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, released 6 September 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, and by 2009 it was the 40th best selling album of all time in the UK with sales of 2,561,286. It has since spawned multiple versions of the album, video games, DVDs, and live tours.
Differences from Wells' novel
- "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 – spoken words (The Journalist: the narrator-protagonist)
- Justin Hayward – vocals (The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist)
- David Essex – spoken words and vocals (The Artilleryman)
- Chris Thompson – vocals (The Voice of Humanity)
- Phil Lynott – spoken words and vocals (Parson Nathaniel)
- Julie Covington – spoken words and vocals (Beth)
- Jerry Wayne – spoken words (The Voice of NASA)