Next up in The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is a new career-spanning collection of songs by Mike Batt. It’s the perfect gift for any fan of brilliant pop-rock with a strong orchestral backing, and it’s also manna from heaven for the rare US fans of the 1970s litter-fighting critters, The

Mike Batt: The Penultimate Collection

Longtime readers of PopCult may remember that I am a huge fan of Mike Batt, and last year even recommended a fun storybook that he wrote. This year the focus is on his music, with a collection of songs from all of his vast career as a songwriter/singer/producer/arranger and Womble.

This two CD collection from the British singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, record producer, director, conductor and former Deputy Chairman of the British Phonographic Industry features 34 tracks spanning his career plus two new recordings.

Having achieved substantial international success as a solo artist he is particularly known in the UK for creating The Wombles pop act, writing many hits including the chart-topping “Bright Eyes”, and discovering Katie Melua. He has also conducted many of the world’s great orchestras, including the London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony and Stuttgart Philharmonic in both classical and pop recordings and performances.

Along the way he’s worked with a few notable musicians, like George Harrison, Art Garfunkel, Julian Lennon, Jon Anderson, Steve Harley, Stephane Grapelli and many others. Batt’s solo work is marked by brilliant orchestrations and a strong pop sensiblity, but with progressive ideas and daring musical combinations.

Batt’s latest album issue, – an in-depth, 36 track collection of his own versions of hits written by him for other artists (Art Garfunkel, David Essex, Barbara Dickson etc) and international hits from his own solo albums.

Disc 2 of the set emphasises some tracks that would never have been singles by virtue of their non-mainstream character, and some earlier items such as his highly original 1971 single cover of the Beatles “Your Mother Should Know.”

There are three Wombles tracks on the album, the first time Batt has included Wombles tracks on a compilation of his solo work. There are two brand-new recordings on the tracklist, “Nine Million Bicycles” and “It’s Only Pain “ – both of which were written for Katie Melua but which he has never recorded himself until now.

You can order the CD or buy the download of Mike Batt: The Penultimate Collection from Amazon, or if you want to be all fancy and special about it, order a signed copy directly from Mike Batt’s website (be sure to order early so that it can make it here from the UK in time for Christmas).