Over three decades ago, Jeff Wayne turned the iconic science fiction novel of HG Wells into a concept album, and instantly a cult classic was born.
The 1978 album, which featured progressive rock along with a string orchestra, retold the 1898 tale in music and song.
Though years have passed – and plenty of War of the Worlds adaptations have come and gone – the album has retained its place in the nation’s music collections. Since its release, it has sold more than 15 million copies and it’s still the 38th best selling album of all time.
But creator Jeff Wayne has decided it’s time for an update – and, along with a number of contemporary artists, including Gary Barlow, Joss Stone and Liam Neeson, he has reinterpreted and reproduced the goosebump-enducing record.
The original album featured Hollywood great Richard Burton, The Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward, Thin Lizzy vocalist Phil Lynott and musician David Essex.
For the new release Richard Burton’s iconic narration has been re-recorded by oscar nominated Irish actor Liam Neeson, while Gary Barlow’s vocals will replace those of Justin Haywards, singing the iconic line “The chances of anything coming form Mars are a million to one – but still they come.”
Barlow said: “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.”
Neeson was also a fan of the original, saying: “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.”
The new album will be released in November, digitally and on double vinyl. With the original reaching number one in 11 countries, it’s a tough act to follow…
Listen to the opening of Jeff Wayne’s original score…