Sony Music Releases Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds in 5.1 SACD Surround Sound
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds was released earlier this week in 5.1 SACD Surround Sound by Sony Music's Columbia Records label in Europe.
The new Super Audio CD version of the recording is being made available in two editions - a 2 SACD Set packaged in a Digipak case with a 8 page booklet (Columbia Records UK DPCD 96000) and a "Definitive Version, Collectors Edition" which features the 2 SACD Set, 1 CD of the "best remixes" from 1979-2005, 3 CDs worth of rarities featuring "never heard before material" by Richard Burton, Phil Lynott, David Essex and Justin Hayward of Moody Blues fame, a DVD "making of War of the Worlds", a 12" x 12" hardback presentation book about the rock opera and an 80 page full color book (Columbia Records UK CECD96000).
A U.S. release of both editions of the War of the Worlds SACDs is forthcoming with these editions carrying Sony Music U.S. catalog numbers.
A Major Re-Release
Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds Rock Opera is one of the best selling albums of all time in the U.K. which explains its appearance initially in Europe. It features a host of stars - from the movie and music worlds - including narrator Richard Burton, one of the eras best known actors and musicans including Moody Blues vocalist Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, David Essex, Chris Thompson, Julie Covington and several singers from the U.K. cast of Godspell.
Comments from Sony's SACD Project Team in Europe
Jeff Wayne on the War of the Worlds SACD Surround Sound Release
"From the start, the production team made the distinct decision to let The War Of The Worlds be 'itself'. The original production and its ingredients had so many natural areas to be developed for surround sound that the team chose not to fill the mix with 'tricks' simply to show how clever they could be within this medium and perhaps it could wear thin quite quickly. Because The War Of The Worlds has just about every ingredient that could challenge the human ear - a 96 minute continuous musical score, narrative, sung performances and self-created sound effects, it allowed us to use surround sound in a way that works for the production naturally, and allows the listener to ‘lose’ oneself in this engulfing sound spectrum.
Gaëtan Schurrer was also able to use today’s technology to its full, including tightening up the tracks wherever possible but still retain the human feel of the live performance as originally recorded. Everything remains from the original. Neither on the stereo nor the 5.1 has any part been replaced or enhanced. But it is still a remarkable transition - even the stereo sounds punchier and more clear, and there are sounds today that one can distinctly hear that were only 'felt' in the original.
Before I started work on the 5.1 multi-channel version, I was sure it would ultimately add a dimension to The War Of The Worlds that stereo could never have. What I didn't anticipate was the sheer size and scale that the recording would 'open' up to. In hearing back the fully mastered Super Audio CD, the combination of the mastering and the Super Audio CD technology has given a width of sound that seems enhanced even more from what left my studio.
Given the choice I would never want to listen to, or make a recording in stereo again. Why would I want to when comparing these two formats? Used creatively surround sound gives a listening experience that can't compare with stereo. Stereo was in its way as mind blowingly expansive as when it took over from mono, just as today surround sound takes over from stereo. And while digital technology has enhanced the quality of sound, this 5.1 surround sound is something else, because it does just what it promises - it surrounds you. If the mass marketing of TV and sound systems continues to grow using 5.1 as the standard carrier of sound, stereo might disappear entirely or at best become limited to perhaps portable radios, and MP3 devices."
Album Tracks: 2 SACD Disc Set
Disc 1 - The Coming of the Martians
1. The Eve Of The War (Vocals: Justin Hayward)
2. Horsell Common And The Heat Ray
3. The Artilleryman And The Fighting Machine
4. Forever Autumn (Vocals: Justin Hayward)
5. Thunder Child (Vocals: Chris Thompson)
Disc 2 - The Earth Under the Martians
Super Audio CD Edition Credits
As noted above, the 5.1 Surround Sound remix was a major undertaking that was led by album creator Jeff Wayne. The restoration and 5.1 Surround Sound remix was engineered by producer and engineer Gary Langan (also known as a member of the group Art of Noise) with assistance from Gaetan Schrurrer. The SACD was mastered by Emily Lazaar assisted by Sarah Register at The Lodge in New York.
Sony's European SACD Team calls the new War of the Worlds Surround Sound SACD "one of the most stunning surround sound productions ever created". That's pretty high praise and in this case the soundscapes in the 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the new SACD edition lives up to it.
The album is a fascinating blend of narration, music, sound effects and vocals from some of the top rock vocalists of the 1970s. While the newly remixed edition is impressive in Super Audio CD Stereo, you really haven't heard the SACD until you play it back in 5.1 SACD Surround Sound.
In Multichannel, the music and narration form a kaleidoscopic surround field which makes the rock opera's story involving and quite compelling. On Disc 1, the tale starts out with actor Richard Burton's voice coming from slightly above the front channels with only slight ambient sound in the surrounds, giving it a commanding presence. Next, the band and sound effects begin surrounding the listener from all angles.
Interesting touches can be found on track 2 with panned space ship sound effects and track 3 where Richard Burton and David Essex trade key dialog in the Right and Left Surround Channels. Much of the story on track 4 (Forever Autumn) is told in song by Moody Blues lead singer Justin Hayward. Listeners will find similar delights and treats throughout the balance of Disc 1 and Disc 2.
I think fans of the rock opera genre and the War of the Worlds story (and soon movie) will find this new Surround Sound SACD edition a welcome addition to their music collection. It is very well done indeed, particularly for those who enjoy an adventurous and ambitious 5.1 Surround Sound mix.
Availability in Europe
# Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds [2 SACD Edition] (Columbia Records UK DPCD 96000)
# Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds - Definitive Version, Collectors Edition [2 SACD, 4 CD, 1 DVD Edition] (Columbia Records UK CECD96000)
U.S. Release expected on July 5th
While the European release of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds SACD editions occurred earlier this week, the U.S. release is being held to coincide with the Speilberg movie's release during the 4th of July weekend.
As noted above, the U.S. editions will carry separate catalog numbers featuring the familiar "CH" prefix used by Sony Music in the U.S. to denote Hybrid Super Audio CD releases from their Columbia Records/Legacy label. The Sony Music Store on the Sony Music web site as well as Amazon.Com and CD Universe are now accepting pre-orders for the two SACD sets. I suspect other U.S. web stores that carry Super Audio CDs will begin doing so shortly as well.
# Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds [2 SACD Edition] (Columbia Records/Legacy 1C2H94434)
# Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds - Definitive Version, Collectors Edition [2 SACD, 4 CD, 1 DVD Edition] (Columbia Records/Legacy 1C7H94427)
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds - 2 SACD Surround Sound Edition (Columbia Records U.K. DPCD 96000)
See also: the 1995 deluxe 2-CD re-issue!!!
featuring some bonus re-mixes on disk 2.
the Special ULLAdubULLA remixes 2 CD set
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