Tuesday, December 4, 2018

freakboy muses music: Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

A huge thanks to Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews for inviting me to participate in her Regaling about Richard Burton Blogathon
If you knew me in the 1990's, there is a real possibility you saw me on my knees rummaging through boxes of vinyl in search of Julie Brown's 1984 mini-album Goddess In Progress.  During that 7 year quest, (never call me a quitter),  I stumbled upon some unexpected gems.  

I was in a small, but groovy, mall music store in Kearney, Nebraska during the height of compact discs.  There I was, flipping through records, when a vibrant cover and a jaw-dropping title caught my eye.  While I was disappointed in not finding what I wanted, I was excited by finding Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.  Good or bad, I knew I had to hear this 2-disc album.  

The unexpected surprises didn't stop with just finding the record.  I was stunned when I recognized an extremely recognizable name in the cast list.  Richard Burton.  I barely believed it until I dropped the needle on the spinning vinyl.  

Richard Burton's commanding, sophisticated, intelligent voice kicks off this tale of a 19th Century Martian invasion.  Burton portrays The Journalist and everything that occurs is seen through his eyes.  He keeps the listener enthralled during the excitement, tragedy and strange beauty within this unique version of H.G. Wells' classic novel. 

As for the music, it's more rock opera than traditional musical.  The songs convey the emotions of the characters and move the plot along.  A personal favorite is The Spirit of Man, where The Journalist meets a deranged parson and his wife.  It's a powerful song about the battle between giving up and remaining hopeful.  

The only negative aspect of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is that Burton doesn't sing a single note.  Even with this deficiency, this 1978 album is definitely worth your time and attention.  If for no other reason than its a truly unique moment in the historic career of Richard Burton

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out,

P.S.  A blogpost about my 7 year quest...


  1. Love this post, saw he sang in Camelot (opposite Julie Andrews) and would have been lovely to have this as a bonus track. Thanks for joining the blogathon as I always really enjoy your contribution!

    1. You're welcome & thank you, Gill!
      I'll have to check out Camelot to hear him sing!m

  2. Love the novel & bought this when it first came out. Burton had one of the most beautiful speaking voices of any actor &vwas the perfect choice.

  3. You have beautifully described the distinctive and unmistakable vocal style of the great Richard Burton. Though I have yet to hear Warnofnthe Worlds, I can hear his voice in my head. I do remember his voice as narrator of the Dylan Thomas poem/play Under Milkwood...
    It was said that Burton used that famous voice to mesmerize and hypnotize his female costars and maneuver them into the sack...easy to hear how that would be successful...
    - Chris

    1. Thank you, Chris.
      I imagine Burton was quite successful in wooing his female co-stars with the power of his voice.
      I will have to look into Under Milkwood!

  4. Great post, John! I'm a big fan of War of the Worlds in practically any incarnation, so I will have to seek this out. Not sure how this slipped by me before. Thanks for re-discovering this!

    1. Thank you, Barry an you're welcome!
      It's a unique experience and worth listening to.
      I'm pretty sure it's on Spotify and Apple Music.