In 2012, an all New Generation of artists guest on a fresh recording of one of the most iconic albums of all time. Originally released in 1978, Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of The Worlds
remains an award-winning landmark masterpiece that has continually won new fans. For 2012, Jeff embarked on a new interpretation with guest stars every bit as talented as their illustrious predecessors. He has once again brought HG Wells’ classic novel to life on a new double album.
Two of the modern era's most respected artists, Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson and celebrated singer/songwriter/producer and Take That’s main man Gary Barlow play the two key roles of The Journalist and The Sung Thoughts of The Journalist. Gary is the new voice of the singles "The Eve of The War" and "Forever Autumn". A life-long fan of the original album, he was most excited at the chance to appear on the new one. He says: "I've been a huge fan of The War of The Worlds
score since I was a kid, so to be asked to work with the legend that is Jeff Wayne was a real privilege."
Thirty-four years on, Liam Neeson inherits his role from Richard Burton, whose voice is an abiding memory for a generation haunted by his album narration. While a hard act to follow, he makes the role his own. Liam says: "I knew and loved the book from when I was a teenager and it was an easy persuasion. And I bought the album in 1979 when I was working in Ireland. I still have that little cassette.”
Ricky, from the Kaiser Chiefs, takes over from David Essex’s classic rendition as The Artilleryman. Ricky commented: “Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds
is part of the musical landscape and I have always been a fan. It is daunting to do because people love it so much. I got the email from Jeff Wayne inviting me to be part of it and that is not something you can say ‘No’ to.”
Bringing a fresh sound to the role of Parson Nathaniel is acclaimed new singer Maverick Sabre. Originally performed by Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Maverick performs with Joss Stone, the stunning choice to play Parson Nathaniel’s wife; their performances on "The Spirit Of Man" are truly mesmerising. Hot new talent, Alex Clare, following his breakout hit "Too Close", takes over as The Voice of Humanity, originally recorded by Chris Thompson.
H. G. Wells has long been a popular source of inspiration for film and theatre. Film adaptations of his work, such as The Time Machine and The Shape of Things to Come, have proved hugely influential; while his autobiographical tale Kipps became the hit musical Half a Sixpence for stage and screen.
Jeff Wayne composed and produced his original concept album take on Wells’ 1898 novel The War of the Worlds in 1978. It was issued to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Orson Welles' audacious adaptation of the novel for CBS radio, a broadcast that had some listeners believing that Martians had really arrived on Earth.
In this new, updated version, Wayne rekindles that peculiarly intimate feeling of listening to an old-style radio drama in the Welles manner, albeit with the narrative spoken over a sizeable orchestra overlaid with electronic effects.
In the original 1978 version, the role of the narrator/journalist was played by Richard Burton, who wove his sombre bardic magic around some pretty flat-footed dialogue. Liam Neeson now narrates in a gentler Celtic register, his extended cues somewhat divided by too much repetitive music.
Other star names in the new cast include Gary Barlow singing the plaintive Forever Autumn, Joss Stone in the thoughtful number The Spirit of Man, and best of all, Ricky Wilson from Kaiser Chiefs. The latter sings, with full fervour, Wells' utopian hymn to a Brave New World.
Despite adjustments to the instrumentation and some eerie new music for the Martians, this piece remains very much of its time – when grandiose symphonic sound met rock in a battle of wills. Brave New World is a reminder of the early Rice/Lloyd Webber songs and the film music of John Barry is echoed in the scene where the Martians arrive on Horsell Common. But is the incident of the unscrewing of the cylinder releasing the Martians across the Home Counties supposed to raise a laugh?
The recording, as heard through a surround sound system, packs a hefty wallop. And this release is nicely timed, as the show embarks on a UK tour in celebration of the father of science fiction, the very same H. G. Wells.
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