The late 60â€™s and 70â€™s ushered in a brief yet enduring music style, the rock opera. The concept was to create a cohesive musical story. For some reason the genre with a few exceptions seemed to mainly live in the world of Prog Rock. Maybe the best known Rock Opera is â€˜Tommyâ€™ by The Who, but in my mind there are many better.
In 1978 musician Jeff Wayne took on the colossal task of converting the classic H.G. Wells story to music. The resulting double album War Of The Worlds is an absolute delight.
What sets this almost 100 minute adventure apart from other Rock Operas, were the people that Jeff Wayne recruited to participate and the way that he linked the music together.
Most Rock Operas relied solely on the music to advance the story. Jeff Wayne decided to add a narrator to off short commentary from the H.G. Wells story. The narrator was none other than the great actor Sir Richard Burton (yes the one married to Elizabeth Taylor). This added a layer of â€˜credibilityâ€™ and his voice delivery of so convincing that you just have to keep listening.
For female vocal lead he acquired Julie Covington who two years previous had a #1 hit with Andrew Lloyd Webbers Donâ€™t Cry For Me Argentina anthem from the musical Evita.
Also from the Evita world was David Essex.
Jeff Wayne also added an A-list of musicians to the mix. Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), Chris Thompson (his resume decimates the rain forests of the world), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy, Whiskey In the jar, Boys Are Back In Town).
This merely scratches the surface.
Even if you don’t have the staying power for all 100 minutes, there are two songs that are outstanding.
Forever Autumn – Justin Hayward
The Spirit Of Man