When I was ten years old, I received a few self recorded tapes from Nana with a musical version of The War of the Worlds by Jeff Wayne. She had recorded it from her Vinyl’s for me. She knew I loved to snuggle into my bulk-bed at night and dream of space, the stars and the universe. Travelling through worlds of thoughts and music, colours and emotions in my mind. Different times and spaces, all at once. Where the answer becomes a question and then an answer again…
I listened to it on this old cassette player with one little earplug, and after hearing Richard Burton’s voice I was captivated, gobsmacked, shocked. It was as if someone had put a melody to my dreams and nightmares. How could he know? It crawled under my skin and it was there to stay forever. Unchanged an idolised.
Forever Autumn/Thunder Child (to me one song with a pause) became my Anthem after Danny’s death and to this day musically symbolises who I am. How I think and feel. The soundtrack to my life. These two songs have so many layers, different tunes, rhythms and sounds, melodies, story lines, narrative sequences all happening at the same time, in the same place. At first they seem to interfere with each other disturbing the harmony, stepping on each others toes, (to many notes, Mozart) but when You listen to it with an open mind, and let yourself be swept away by that rising stomping driving background rhythm uniting them, it starts making sense, they become ONE beautifully versatile and challenging entity. That’s me! Including my ADHD/OCD, in music. You need not know more to understand me, methinks… Nothing less. Nothing more.
I then successively bought the vinyl albums, the CDs, the iTunes download and even a German version with Curt Jürgens on vinyl. Always searching for the better sound. But the scratches and back noises of those, now lost, tapes where never to be outdone.
It all seemed so typically 1970s, how could You possibly transfer those rhythms, harmonies, voices to the 21.Century without sounding terribly outdated? Like a seventy year old woman squeezing herself into her teenage years pants, will not be looking sexy, but desperately sad.
Then I heard they were indeed going to be doing it again… the War of the Worlds, the next Generation (!) Really? NCC WOTW-A? Will Weaton as Nathaniel? The boldly go where no bacteria has gone before? Hm… Not really! And stepping in Richard Burton’s shoes, Liam Neeson? WOW braver than I thought! But surely even to big for that fabulous artist. So I thought…
It is only after seeing what Gary Barlow did out of the Queen’s Jubilee 2012 (Ace!) I knew I had to give this another shot and give the guy a fair chance. So, I bought the download on iTunes. And have listened to it 3 times since.
And You know what? It works! It really works!
Liam Neeson is respectful to the part but makes it his own! His voice is genuine, warm, clear and not as overly dramatic as Burton’s was. Barlow as his singing voice is excellent, never trying to push himself to the fore. Maverick Sabre is splendid! 1+!
The overall feel is still as deep as the 70 version. But with a 21.Century touch. The slightly dusty arrangements sound fresh and hip. The synthesiser sequences are more ELO than Bontempi Organ and that makes it so smooth to listen to…
But my biggest surprise was Joss Stone. She is a revelation in this one! Guys, honestly the “Spirit of man” has not ever been intoned with that utmost perfection and gut-wrenching feeling before.
To all those who know the old Version, I can honestly recommend it as a respectful and entertaining update. Of course it will never “dock” to the same receptors as the old one, You’ve heard 30 years ago, but we all know nothing ever will anyway. Right?! So, give it a burl.
To those new to it? GO GRAB IT!!!!!!!
So, my conclusion is: Yes, the world needed new version of war of the worlds! Thanks guys.