Mike Batt has done a little bit of everything. He is perhaps most well know as the mastermind behind the Wombles phenomenon. Having written the theme for the TV series, he saw the opportunity to exploit its success. A single was released of this theme "Underground, Overground", which was performed and promoted by a pop group of players dressed up as the furry beasts. The resulting hit success led to further singles and song albums, and many concert and public appearances. In addition to the main theme of the television series, most people of the right generation will remember "Remember you're a Womble" and especially "Minuetto Allegretto" which was based on the Minuet from Mozart's 41st "Jupiter" Symphony, but a number of other songs reached the charts in the UK.
As a song writer, Mike Batt has composed songs for a number of well-known singers (such as Madonna) and has released several albums of his own music. Vanessa Mae's first album "The Violin Player" is full of tracks by Batt - a fusion of classical, pop, jazz and world, and including an arrangement of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dm. He has also had some involvment in film music. He composed the songs and music for the animated film "Watership Down" based on the Richard Adams novel about a group of rabbits. The major musical success from this film was the theme song "Bright Eyes" sung by Art Garfunkel. Mike Batt has scored a handful of other films including "Caravans", "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" and "Faintheart", and the musical "The Hunting of the Snark" based on the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem which Batt also produced.
Though still composing, arranging and conducting, these days Mike Batt is also well known as a producer. He recognised the talents of the young Katie Melua and has propelled her to stardom through the release of the album "Call off the Search" which includes her hit song "Closest Thing to Crazy". This album can be found at these links: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Through his continued association with Katie Melua, Mike Batt played a key role on the Miss Potter soundtrack, turning the "music box song" into the song sung by Katie during the End Credits.
Recently he was the subject of potential litigation after the release of a CD with a 1 minute's silence. Lawyers reprenting John Cage claimed that this was a breach of copyright in respect of Cage's work 4'33'' which consists of silence of that duration. It has been reported that the issue was settled out of court when Batt paid a "6 figure sum" to charity. This must all seem a bit ridiculous to ordinary people, and possibly no more than a publicity stunt (or two). One wonders why Batt's lawyers didn't lodge a defense that the works "1 minute silence" and "2 minute silence" are traditional works that have been performed for centuries as a mark of remembrance for the dead. That view would mean that the work was public domain and anyone was entitled to release "arrangements" of this work. Perhaps Cage's lawyers would expect us all to pay royalties every time we are silent for a while!
The soundtrack to "Watership Down" is well worth a listen but sometimes hard to find. These Amazon links to music from the TV series may help: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. CDs with Wombles music are also quite hard to find at the moment and more often than not they will be out of stock, but a little online searching will help with that nostalgia - try these links which may sometimes show items in stock: The Wombles Collection and The Best Wombles Album So Far both at www.amazon.com. The Vanessa-Mae album with the Mike Batt arrangements can be found at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.