Jeff Wayne
The War of the Worlds



by FreakMachine USER (2 Reviews)
January 9th, 2022 | 7 replies

Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A masterful retelling of a classic story, that has endured across the decades with good reason

There is an eerie claustrophobia to sections of Jeff Wayne's immensely successful musical adaptation of The War Of The Worlds that feels timeless. For one such example, a curious reader need only take the first minute of 'Horsell Common and the Heat Ray', with the subtle evolutions of a bass guitar riff merging with the story sound effects of a Martian cylinder being unscrewed and the confident narration of Richard Burton to create an utterly convincing tapestry of the end of the world. Such is the success of the 1978 progressive rock entity, that instinctive ability of its composer to blend fresh and interesting musical creativity with the utter horror of HG Wells' seminal source material to make something that is as fresh to listen to today as any of the latest and greatest works of contemporary modern musicians.

Those reading the words "progressive rock" on the description pages for any of the websites or publications dedicated to this work should not think of Rush, Pink Floyd, or Genesis; this is as far removed from those as metal from water. Absent are the vocal lines, scathing lyrical commentary, and meandering, winding, adjusting musical passages that last for multiple minutes at a time whilst dazzling with dozens of licks and flair pieces. In their place is a record boasting the precision of a surgeon's fingers, with riffs bouncing off one another in between lengthy passages of narration that tell the story of a journalist's trek across America during the time of a Martian invasion, occasionally segueing into otherworldly sound effects. Opening track 'The Eve of the War' is perhaps one of the more indulgent pieces here, utilizing just a couple of riffs throughout its nine minute runtime, serving as an excellent introduction to what is on display here. The vocal section towards the end is a highlight, and sums up the mood of the spoken and sung content here admirably, with the words "the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, but still they come."

'Thunder Child' has the distinction of being one of the shorter songs here excluding the sub-two-minute epilogues, and reuses the motif from the opening track whilst the narrations become still more urgent. Chris Thompson handles the vocals for this one, and delivers them fantastically, feeling like a blend between Yngwie Malmsteen and Peter Gabriel. The solo is also fantastic, with the numerous higher pitched notes leading fantastically into the return of the vocals, which contain so much energy that it is hard not to be completely and utterly absorbed into this. At the extreme end of the song length extremes is 'Brave New World', which again continues the tradition of reusing various aspects of the earlier tracks, here being the martian sound effects to open it up, before a lengthy and atmospheric discussion takes place regarding a fight for survival and a plan. The slower pace of this track, coupled with the Bowie-sounding vocals (at times) gives it a really unique sound.

This is an album that has managed to keep its head just about above water and remain memorized to this day, with stage adaptations having been repeated over and over again, including a famous 2013 version featuring Liam Neeson. It is a great, although not quite perfect, feeling a little too ambitious for times, but ultimately I can not find anything truly negative to say about it. Jeff Wayne's "The War of the Worlds" is a fabulous album I can't recommend highly enough.

user ratings (96)
other reviews of this album
PumpBoffBag (4.5)
A frightful delight...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
January 10th 2022


Album Rating: 4.5

This one is definitely a classic.

January 10th 2022


Album Rating: 4.0


January 10th 2022


Wayne's Worlds

January 10th 2022


Album Rating: 4.5


January 11th 2022


listening to this for the first time. so good

January 12th 2022


90 minutes have never felt so short

January 13th 2022


IWhy have I never heard of this? I'm gonna give this a spin for sure

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