Having been an avid fan of JEFF WAYNE'S MUSICAL VERSION OF THE WAR OF THE WORLDS since the late 1970s, and listening to this classic album many more times than I care to remember (including live on stage a couple of years ago), I was naturally thrilled to hear that it was going to be re-released with an entirely new cast.
Acclaimed Irish actor LIAM NEESON takes over narration duties from Welshman RICHARD BURTON to tell the story of an Alien invasion from Mars in the late nineteenth century. The Martians travel to Earth in huge cylinders and emerge with their terrifying heat ray weaponry and gigantic tripod war machines to wreck havoc and destruction upon Victorian England.
During his ordeal to escape the advancing Martians, a young journalist (NEESON) meets various characters including an idealistic Artilleryman (RICKY WILSON), a doubt-ridden Parson (MAVERICK SABRE) and his pragmatic wife (JOSS STONE) while at the same time witnessing key events like the destruction of the mighty Ironclad, Thunderchild.
I was extremely happy with this new recording and pleasantly surprised at how much more additional content had been included to help flesh out the story. A nice touch, too, was the water effect during the first tripod attack!
While perhaps NEESON sounds a little too calm in his narration and there is not quite the same level of intensity in the song SPIRIT OF MAN as previously expressed by JULIE COVINGTON and PHILIP LYNOTT in the original version, these are only mild criticisms in what builds convincingly on an already outstanding body of work.
The two discs come nicely packaged in a little booklet which also includes biographies of the cast, a full transcript of the entire text (with additional content in gold for easy reference) and the original pictures have been redrawn, too.
Consequently some people will hate this NEXT GENERATION edition simply because they love the original version so much, but hopefully they will still give it the chance which it so richly deserves!