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Template:Album ratings Template:Listen Template:Italic title Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is the debut studio album by Jeff Wayne, retelling the story of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells,[1] released September 6, 1978. A concept album, its main format is progressive rock and string orchestra, using narration and leitmotifs to carry the story via rhyming melodic lyrics that express the feelings of the various characters. The two-disc album remains a bestseller, having sold millions of records around the world,[1] and by 2009 it was the 40th best selling album of all time in the UK with sales of 2,561,286.[2] It has since spawned multiple versions of the album, video games, DVDs, and live tours.

Plot summaryEdit

The album consists of two disks, which correspond roughly to the two "books" of Wells' novel.

Part 1: The Coming of the MartiansEdit

In a prologue, the Journalist notes that in the late 19th century few people had even considered the possible existence of extraterrestrial life, and yet, planet Earth had in fact long been enviously observed by advanced beings.

The Journalist's account begins with the sighting of several bursts of green gas which, for ten consecutive nights, erupt from the surface of Mars and appear to approach Earth. Ogilvy, an astronomer convinced that no life could exist on Mars, assures the Journalist there is no danger. Eventually something crashes onto Horsell Common, and in the resulting crater Ogilvy discovers a glowing cylinder, the top of which begins to unscrew. When this lid falls off, a Martian creature emerges. By now a crowd has gathered on the common, and when a group of inquisitive men approach the cylinder they are incinerated by the Heat-Ray—an advanced Martian weapon. The Journalist flees with the crowd. Later, hammering sounds are heard from the pit. A company of soldiers is deployed at the common, and that evening an injured and exhausted Artilleryman wanders into the Journalist's house and tells him his comrades have been killed by fighting machines—tripod vehicles built and controlled by Martians, each armed with its own Heat-Ray. They set off for London—the Journalist to ensure his lover Carrie is safe, the Artilleryman to report to headquarters—but are soon caught in crossfire between soldiers and Martians and separated. Three days later the Journalist arrives at Carrie's house but finds it empty. He resolves to escape London by boat and later catches sight of Carrie aboard a steamer, but the gangplank is raised before he can join her. Fighting machines then approach, threatening the steamer, but they are engaged by the Royal Navy battleship Thunder Child and two are destroyed. The steamer escapes, but Thunder Child and her crew are melted by heat-rays, leaving England defenceless against the invasion.

Part 2: The Earth Under the MartiansEdit

The wandering Journalist discovers that red weed—the vegetation that gives Mars its colour—has taken root on Earth and spread rapidly across the landscape. In a churchyard he encounters the Parson Nathaniel and his wife Beth. The trio take refuge in a nearby cottage that is soon surrounded by black smoke—a Martian chemical weapon. Nathaniel, driven mad by his experiences, blames himself for the invasion and believes the invaders are demons arising from human evil. As Beth attempts to restore his faith in humanity, a Martian cylinder crashes into the cottage and she is buried under the rubble. The newly-arrived Martians construct a handling machine: a squat, spider-like vehicle used to capture and collect humans. After nine days hiding in the ruins, the Journalist and Nathaniel see the Martians 'eating'—harvesting human blood and injecting it into their own veins. Nathaniel resolves to confront the 'demons', believing that he has been chosen to destroy them with his prayers and holy cross. The Journalist knocks him unconscious to silence his ravings, but the Martians are already alerted. A mechanical claw explores the cottage and drags Nathaniel away. Eventually the Martians abandon their camp and the Journalist continues his journey to London. He again encounters the Artilleryman, who is planning a subterranean utopia that would allow humans to evade the Martians and ultimately strike back with reverse-engineered fighting machines. The Journalist, however, realising the Artilleryman's ambitions far exceed his abilities, soon leaves. Upon reaching London he finds it desolate and empty. Driven to suicide by intense despair and loneliness, he surrenders to a fighting machine but realises it is inert, the Martian inside dead.

In his epilogue, the Journalist reports that the Martians were defeated by Earth's bacteria—to which they had no resistance—and that, as humanity recovered from the invasion, he was reunited with Carrie. But, he says, the question remains: is Earth now safe, or are the Martians learning from their failures and preparing a second invasion?

In a second epilogue set in the near future, a NASA mission to Mars flounders when the control centre loses contact with the craft. The controller sees a green flare erupt from Mars's surface.

Differences from Wells' novelEdit


  • "The Journalist" is an amalgam of two of Wells' characters: a writer of speculative philosophy (who narrates much of the book) and his younger brother who is a medical student (who narrates the Thunder Child section).
  • The Journalist's girlfriend Carrie does not exist in the novel, where the narrator has an unnamed wife. Carrie serves two purposes: firstly, she provides a reason for the Journalist to travel to London, where he experiences the events witnessed in the novel by the narrator's brother. Secondly, she provides the focus for the Journalist's thoughts in the song "Forever Autumn".
  • In the novel, the Handling machine is not as big, is used for construction and does not have a basket for collecting humans. Instead the Fighting machines collect humans for consumption.
  • In the novel, the Martians have at least one flying machine and also an autonomous digging machine. Neither are mentioned in the album.
  • "Parson Nathaniel" in the novel is simply called "the curate". There is no mention of a wife.





  • Richard Burton – narration (The Journalist) (via a "virtual" Richard Burton: a large bust of the Journalist plus a projected image)
  • Liam Neeson – narration (The Journalist) (The New Generation 2012, 2014 and the Dominion Theatre stage production 2016)[3]
  • Justin Hayward – vocals (The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist) (all tours: 2006, 2007 Australian, 2007 UK, 2009 30th Anniversary, and 2010 tour)
  • Alexis James – dialogue and vocals (The Artilleryman) (2006, 2007 UK, and 2009 30th Anniversary tour)
  • Michael Falzon – spoken words and vocals (The Artilleryman) (2007 Australian tour)
  • Jason Donovan – dialogue and vocals (The Artilleryman) (2010 tour)
  • Chris Thompson – vocals (The Voice of Humanity) (all tours: 2006, 2007 Australian, 2007 UK, 2009 30th Anniversary, and 2010 tour)
  • Russell Watson – dialogue and vocals (Parson Nathaniel) (2006 tour)
  • Shannon Noll – dialogue and vocals (Parson Nathaniel) (2007 Australian and first half of 2009 30th Anniversary tour)
  • John Payne – dialogue and vocals (Parson Nathaniel) (2007 UK tour)
  • Damien Edwards – dialogue and vocals (Parson Nathaniel) (second half of 2009 30th Anniversary tour)
  • Rhydian Roberts – dialogue and vocals (Parson Nathaniel) (2010 tour)
  • Tara Blaise – dialogue and vocals (Beth) (2006 tour)
  • Rachael Beck – dialogue and vocals (Beth) (2007 Australian tour)
  • Sinéad Quinn – dialogue and vocals (Beth) (2007 UK tour)
  • Jennifer Ellison – dialogue and vocals (Beth) (2009 30th Anniversary tour)
  • Liz McClarnon – dialogue and vocals (Beth) (2010 tour)
  • Carrie Hope Fletcher – dialogue and vocals (Beth) (2014 tour)
  • Daniel Boys – dialogue and vocals (Male Understudy) (all tours: 2006, 2007 Australian, 2007 UK, 2009 30th Anniversary, and 2010 tour)

Black Smoke BandEdit



  • Jeff Wayne – composer, conductor
  • Chris Spedding – electric guitar, acoustic guitar
  • Herbie Flowers – bass guitar
  • Huw Davies – Electric Guitar
  • Gaetan Schurrer – Tar, Keyboards
  • Tom Woodstock – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Laurie Wisefield – guitars, mandolin, autoharp, tar
  • Accy Yeats – drums
  • Gordy Marshall – drums
  • Julia Thornton – percussion, harp, keyboards
  • Steve Turner – keyboards
  • Neil Angilley – keyboards
  • Kennedy Aitchison – keyboards

String OrchestraEdit


  • Littlechap Strings



About the albumEdit

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds was created by composer Jeff Wayne based on the 1898 novel by H. G. Wells. It features Academy Award nominated actor Richard Burton, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Chris Thompson (of Manfred Mann's Earth Band), Phil Lynott (of Thin Lizzy), Julie Covington (of Evita and Rock Follies), and David Essex (Evita, The China Plates). Wayne conducts what would come to be known as the Black Smoke Band and the ULLAdubULLA string orchestra.Template:Cn

"Forever Autumn" was a UK Top 5 single, sung by Hayward. In Canada, it only managed to reach #73 and fared only slightly better in the US, peaking at #47. The album itself spent 290 weeks in the UK album charts. It was in the top 10 in 22 countries and reached #1 in 11 countries. In Canada, the album reached just #76.

Most of the lyrics on the album were written by former Elton John lyricist Gary Osborne.Template:Cn

The album was one of the first recorded on 48 tracks, using two synchronised 24 track Studer A80s at Advision Studios in London. It was engineered by Geoff Young, who brought the recordings together with only a 16 track desk. He later worked with George Michael to record "Last Christmas" and "Careless Whisper" using the same studio and equipment.

The repetition of "Ulla!", the cry made by the Martians, and certain musical refrains throughout the musical act as leitmotifs.

The official album comes with several paintings by Peter Goodfellow, Geoff Taylor and Michael Trim that illustrate the story.

Other versions of the albumEdit

To promote the 1978 release, an abridged album containing "Radio edits" was distributed to radio stations. Special intros and endings had to be added to certain tracks because they simply were not written with radio in mind. The "air play" album turned out so well that in 1981 CBS decided to release it commercially under the title Highlights from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

Two Spanish versions of the album were released in 1978, one featuring Anthony Quinn in the role of the journalist, and the other for Spain featuring Teófilo Martínez in the same role. A version in Dutch was recorded for Radio Veronica in the Netherlands, but never released as an album. A German version was released in 1980 with Curd Jürgens taking the part of the journalist.

A 1989 version of "The Eve of the War" remixed by Ben Liebrand reached number 3 in the UK singles chart. A 1995 edition of the album featured additional remixes of some tracks and additional conceptual art. Australian progressive metal band Alchemist released a version of "Eve of the War" on a 1998 EP.

In 2000, a collection of remixes of tracks from the original album—including several used in the 1998 computer game—were released on a double CD titled The War of the Worlds: ULLAdubULLA—the Remix Album. While most of the contributors are relatively unknown,[4] the album includes two versions of a remix of "Dead London" by Apollo 440 and other remixes by house-music pioneer Todd Terry.

On 23 June 2005 the original album was re-released in two forms: one in a remastered 2-disc Hybrid Multichannel Super Audio CD set; another in a 7-disc "Collector's Edition" featuring additional remixes, outtakes, the actors reading from the unabridged script, excerpts from the Anthony Quinn and Curd Jürgens performances as the reporter, as well as a seventh disc being a DVD showing the making of the album, produced by Phoenix Film & Television Productions.

While the original ULLAdubULLA album had a limited run and went out of print, following the success of the 2005 re-release of the original album, ULLAdubULLA II was released on 17 April 2006. This single CD release was largely made of tracks from the original remix album, with some additional new remixes by Tom Middleton and DJ Keltech, and hip-hop versions of two tracks by DJ Zube. Middleton's remixes of "The Eve of the War" were also released on CD and vinyl.

Beyond the albumEdit

Video gamesEdit

In 1984 CRL Group PLC released Jeff Wayne's Video Game Version of The War of the Worlds for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer. It was also released in Germany as Jeff Wayne's Video Version von Der Krieg der Welten.

In 1998, a real-time strategy game, Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds, was created by Rage Software and released for the personal computer. Jeff Wayne himself produced the musical arrangements for the game, consisting of 45 minutes of material re-scored and remixed in a newer electronica style with techno beats. The game's artwork was based on the Michael Trim, Geoff Taylor and Peter Goodfellow illustrations found throughout the original album booklet, and some of Richard Burton's dialogue as the journalist is used in the opening and closing scenes.

In 1999, a third-person shooter, also entitled Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds, was developed by Pixelogic and released for the Sony PlayStation. It used much of the 1998 game's music and graphical elements, but featured an entirely different campaign with a focus on vehicular combat.

Animated versionEdit

In late 2004 the ULLAdubULLA II production had been commissioned for an animated CGI film version. Test footage of some Martian machines was released, but the film itself never materialised.[5]


File:Liz McClarnon War of The Worlds.jpg

A live tour, based on the album, began in the UK and Ireland in April 2006. Jeff Wayne returned to conduct the 48-piece ULLAdubULLA Strings and 10-piece Black Smoke Band. A "virtual" Richard Burton (a large bust of the Journalist onto which was projected an image of a young Burton with a super-imposed actor's mouth and jaw lip synched to the original Burton recordings) performed as The Journalist. Justin Hayward reprised his original role as The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist and Chris Thompson returned as The Voice Of Humanity. Also from the original recording were Chris Spedding playing lead guitar and Herbie Flowers on bass guitar. Other guest artists who appeared were the "People's Tenor" Russell Watson as Parson Nathaniel, Alexis James as The Artilleryman, and Tara Blaise as Beth. Daniel Boys (known from BBC's Any Dream Will Do) was understudy for all the roles sung by male artists. A model Fighting Machine featured on stage. A short animated 'prequel' to the story was also presented in the style of the upcoming feature-length film detailing the Martians' ecological destruction of their own world (which was originally made for the 1998 computer game) and their preparations to invade Earth, and including a short remix of "The Red Weed". The show was produced by Ray Jones, Damian Collier and Jeff Wayne.

The live show toured Australia and New Zealand in 2007, with dates in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Auckland. The Australian tour featured Australian Idol runner-up Shannon Noll as Parson Nathaniel, actress Rachael Beck as Beth and Michael Falzon as the Artilleryman, alongside Justin Hayward and Chris Thompson from the original cast with Chris Spedding and Herbie Flowers in the band.[6] A further UK live tour took place in December 2007 with Justin Hayward, Chris Thompson, Alexis James, John Payne as Parson, and Sinéad Quinn as Beth.

2008 marked the 30th anniversary of the original album release and a number of events took place, including a "30th Anniversary Tour" which started on 7 June 2009 in Dublin.[7] The 30th anniversary saw Justin Hayward, Alexis James and Chris Thompson reprise their respective roles, with Shannon Noll taking the role of Parson Nathaniel and Jennifer Ellison as Beth. When Noll had to leave the show halfway through its 2009 tour, the role of Parson Nathaniel went to Damien Edwards, who completed the run. The virtual Richard Burton was also improved; the whole face was animated (an actor was found with a similar facial structure, all of Burton's narrative parts were mimed, and his face was super-imposed onto the face of the actor). In November 2009, Wayne announced on his website dates for another tour in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands, and for the first time, Belgium, in late 2010–early 2011. Justin Hayward and Chris Thompson reprised their roles as The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist and The Voice of Humanity respectively, with Rhydian Roberts as Parson Nathaniel, Jason Donovan as The Artilleryman and Liz McClarnon as Beth.


A two disc Region 2 DVD of the 2006 Wembley Arena, London show was released 6 November 2006 by Universal. Disc 1 contains the live show and Disc 2 contains extras and a documentary of the making of the live show. It is titled Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of The Worlds - Live on Stage.

The New GenerationEdit

Template:Main In 2011 after a short hiatus from touring, Jeff Wayne announced a new Musical Version of The War of the Worlds album to be released in June 2012 entitled The New Generation.[8] The release date was later pushed back to November, due to problems with scheduling recordings with guest artists.[9] With the album's release, The New Generation would also cross Europe on a major arena tour.

Wayne explained that the idea was to return to the original album and explore H. G. Wells' characters in more detail, as well as develop the love story between the story's main character, George Herbert, and his fiancee Carrie. Wayne also explained that it would allow him to re-interpret his compositions with the new production techniques of today.

Along with the new album would come a new voice of the Journalist, originally played by Richard Burton in the 1978 album. The role would now be played by Irish actor Liam Neeson, appearing in 3D holography on stage for the Arena tour. On 1 March 2012, Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson was announced as the Artilleryman for both the album release and the tour version, while Kerry Ellis would play Beth for the arena tour only.

Later, Marti Pellow was added to the tour cast and announced as the Voice of Humanity and it was confirmed that Jason Donovan would return to the production but as Parson Nathaniel rather than the Artilleryman, which he played on the previous tour. Later it was announced that Marti Pellow had switched roles to the Sung Thought of the Journalist; Jettblack's lead singer and guitarist Will Stapleton would take his place as the Voice of Humanity. Two new characters were also introduced for the prologue, William (Michael Falzon) and Vera (Lily Osborne).

Both Wayne and Neeson were interviewed at the album's press conference where a clip of Neeson playing the journalist was shown. It was explained that Neeson would appear on stage as Journalist George Herbert in three ways: First as an 11-foot holographic head and shoulders (much like the Richard Burton image on the 2009 tour). Second, as a full body hologram, interacting with live performers on stage without actually being present during the show. And third: Neeson would appear in the 2-hour CGI film displayed on a 100-foot "animation wall" played throughout the show.

Jeff Wayne would conduct the ULLAdubULLA Strings and Black Smoke Band as he had done in the tours before.

In mid September, the cast for the new album was released casting Ricky Wilson as the Artilleryman, Joss Stone as Beth, Alex Clare as the voice of Humanity, Maverick Sabre as Parson Nathaniel, and Take That singer Gary Barlow as the Sung Thoughts of the Journalist, as well as Neeson as the voice of the Journalist. The release date for the New Generation album was set to be 12 November 2012 but moved to 26 November to coincide with the Arena tour.

In February 2016, the stage show opened at the Dominion Theatre in London's West End and ran until 30 April 2016.[3]

Track listingEdit

LP and tapeEdit

All dialogue written by Doreen and Jerry Wayne, based upon H.G. Wells's original text.

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Compact discEdit

Same as LP, reorganised as a double CD. Original CD release date 1985:

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Seven-disc box setEdit

Discs one and two of this set are hybrid SACDs and include a 5.1 channel mix; they are identical to the standalone 2-disc SACD edition.

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Disc Seven – Deconstructing The War of the Worlds (DVD Documentary)

This DVD accompanies Jeff Wayne in the memories of the intensive work while making the original album, featuring footage and an abundance of information about the participating crew and the workflow behind the album.

iTunes / SACD versionEdit

When bought through iTunes or on the 2005 5.1 channel SACD version, the track layout is slightly different:

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Year Chart Position
1978 Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart 1
Dutch Top 40 LP Top 50 1
UK Albums Chart (Official Chart Company)[10] 5
Canada - RPM Magazine LP Top 100 76

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit

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