Freddie Matthews writes from London: Pop stars Gary Barlow, Joss Stone, Maverick Sabre, Alex Clare and Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson, all household names, are to feature on a revamped version of the War of the Worlds’ classic musical album originally written by Jeff Wayne.
Please don’t think that this has anything to do with that awful Tom Cruise’s War Of The Worlds’ film. It somehow grossed almost $600 million back in 2005. I think that was really because it was directed by the force that is Steven Spielberg. It had certainly nothing to do with the appalling acting or was it possibly down to the charismatic narration of Morgan Freeman?
Maybe I hated the most recent film because I’m such a huge fan of Jeff Wayne’s version of the original novel by H.G. Wells. I’m talking about the Jeff Wayne and his late 70s spectacular. Now in 2012 it’s going to be even better than the original apparently. Barlow is singing the role of The Sung Thoughts of The Journalist – performing two of the hit production’s most famous songs, ‘Forever Autumn’ and The Eve Of The War’. You may remember the original soundtrack version was sung by Justin Hayward. It was a wonderfully sensitive vocal. However, Barlow is just for the recording and subsequent radio single as Ricky Wilson (from the band The Kaiser Chiefs) is to appear in the stage version of the show in place of Barlow. Just the name Gary Barlow alone generates much of the publicity for the revamped show and Wilson is the man playing the part on the War of The Worlds’ actual nationwide tour itself.
The Journalist is to be played by Liam Neeson (originally Richard Burton in what became a legendary performance); Maverick Sabre will play Parson Nathaniel (originally played by Phil Lynott); Joss Stone is Beth Nathaniel; Ricky Wilson is The Artilleryman and The Voice of Humanity is Alex Clare. If you’re not so ‘in the know’ Alex Clare is probably the least familiar of the list. Alex had a big club hit a few months ago with Too Close but that’s about it really.
The album will be released in November, digitally and on double vinyl, (really… on vinyl??). The UK stage tour begins in December. The Gary Barlow single release of ‘Forever Autumn’ is already going to radio in the UK with stations already play listing it. This is in part thanks to Barlow’s Take That success but more than anything his current relevance due to his X Factor 2012 presence, on the TV every weekend, from now until Christmas.
Why shouldn’t it be revisited for a whole new generation? The long-running musical was first recorded by composer Jeff Wayne in 1978 and spent more than 330 weeks in the charts. It reached number one in 11 countries and sold more than 15 million copies. It’s a true music masterpiece and this re-make can only affirm its success into the teenies and for the next 30 years. It will not only attract the original fans but also bring in a whole new generation in the process.
War of The Worlds, originally a novel by H.G. Wells, was written between 1895 and 1897. It’s one of the earliest novels that details a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. Jeff Wayne, originally an advertising jingle producer, got his teeth into the War of The Worlds’ musical in 1978. It has subsequently become the 38th best selling UK album of all time. What you didn’t know was that most of the lyrics on the album were written by former Elton John lyricist Gary Osbourne. It was engineered by Jeff Young who later went on to work with George Michael. Jeff helped him record Careless Whisper and Last Christmas.
The Jeff Wayne production went on to win two Ivor Novello awards for Best Recording and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy.