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


Jeff Wayne


Crossover Prog

3.96 | 179 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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