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War of the Worlds

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Album Review

Released 40 years after Orson Welles' infamous radio version of the H.G. Wells tale, Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds straddles old-style radio drama and contemporary orchestrated narratives by Rick Wakeman and David Bedford. And while it lacks the sophisticated arrangements of, say, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, it does boast an impressively odd cast — this may be the only time that a member of Thin Lizzy worked with Richard Burton. Indeed, it's Burton's sonorous tones that sustain this work; his frequent solo narrations are eminently listenable, whereas sections featuring dialogue with other characters often come off as a bit stilted. The music is competent studio rock, and "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray" does strike just the right balance between Burton's narration and an accompaniment built around a buzzsaw guitar riff. Overall, it's pleasant as a period piece, and still a fine way to introduce younger listeners to Wells' classic tale. (And if you can find it in a vinyl, it comes with a nicely produced narrative booklet with gloriously lurid illustrations by Geoff Taylor.) [War of the Worlds, Rovi

Customer Reviews

70's adaptation of the H. G. Wells Classic

This album featured members of the Moody Blues in a 1978 retelling of Orson Wells' legendary radio broadcast which was mistaken for actual reporting on the invasion of the earth according to some. A narrated rendition of the story is interlaced with rock interludes including "Forever Autumn" which appeared more recently in releases by the Moody Blues. The musical is presently running in Austrailia. The original 1978 LP spanned four sides of vinyl and included oil paintings commissioned to illustrate several of the most eery and, or, frightening visuals of the tale, modernizing the original film in which the Martian invaders rode inside flying machines. A number of remakes were released in the 80's and 90's before the very successful 2005 Steven Spielberg production starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. The prologue and epilogue narration of the movie spoken by Morgan Freeman follows this album almost word for word. The film also brought some of the oils from this album to even more frightening life. Science Fiction, Moody Blues and Wells fans alike will thoroughly enjoy this one.


Perfect. If only everyting could be this well writen!

A deeply haunting masterpiece

I first heard War of the Worlds when I was only a kid, and from the first moment I heard the echoing cry of the Martians, I knew this was something unique. It is a well-told and exciting classic story narrated with a sense of understanding of the HG Wells tale, and it flows together nicely with the songs that bring the storyline to a whole new level. One song in particular is "Forever Autumn." This is a chilling melodic song that would be loved by any music fan, not just a War of the Worlds fanatic. Yet probably the most insightful aspect of this musical is the unearthly sound effects. The Martian cry is so piercing it will leave you breathless, and the wide array of instruments help the story come to life. But most of all, there is the synthesizers. Those absolutely haunting and heart-stopping synthesizers which are remeniscent of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" will follow you around and never leave your head; a constant reminder of this stroke of genius. I would very strongly reccommend this musical to anyone who is even remotely interested in the story, as it can bring the story to those who do not like the complications and science of the book, and for those who have read it, this brings it to a whole new level you cannot understand until you have experienced it.


Born: July 1, 1943

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jeff Wayne was already a well-known figure in British rock circles when he created The War of the Worlds, the piece for which he would remain known to the public for more than a quarter century after. He was born in New York, the son of actor Jerry Wayne, but he ended up being raised for four years in England, when his father was cast in the role of Sky Masterson in the original London production of Guys and Dolls. In New York, he attended Forest Hills High School and his keen interest in music,...
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War of the Worlds, Jeff Wayne
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