewing of the cylinder, searing heat rays, screams, cylinders falling on a house, and the martian howls. It is unnerving when Burton speaks of the martians emerging from the cylinder, their scales "glistening like wet leather, as the clumsy body heaved and pulsated." You can hear the disgust in his voice in these moments. He is also able to exude great sorrow and empathy when his beloved Carrie is gone and has an air of excitement as the Thunder Child vessel valiantly steams forward to meet the martian invaders head on. The song 'Thunder Child' is another very powerful composition on the album "Slowly it moved towards shore; then, with a deafening roar and whoosh of spray, it swung about and drove at full speed towards the waiting Martians" and some of the moments on the soundtrack are unforgettable. It is difficult to forget the war cry of the martians as they victoriously unleash their heat rays upon the helpless humans, "Ulla! Ulla!" and then Beth and the Priest fall victim to them. Beth cries out "Dear God help us!" and the Priest shouts "the voice of the devil is heard in our land!"

The lyrics of the songs are compelling and always essential as a driving force of the story. The words to 'Spirit of Man' are inspiring; "there must be something worth living for, even something worth dying for, and if one man can stand tall there must be hope for us all". The way Lynott spars off Covingtons's optimism with his own laudable pessimism is stunning. The album seems to get darker and darker as we near the end where the birds are about to tear at the hoods of the martians. The red weed is captured sonically with very doomy keyboard work. As it crawls across the land turning everything red we are able to picture its slow domination of our lush planet with those meandering synthesizers as they ooze variations of the theme. The piece segues into 'The Spirit of Man' but all hope seems lost as the story continues and the martians inject the blood of humans in to their own veins. This was certainly a creepy album in places but all the better for it as it leaves a strong impression on the listener.

Eventually the narrator meets another character that would try and coerce him in to a foolhardy plan. This becomes side 4 of the vinyl. The meeting with the Artillery Man is quite inspiring at first as the madman dreams of a new empire constructed underground so that the martians can no longer "clap eyes on us." He dreams of a world with hospitals, schools and cricket grounds built right under the martians noses, "right under their feet". He imagines capturing one of their fighting machines and then "wallop! Our turn to fight, woosh with our heat ray! Beating them at their own game. Man on top again!" Of course it is a forlorn idea and there is no way it can be done. As the narrator muses on this and walks off into the empty streets we hear the bone chilling cry of the martian but it sounds elongated and painful; "Uuu-llaa-aaaaaa!" the narrator resolves to give himself over to the martians as he can no longer live without his beloved Carrie and knowing the earth belonged to the martians. But, the martians are doomed, as H G Well's story always boasts, destroyed by the tiniest microscopic life on the planet that we have all become immune to; bacteria.

There is a nice twist to the story that is unique to this version of "The War of the Worlds" and it ends the album on a bleak note, but it is a strong ending that keeps the brain waves sizzling long after the album is over. Everytime the albums ends I always want to hear it again and I know all of the songs and most dialogue so well as it has become injected into my veins in the way the martians used human blood. The album really impacted me during the 80s and I believe it to be an indispensable milestone in conceptual albums.

I must have heard this album hundreds of times on vinyl. I played it morning, noon and night, often allowing it to put me to sleep as I dreamt of martians taking over the planet. I was always into science fiction and this music fuelled my interest. Since then of course, the album became a stage musical and I was privileged to see Justin Hayward reprise his role as Olgivy along with Chris Thompson's 'Thunder Child'. It is a masterpiece album without a doubt and one of my fondest childhood memories. Hearing it again on remastered CD enhances the original experience and this is an absolute treasure in any format.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Jeff Wayne's War of the World's Musical version got a lot of airplay when it came out in 1978 and was hard to ignore. It was in the long row of Double LP concept records appearing in the 70's going from Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, Quadrophenia to the Disco version of Sergeant Pepper and has some of the same flaws as the records mentioned, the main ones : being too long and too pompous. I didn't bought the record back then and I didn't remember having listened to the whole record also I quite liked what I heard, especially the great narrator's voice of Richard Burton. So the other day I came upon the vinyl on a flew market in near mint condition (including the booklet) and real cheap and it would have been a crime not to take it. So I listened for the first time to the entire record and it was quite fun. Most of you have got the story so far. It's a musical adaption of H.G. Wells's famous novel, having become even more famous due to Orson Welles radio play. What you basically got here is a greater part of narration, alternating with instrumental passages and a few songs, a couple in form of a duet and/or a choir vs. solo voice. The cast came mainly from the rock field Phil Lynnot (Thin Lizzy), Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann) David Essex, Julie Covington (Evita) plus some musicians equally from rock and/or studio background. Now, the overall atmosphere is a bit pompous and cheesy with a typical late 70's disco beat on the bottom, but it works and together with the narration and songs the record has aged rather well. Apart from the orchestral arrangements and the conceptual story there is not much prog in it so, the instrumental passages tend to be a bit overlong , redundant and not very daring. The melodic material is good, so not outstanding, Forever Autumn (sung by Justin Hayward) and Thunder Child (sung by Chris Thompson) are among the better songs. There are some leitmotivs appearing, the most famous one the Martian war cry "ULLA", made with a guitar talk box or a vocoder (?)And the Martian heat wave impersonated by Jo Partridge's guitar, plus a couple of synth sweeps linked to the aliens. All in all a pleasant listen with a nice retro touch eventually diminished by your acceptance or not of an ongoing disco beat.
Review by 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.

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5 stars 'No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space.' H. G. Wells' classic novel continues to be revised and updated for modern audiences, from Orson Welles' unintentionally devastating radio performan ... (read more)

Report this review (#82513) | Posted by Frankingsteins | Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What more can be said about The War of the Worlds than has already been said? It is a masterpiece of narration, story telling and progressive rock. I usually sum up the album like this: Everyone, at some stage in their life, should listen to this album all the way through. And when I say list ... (read more)

Report this review (#74840) | Posted by DrWu | Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As a fan of the Moody Blues, I was very pleased/interested to see Justin Hayward, ( the voice of "Nights in White Satin") achieve success/aclaim outside his band. The beautiful track, 'Forever Autumn' reached no.5 in the UK, and spent 13 weeks on that chart. This is a story-book album, set to ... (read more)

Report this review (#53805) | Posted by | Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I first heard this album when I was 13 and I loved it straight away, and I still love it now (at 40!). The music & narrative just blend so perfectly. It is 'Prog' for me in the way that it takes a story (obviously in this case a well known novel) and twists it with some fine instrumentation & ... (read more)

Report this review (#45722) | Posted by Wasp | Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is symphonic progressive rock mixed with a DISCO rhythm section. I can't give this record more than 2 stars because all this disco feel spoils an otherwise impressive piece of music. I know many people tirelessly praise this double album. I think the whole concept is great, the perform ... (read more)

Report this review (#42364) | Posted by Prosciutto | Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Did n't get turned on to this until a few years ago... Wished someone had turned me on to it much sooner. Very good ablum to have. It flows well, and at times still has the power to keep you in suspense with the story. Some of the effects are a touch cheesy but overall the story flows with ... (read more)

Report this review (#41804) | Posted by | Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Look - this has to get 4 stars because the good bits are so good, but the number of people giving this 5 stars just goes to show how over-the-top people can get with the things they love. The opening two tracks on disc 1 are epics / classics - whatever you want to call them - when they are pla ... (read more)

Report this review (#37288) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I not all into musicals and all that but this album is an exception (I'd give it 6 STARS if they had that option), for me the entire album is great, even David Essex and Phil Lynott have had their Prog Moment thank to this great album!!,though I prefer this version of "Forever Autumn", when I ... (read more)

Report this review (#32795) | Posted by PROGMAN | Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my favorite albums of all time. I first heard it when I was given it for my fifth birthday, as a child I was in awe of space, the planets, aliens and sience, (as any kid is). This album perfectly captured my imagination with it's atmospheric melodies and eerie effects, (I was ac ... (read more)

Report this review (#32791) | Posted by Squirrel_monkey | Friday, January 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Time for us to see long lost friends! First I realized Tangerine Dream, then Vangelis' all time masterpiece 666, and now this one! (Thanks to James Unger's recent review, otherwise I would have pass without noticing it, I didn't have in mind to check it as the previous two...) Now, one thing ab ... (read more)

Report this review (#32790) | Posted by Bilek | Monday, October 4, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of those albums that absolutely everyone should have in their collection. I've just introduced my children to it and it has become one of their favourites. At one time the sheet music for this was available but unfortunately I have never been able to track it down. Apparently it ... (read more)

Report this review (#32787) | Posted by | Wednesday, September 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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