Jeff Wayne's album The War Of The Worlds is perhaps one of the best known albums of all time and certainly one that's received some great reviews and praise over the years. It's already been reviewed in this blog so you're probably wondering why I'm talking about it again? Quite simply - it's a rerecording. As the title suggests, it's a modern take on an old classic. Well, when I say modern take, I mean production-wise, guest stars, things like that. It's still the story of martians invading from Mars then dying of the sniffles a couple of days later. One new addition is the story seems to have been padded out more with a few more details and narrations although to be honest, it's stuff that we've not really needed or missed during the last 34 years or so.
The music is top notch as always although curiously, instead of the prog/disco fusion from the 70's we now have a techno undercurrent. The classic score remains intact just with a techno bassline. Some bits work and some don't. The modern production certainly provides a bit more ear-candy and bells & whistles but to be honest, it's not as great a change as one would think. Other than money, there is no reason to rerecord this as chances are, younger fans will already have heard the older version. However, the biggest let-down (For me) is the voice-cast. Gary Barlow (Take That) sings the bits that Justin Hayward did on the original (The thoughts of The Journalist and "Forever Autumn") and - he's good. Not outstanding or anything, but good. Joss Stone (Soul singer) is Beth and Mavrick Sabre is Parson Nathaniel during "The Spirit Of Man" and it survives - barely. Stone's singing doesn't have an ounce of the emotion Julie Covington did in the original and Mavrick Sabre sounds more like his girlfriend has left him as opposed to someone whose sanity has gone (A role Phil Lynott played perfectly).
But they're not the worst - Liam Neeson is The Journalist/Narrator and although he's a great actor (Darkman never happened, neither did The Dead Pool), he just does not have the commanding voice that Richard Burton had. He (Liam Neeson) sounds more like he's reading a child's bedtime story rather than documenting the apocalypse. Last - and definately least - is Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs) who has taken over from David Essex as The Artileryman. He sounds far too happy for someone whose entire army unit was wiped out, although I guess this could be interpreted as a forerunner for when he gets ideas above his station ("Brave New World"). I know that this rerecording was essentially for the live show but in reality, it didn't need to be done. by all means, remaster the original but this should probably have been left alone.
5/10 - It could have been a bit better.
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