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War of the Worlds

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of the War of the Worlds to use its full title. A long name for a long album (95 minutes, 2 discs in the CD version) but it deserves to have that much of your time.

I read the novel (H.G. Wells, 1898) in my GCSE English class so I remembered vague parts of the story. Aliens, hiding in a cellar, creepy weedy red sprawl, the dramatic plot twist / anticlimax ending. Wayne must have been disatisfied with the original ending because he added his own (Epilogue, Pt. 2).

The 1970s sound design is fantastic - screeching, wailing synths and electric guitars over driving drums and funky bass. The power ballad tracks felt odd at first in a story set in Edwardian England but I was won over by the end.

Richard Burton's narration is sublime. His deep tones contribute more to the atmosphere than the music (which, as Lis commented, is sometimes strikingly upbeat for a story that aims to evoke unmitigated terror).

Listen if you like: Prog rock, 1970s, stories set to music

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