Wombles campaign for Christmas No 1

Uncle Bulgaria and Orinoco by the Christmas treeMike Batt has confirmed that the original Wombles albums will be re-released in December. In response to a question from a Twitter user, he tweeted on 3 October: “All 5 albums out on CD and download 6th DEC.”

This follows Mike Batt’s earlier announcement back in May, and means the four original Wombles albums will be available in full on CD for the first time.

Previous CD releases have been compilations, which tended to leave out many of the early tracks from the Wombling Songs LP. Mike Batt discussed this when I interviewed him ten years ago, at the launch of The Wombles Collection.

The fifth album will be the Wombling Free film soundtrack. Mike Batt says there will be no bonus tracks, because they’re replicas of the original albums.

Update: Sadly, the album releases have now been postponed until 2011. Mike Batt said on 22 October: “Sorry to disappoint but Womble releases this year have been pulled. It’s a long story. Next year we’ll release them, promise.” He added on 24 October: “We ‘pulled’ all Wombling this year as we are in negotiation for some old background rights, and too much else on, but WILL be back next year.”

Facebook campaign

Meanwhile, who else but Haydon the Womble and his friend Dean Parsons have launched a Facebook campaign to get Wombling Merry Christmas to number one. The aim is to stop this year’s X Factor winner from being Christmas number one, following last year’s successful Rage Against The Machine campaign.

The Facebook group was set up in response to several suggestions on Twitter in the past few months, including Mike Batt’s own challenge: “Just let’s get this straight – If the PUBLIC want the Wombles back (the W Factor for Christmas ) – start up own facebook. We’re listening!”

Interestingly, there’s also an attempt to get John Cage’s 4’33” to Christmas number one – four and a half minutes of silence – in a campaign named Cage Against the Machine. In 2002, Mike Batt was in a bizarre copyright dispute with John Cage’s publisher over his track A Minute’s Silence, which he credited as being written by ‘Batt/Cage’. Mike Batt eventually paid a six-figure sum to settle out of court, “making this gesture of a payment to the John Cage Trust in recognition of my personal respect for John Cage”.

Update: The Wombling Merry Christmas campaign has also been shifted to next year. Dean said: “Mike Batt has informed me that due to a couple of details this year is not an option, but it should all be sorted in the spring so I am starting the campaign for 2011. If we get ahead of the rest we really can make it happen in 2011.”