The album was originally released in 1978, and has become as popular in its own right as the original novel. The CD version of the album was released in October 25, 1990.
To promote its release, an abridged version featuring "radio edits" was distributed to radio stations. However, because the songs weren't written with radio in mind, special intros and endings had to be added. This "air play" album turned out so well that CBS decided to release it commercially in 1981 as Highlights from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.
In 1984 CRL Group PLC released the computer game Jeff Wayne's Video Game Version of The War of the Worlds for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer. In 1998, another computer game was released entitled Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds, created by Rage Software. Jeff Wayne produced musical arrangements for the game, which consist of 45 minutes of material remixed and re-scored in a newer electronica style with techno beats. The artwork for the game was based on the illustrations that accompanied the original album. Some of Burton's dialogue as the Journalist is also used in the opening scenes.
The album has had two remix collections. One was a double-disc released in 2000 named The War of the Worlds: ULLAdubULLA The Remix Album. Following the success of the 2005 re-release of the original a follow-up, ULLAdubULLA II, was released on April 17, 2006.
In late 2004, production had been commissioned for an animated CGI film version set for a 2007 release, although as of 2008, the film is still in its production stages. Test footage of some of the Martian machines has been released to the website War of the Worlds online.
On June 23, 2005 the original album was re-released in two forms. One was a more simple remastered 2-disc Hybrid Multichannel Super Audio CD set. The other is a 7-disc Collector's Edition featuring various remixes, outtakes, and the actors reading from the unabridged script; a seventh disc is a DVD showing the making of the album, produced by Phoenix Film & Television Productions.
A live tour took place in the U.K. and Ireland in April 2006. It featured a performance of Richard Burton as the Journalist, which was a projected image of a picture of a young Burton with a super-imposed actor's mouth and jaw lip synched to the original recordings. Justin Hayward reprised his original role as The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist and Chris Thompson returned as The Voice Of Humanity. Also from the original recording were Chris Spedding playing lead guitar and Herbie Flowers playing bass guitar. Other guest artists who appeared were Alexis James as the Artilleryman, Russell Watson as Parson Nathaniel and Tara Blaise as Beth. Daniel Boys is understudy for all the roles, sung by man. A model fighting-machine featured on stage. Also presented was a short animated "prequel" to the story in the style of the upcoming feature-length film detailing the Martians' ecological destruction of their own world and their preparations to invade Earth, and including a short remix of "The Red Weed". The show was produced by Damian Collier and Jeff Wayne, who also conducted the 48-piece ULLAdubULLA Strings and 10-piece Black Smoke Band. A 2-disc DVD special edition of the 2006 Wembley Arena, London show was released November 6, 2006 by Universal. Disc 1 contains the live show and Disc 2 contains extras and a documentary of the making of the live show. It is titled Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of The Worlds - Live on Stage.
The live show toured Australia and New Zealand in 2007, with dates in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane & Auckland. The Australian tour featured Australian Idol runner-up Shannon Noll as Parson Nathaniel, actress Rachael Beck as Beth and Michael Falzon as the Artilleryman, alongside Justin Hayward and Chris Thompson from the original cast. A further U.K. live tour took place in December 2007 with Justin Hayward, Chris Thompson, Alexis James, John Payne as Parson, and Sinéad Quinn as Beth.
2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the original album release, and a number of events will be taking place, including a "30th Anniversary" UK tour, which starts on 2009-06-10 in Aberdeen. Jeff Wayne says that he and the show's producer, Damian Collier will be attempting to "make it the most exciting production yet."
The arrangement of the tracks differ depending on the format. They are as follows:
- "The Eve of the War" – 9:06
- "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray" – 11:36
- "The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine" – 10:36
- "Forever Autumn" – 7:43 (Wayne, Vigrass, Osborne)
- "Thunder Child" – 6:10 (Wayne, Osborne)
- "The Red Weed (Part 1)" – 5:55
- "Parson Nathaniel" – 1:55
- "The Spirit of Man" – 9:46 (Wayne, Osborne)
- "The Red Weed (Part 2)" – 6:51
- "Brave New World" – 12:13 (Wayne, Osborne)
- "Dead London" – 8:37
- "Epilogue (Part 1)" – 2:42
- "Epilogue (Part 2) (NASA)" – 2:02
- "The Eve of the War" – 9:07 (Wayne)
- "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray" – 11:35 (Wayne)
- "The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine" – 10:27 (Wayne)
- "Forever Autumn" – 7:55 (Wayne, Vigrass, Osborne)
- "Thunder Child" – 6:03 (Wayne, Osborne)
- "The Red Weed (Part 1)" – 5:51
- "The Spirit of Man" – 11:45 (Wayne, Osborne)
- "The Red Weed (Part 2)" – 6:19
- "Brave New World" – 12:36 (Wayne, Osborne)
- "Dead London" – 8:36
- "Epilogue (Part 1)" – 2:42
- "Epilogue (Part 2) (NASA)" – 2:01
Disc 1 Edit
- The Eve of the War - 9:09
- Horsell Common and the Heat Ray - 11:35
- The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine - 10:36
- Forever Autumn - 7:41
- Thunder Child - 6:16
Disc 2 Edit
- The Red Weed (Part 1) - 5:55
- The Spirit of Man - 11:37 (tracks "Parson Nathaniel" and "The Spirit of Man" are combined)
- The Red Weed (Part 2) - 5:24
- The Artilleryman Returns - 1:27 (on physical CD, this is a part of "The Red Weed (Part 2)")
- Brave New World - 12:14
- Dead London - 8:35
- Epilogue (Part 1) - 2:30
- Epilogue (Part 2) (NASA) - 1:50
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