This was Jeff Wayne's magnificent rock musical version of H.G.Wells's seminal sci-fi novel, depicting the invasion of Earth by warrior squadrons from Mars as experienced through the eyes of a London journalist.
The 20th Century saw many versions of Wells's Victorian masterpiece, including movies, graphic novels and the notorious Orson Welles radio play which sparked panic in pre-War America. However, music producer Jeff Wayne took the concept one step further, with the release in 1978 of his famous rock double album, featuring an all-star cast and some remarkable sound-effects.
Surrey, Summer 1893: unusual signs of activity have been noticed by observatories on the surface of Mars for some time. Despite assurances by Astronomer Royal Professor Ogilvy that 'the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one', a huge glowing metal cylinder soon crashes through the atmosphere and lands on Horsell Common. More such spacecraft follow, and England finds itself faced with a hostile invasion by a Martian armoured brigade, who stride around the countryside in colossal three-legged war machines indiscriminately massacring the population with a 'heat ray', a cross between a laser cannon and a flamethrower that wreaks destruction on a massive scale. The armed forces are barely able to match the might of the invader's war machines; but the Martians have reckoned without a crucial factor that in the end proves to be their downfall- Earthly bacteria.....
Richard Burton took the role of The Narrator, with David Essex as the idealistic artilleryman and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott as deranged Parson Nathaniel, driven mad by the horrors he has witnessed. Julie Covington is his long-suffering wife Beth. The album features some amazing artwork by Geoff Taylor and Peter Goodfellow, and includes Justin Hayward's classic 'Forever Autumn' which charted in the Summer of '78. The creepy synthesiser track 'The Red Weed' is still the scariest piece of music I've ever heard.
This milestone album spawned a stage production, a computer game, and an animated film which still hasn't been fully released yet!