808s / The UK's Greatest Hits

The UK’s Greatest Hits: 37. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – Jeff Wayne


Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – Jeff Wayne – 1978

First listen? – Yes

Now for something completely different. This album is unlike anything else on this list. A musical without a stage, a performance piece without any performers, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is so weird to comprehend in the current chart that it’s probably no surprise it’s had such a lasting effect on the British public. I’ve heard some of the album before, mainly the opening track which happens to be the ongoing theme throughout, but I’d never listened to it all in one go. With two distinct halves (As many vinyl era albums on this list will feature) it felt slightly disjointed to a new listener. Half of the album is the sort of dramatic, narrative driven tracks that happen to have big choruses sang in the same narration form. The other half is conversational duets and self reflection musical songs, which I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t expect to hear other characters singing at each other, I assumed the album was more thematic; songs about what was happening on a global scale and not the personal tale of a song like The Spirit of Man. The best part of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is definitely the main theme, which appears in seemingly every track in some form. It keeps things thematically relevant and allows this to feel like a true concept album. Every time it comes back it becomes more dramatic and epic in scale. It kept me hooked on the often vague storyline and I saw the album right through without questioning its place in UK music history. It’s such a baffling concept for an album, but that’s exactly why it works. It fits alongside acts like Pink Floyd surprisingly well despite standing out among the other 39 albums on this list.

Rating: 7/10

Will I listen again?:  Probably not.

Best Track: The Eve of the War

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