June 29, 2005

CD Review: Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds

I loved HG Welles War of the Worlds when I was a kid, although I don't recall most of the details, I also loved George Pal's take on the book in 1953. Then this caught my eye, I had never heard of Jeff Wayne before, nor this musical version. I was intrigued, but I was not sure what would great me on the analog side of the digital divide.

I slipped the first disk in and hit play. I was first greeted with the opening narration from Richard Burton, setting up the interstellar drama that would eat up the next 90 minutes or so. Once the music started, I still wasn't sure what to think. It didn't really grab me during those opening minutes. I think that may have been because I had no idea what to expect.

The more it went on, the more I got sucked into the invasion. The music and the voice talent made the story seem fresh again. Even now, nearly thirty years after it's initial release, the story of a Martian invasion at the close of the 19th century still bears weight.

I have listened through it a few more times, and now the word that springs to mind is ambitious. The album grows better and better with each successive listen. Portions of the music, dialogue, singing, they get stuck in your head. The drama builds, tension increases.

It is a combination of classical orchestrations and 1970's progressive rock. mix in the rock opera narrations and dialogue, and you're good to go. I would love to see this done as a show, perhaps a Broadway type production. Based on what we have here, it's already written, it just needs the visuals added, outside of what my mind has created.

Bottomline. This is a fantastic production. I am surprised it has taken me this long to discover it. Jeff Wayne has crafted a wonderful show that is ambitious in scope and entertaining in execution. This is for anyone who likes the Welles tale, or grandiose rock operas.

Highly Recommended.

Visit the official site here.
Purchase the deluxe edition here.
Purchase the digipak edition here.
I found a site that has a transcription of the narration, here.

Also at Blogcritics.org.


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