Mike Batt: The Penultimate Collection

Mike Batt’s long and varied career is celebrated on his new Penultimate Collection double album, with 35 tracks highlighting his work as performer, composer, arranger and key British musical figure – but especially as performer.

Not only does it feature Batt’s original solo material – including his international solo hits – but also his own versions of songs he wrote for other artists. The Closest Thing To Crazy, Bright Eyes, A Winter’s Tale, Caravan Song and I Feel Like Buddy Holly are given Mike’s own distinctive treatment, alongside his orchestral works, and contributions from Colin Blunstone, Bonnie Tyler and Family’s Roger Chapman.

Mike Batt – The Penultimate Collection features his work from the classic feelgood pop of Summertime City, his number four hit from 1975, through his hugely successful Wombles hits and orchestral pieces, to two brand new recordings.

While Disc 1 of this double CD package houses the familiar hits, Disc 2 is an eclectic collection of more boundary-breaking tracks including early singles, oddball instrumentals and compositions that give an insight into the imagination and adventurous spirit of his work.

Summertime City, theme to the BBC’s variety show Seaside Special, has only been released once since it was a hit. Says Mike: “For many years, despite its success I looked back on it with embarrassment but now I am proud of it as a good, strong pop record. I insisted that Sony ‘delete it forever’ and the rights to the song reverted to me. So this is the first time (apart from the Mike Batt Music Cube) that it has been released since 1975.”

There’s also an early pre-Womble solo single, Your Mother Should Know, recorded when he was just a teenager. “It’s 19-year-old me doing a cover of this great little Beatle song using a Vivaldi-style string approach. The lead fiddle player is Jack Rothstein, and we recorded it at Wessex Studios in London. This very nearly became a hit, getting played extensively on Radio 1.”

And of course, there are numbers by The Wombles, too. “Some may say The Wombling Song needs no introduction, but it has one, courtesy of four unison French horns. It was my first-ever hit. This is of course the main theme to the Wombles TV show, and was the first of about 50 songs about the famous eco-warriors. I count the Wombles tracks as ‘Mike Batt’ tracks because they are indeed just me singing with a session orchestra; usually with Chris Spedding on guitar and Clem Cattini on drums.”