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War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

5.0 9
by Jeff Wayne

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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.


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, and the presence of Julie Covington and the Moody Blues' Justin Hayward in very attractive singing roles attest to its pop
ock aspirations. 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.) The album was actually appealing on too many fronts for its own good in many ways -- the Justin Hayward-sung ballad "Forever Autumn," extracted from a much longer piece on the double-LP -- showed some signs of appealing to AM radio listeners and climbed to the Top 40 based on airplay alone, but by the time Columbia Records in America (missing this boat entirely) got copies of the single into stores so that people could actually buy the record, the song had dropped back down; in the meantime, the record became a favorite of discos and dance clubs in New York and elsewhere, where its extended, highly rhythmic, synthesizer-driven sections delighted deejays and audiences, and Columbia missed another bet by not releasing an instrumental-only assembly of those long passages. (In New York, for years after it went out of print on vinyl, the album was sought after by club deejays eager to spin it). ~ Paul Collins and Bruce Eder

Product Details

Release Date:


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jeff Wayne   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Conductor,Keyboards,Track Performer
David Essex   Vocals,Track Performer
Justin Hayward   Vocals,Track Performer
Chris Spedding   Guitar
Julie Covington   Vocals,Track Performer
Herbie Flowers   Bass Guitar
Billy Lawrie   Background Vocals
Phil Lynott   Vocals,Track Performer
Chris Thompson   Vocals,Track Performer
Richard Burton   Vocals,Track Performer
Ray Cooper   Percussion
Laurence Diana   scratching
George Fenton   Zither,Taragat,Santur
Ken Freeman   Synthesizer,Keyboards
Barry Morgan   Drums
Gary Osborne   Background Vocals
Jo Partridge   Guitar,Vocals,Track Performer
Paul Vigrass   Background Vocals
Jerry Wayne   Voices
Roy Jones   Percussion
Barry Da Souza   Percussion

Technical Credits

David Essex   Contributor
Justin Hayward   Contributor
Julie Covington   Contributor
Phil Lynott   Contributor
Chris Thompson   Contributor
Jeff Wayne   Producer,Orchestration
Richard Burton   Contributor
Laurence Diana   Contributor
Jo Partridge   Contributor
Jerry Wayne   Director,Executive Producer
Geoff Young   Engineer
John Pasche   Art Direction
Peter Goodfellow   Artwork
Charles Dubin   Director
Pest   Sound Effects

Customer Reviews

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The War of the Worlds 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has been one of my favorites for a long time. I have owned two sets of the album version and wore them out. Now I'm glad it's come out in this great set. It sounds amazing. The music and narraration completely draw the listener in. I have to say that unlike the previous reviewer, I do think it is better than the recent movie. But I like all the other adaptations. For anyone who is a War of the Worlds fan, of either the play, movies or whatever, this is a must have. You won't regret owning it. The only hard part is trying to get others to take the time to listen to it in this age of instant gratification. But those that have, really enjoyed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, so it's not quite like Napoleon the XIV's wacky 1966 one hit wonder, but oooooh, so much better! So realistic, you will actually think the Martians ARE coming after you! A stellar group musicans come together and create this true classic from the late 1970's.
SS70 More than 1 year ago
I'll begin with the excellent marks: The entire album seems to have been remastered as a whole, rather than in segments. This prevents the segmentalization which I have seen in projects of this sort. However, here are the poor notes: None of the songs proper have been included in their edited form, which means that "Forever Autumn" in particular is missed. Why, with so much space left on both CDs, the producers refused to include the single mixes of "Forever Autumn" and "The Spirit of Man", is beyond me, unless they want you to ante up for another album. Also, the packaging is as bad as Sony/Legacy have come up with: The booklet which contains the lyrics and artwork is glued into the third panel of the digipak package, which makes reading it unwieldy at best. I can only recommend this to a devoted fan who needs a copy now. Considering that CDs are on their way out, this may be the only format in which you can get WotW easily. If so, get it. Just be prepared for the shortcomings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When you are a 16 year old college student, and travelling each monday 120 miles, you need a piece of music to listen to. 20 years ago this was the piece of music that had me looking through the car window waiting for an alien to take me away (in Wales). Its taken me a long time to find in the USA, FANTASTIC.
hacyco More than 1 year ago
One of my alltime favorites
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a pleasant surprise to find this on CD. I have not been able to listen to this for quite some time since I received the 8 track version (!) for Christmas in 1978 and I have not had a working 8 track player for at least 20 years. This sure brought back a lot of memories and it is best appreciated if one keeps in mind that it is a product of the time in which it was released. Richard Burton's narration is the highlight of this disc and when combined with Jeff Wayne's original score it creates a chilling, at times, hypnotic effect. Justin Hayward's haunting ballad, "Forever Autumn," the hit single that never was in US, is a bona fide lost classic that sounds good to hear on CD at last. The late Phil Lynnott, of Thin Lizzy, turns in his finest vocal performance ever as the deranged parson on the sweeping duet, "The Spirit of Man" with Julie Covington. David Essex shines on "Brave New World" which also, surprisingly, was not a hit in US. Listening to Essex's performance hear, one wonders why Essex never became the worldwide superstar he seemed destined to become. The musical tracks are especially effective at setting the mood and drawing the listener into the narrative, particularly "The Eve of the War," Horsel Common & the Heat Ray," and "The Red Weed." While this is in no way superior to H.G. Well's novel, Orson Welles's brilliant radio adaptation, or even Stephen Spielberg's recent motion picture version, it is a classic nevertheless and as a period piece it definitely stands alone. If you want to relive the glory days of the late 70s, this is a must have for your collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very enjoyable couple of hours. Great for a family evening time, with the lights low. Also good for a road trip. The songs are excellent, and are laced with emotion, sort of 70's style. I've remebered parts of the songs for years after hearing them once! What more can you say?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first heard this on vinyl way back in 1979 when I was 8 years old... It made me look up into the sky on many occasion. As I got older it was one of the first records I purchased.. Then CD came out and I purchased it again (even when I didn't have a cd player) Then the special edition as my current CD was now scratched and worn out from play. Love It. Get It
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the rock opra it's so cool to here these clasic tunes restord on cd and mp3!! this is somthing my dad gave to me and i love it. Im 14 y/o and i love classics like springstien,kiss,steve miller band,bto,dion, all of these are a great colection! thank you god bless
Guest More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt one of the classic albums of the 1970's, even better if you can grab the re-mastered late 1990's release with extra tracks. Hopefully someone will make a true to the book version as a movie, not like the cheesy 1950's movie or the overhyped flag-waving independance day, in both cases in the USA, and not good old blighty at the turn of the century. Personally i'd rather see the old fashioned version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever made! There is not a weak moment on this record. My favorite track on this record is "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray". Buy this album!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most popular & spectacular music in the world, is war of the worlds. Listen to its music & you will ''shiver with antisipation.''
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm so glad it's on CD with better sound quality because I wore out 2 8-track versions in the late 70's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantastic to listen to over and over and hear some of the artists who are no longer with us. The ultimate CD classical and rock buffs. With a story as well! They should turn it into a musical or concert and tour!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago