Summer 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds  
Music composed by Jeff Wayne
  Featuring: Richard Burton, David Essex, Julie Covington, Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott, Jo Partridge and Chris Thomson
Guitars – Chris Spedding & Jo Partridge; Bass Guitar – Herbie Flowers; Drums – Barry Morgan; Percussion – Barry De Souza, Roy Jones & Ray Cooper, Synths – Ken ‘Prof’ Freeman; Piano & Harpsichord – Jeff Wayne; Piano (on ‘The Red Weed’) – Paul Hart; Tar, Santur & Autoharp – George Fenton
  Available on Columbia-Sony/BMG (DPCD96000)
Running Time: 94:42
Amazon UK   Amazon US

This wonderful classic album has shrewdly been reissued to coincide with the Spielberg/John Williams War of the Worlds film and album, Jeff Wayne’s stunning take on the HG Wells classic story of the invasion ofEnglandby aliens from Mars.  First released to international acclaim in 1978, it is now available as a fold-out, slip-case double CD album with a 48-page booklet, glued in, with all the glorious illustrations of the original LP plus new artwork and full narrative and dramatic texts. The sound has been remixed in stereo and 5.1 surround sound for playback on all regular CD and SA-CD players.

Who could forget those hypnotic themes? [Perhaps some might find, after all these years, that they might be a little too repetitious – but maybe I am getting old!]

Gary Dalkin remarks in his review, on this site this month, of John Williams’s score for the new Spielberg film War of the Worlds, Richard Burton’s declamation of H.G. Wells’s texts is magisterial. His arresting performance is but one element in this classic: the synth effects for the Martians are awesome particularly in this new digital format, Justin Hayward’s sung thought’s of the journalist, ‘Forever Autumn’ bring a lump to the throat and Chris Thomson’s singing of ‘Thunder Child’ (the war ship that attacks the Martian machines to allow other shipping to escape their death rays) is wonderfully moving and defiant. Then there is Phil Lynott and Julie Covington as the disillusioned Parson Nathaniel and his restraining wife Beth in their ‘Spirit of Man’ duet  - with Beth’s memorable line, ‘If just one man could stand tall, There would be some hope for us all’.  And, of course, David Essex shines as the Artilleryman heroic and splendidly, if misguidedly optimistic, in his ‘Brave New World’- “we’ll start all over again” (underground). The NASA epilogue is a masterstroke.

Behind it all, there is Jeff Wayne’s creative genius (as composer, arranger, conductor and producer) with the script intelligently and sympathetically derived from the H.G. Wells novel by Jeff’s wife Doreen Wayne, and the equally inspired lyrics by Gary Osborne.  And it is interesting to see names like Herbie Flowers (Sky) and George Fenton (the admirable British film composer) in the list of performers.

A whole new generation has grown up since the original release of this classic. If you have never heard it – don’t hesitate go out and buy it, especially at the bargain price offered by so many stores.

Ian Lace

4.5

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