The Chances of Anything Coming From Mars Are a Million to One

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self portraitWell, you know the drill by now.

Have you got it?

No?

Seriously? It can’t be any more obvious… I mean, come on guys! Stuff coming from MARS? How many music albums involve that?

Jeez, I might as well not bother.

It’s obviously from the song ‘Eve of the War’, which is the opening tune on ‘Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds’. Please tell me you’ve heard of it? Even in passing? I hope you have, because not enough people know about this amazing work, despite the re-imagined version that came out in 2012. The original album was released in 1978, with famous voices such as Justin Haywood (From the Moody Blues), Richard Burton, Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzie) and David Essex. This star studded cast definitely helps with the album’s reputation and success (It reached no.5 in the UK album chart, and is the 39th best-selling album in the UK too), but I think the real reason why this album is in my list of favourites is the amazing standard of music and lyrics. It also has some of the best guitar pieces I’ve ever heard in a musical.

I’m probably stating the obvious here, but the album is based off of H. G. Wells’ novel ‘The War of the Worlds’, written in 1895. There’ve been a lot of different adaptations of this novel, the most recent being the 2005 film by Steven Spielberg, starring Mr Tom Cruise. There was also a 1953 film, numerous radio plays, and a television series that follows up the 1953 film.  So with all these adaptations of the novel, you would think that at least one of them would get even close to the epic novel? Nah… Not really.

Well, none of them except for one, which is Jeff Wayne’s musical. And with that, none of the adaptations have ever scared me in the same way the musical did when I was younger. Jeff Wayne is the master of making a creepy piece of music.

It’s divided into two parts, the first is the story of the initial invasion and an unnamed journalist’s attempt to survive and reach his love, Carrie. The second part is labelled “The Earth Under the Martians”, and it covers the journalist’s encounters with other survivors and what he sees as the Martians dominate the Earth.

You know how in my last post I mentioned that I really liked musicals? Well I realise that it must be pretty obvious to you guys now. But this isn’t your average musical; this is a rock album, and it really doesn’t let you forget it. The full orchestral composition is layered with screaming guitars and thumping bass lines. And the characters are brilliant; every one of them is a believable, real human being. I could put this down to the writing, but the artists on this album are as good at acting as they are singing. The best character has to be The Artilleryman, portrayed by David Essex. He’s one of the few survivors of the first attempt to destroy the Martians, and he travels with the Journalist for a while, before they are separated in an attack. However they do run into each other again, and the Journalist discovers that the Artilleryman has dreamed up a new civilisation for humanity. My love of the character is probably the reason why the songs ‘The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine’ and ‘Brave New World’ are possibly the highlights of the album for me. And even if you don’t like him, you can’t help but love Richard Burton’s portrayal of the Journalist. Best narration ever. Of all time.

Well there you have it, ‘Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds’. As with the others, I’m gonna tell you to listen to it, but what else would I tell you to do? You need to hear this album, it’s impeccable.

-Lewis

 

 

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