I’ve been a big fan of musician/producer/Svengali, Mike Batt, ever since I stumbled across a couple of his albums in the quarter bin at Budget Tapes & Records on Capital Street about 30 years ago. Budget would always have extra promo copies of brand-new albums that they’d sell for cheap, knowing that people like me would gamble on them, and then spread the word on how good the music was.
Picking up Batt’s music is one of the best gambles I made. He made a fan for life with his “Zero Zero” and “Six Days In Berlin” albums. The music was a blend of beautifully-orchestrated neo-classical music with New Wave overtones and unconventional instrumentation. Since then I’ve discovered Batt to be a skilled and versatile master songwriter, and more recently as the man behind Dramatico Records.
Mike Batt has not been terribly visible in the United States. In the UK he’s been pretty mainstream for a very long time, but over here he’s primarily known as the writer of “Bright Eyes,” a hit for Art Garfunkel, and as a producer/arranger for the likes of Katie Melua, The Planets and Vanessa Mae.
For the last few years, Batt has been re-releasing his long-0ut-of-print solo catalog in the UK. These are very affordably packaged as two-fers, either with two complete CDs, or in the case of “Zero Zero” and “The Hunting Of The Snark,” a CD/DVD combo.”Snark,” based on the Lewis Carroll poem, is notable because of the guest-artists, Roger Daltry, Julian Lennon, Deniece Williams, Captain Sensible, John Hurt, Midge Ure, and on the CD, George Harrison on guitar and Stephane Grappelli on violin.
What you see above is a preview clip for the star-studded production of “The Hunting Of The Snark.” I’m hoping that his label, Dramatico, will start releasing these works in the United States, because I’d like to be able to get NTSC copies of the DVDs, instead of springing for the imports and then going through the trouble of ripping them, converting them, and then burning copies I can watch on my TVs.
Below you will find several more clips of Mike Batt, and some other artists for whom he has written or produced songs.
From the futuristic musical ballet, “Zero Zero,” produced in Australia and starring Mike Batt himself as “Number 17″…
A self-directed 1976 clip from back when Batt was making the transition from being the musical director for The Wombles to a career as a serious solo artists.
The Wombles were kid’s characters who practiced recycling and cleaned up litter around Wimbledon in the 1970s. They managed to have several hit records in the UK, thanks to Batt.
“Bright Eyes,” sung by Art Garfunkle, from the movie “Watership Down,” was Batt’s first international hit.
“The Planets” is the hugely-successful classical-crossover group, managed and produced by Mike Batt, who record for his label, Dramatico. Here’s their “Club Mix” of Rodrigo.
Katie Melua is Batt’s most-recent international success. After being discovered by Batt, Melua reached millions of fans all over the world. Here she is performing one of Batt’s songs, “The Closest Thing To Crazy,” with Mike Batt himself accompanying on piano.
While still advising her career, Batt has stepped away from the producer’s chair for Katie Melua’s 4th album. This is the William Orbit-produced “Flood.”
We wrap up by going back to “The Hunting Of The Snark,” as Billy Connelly sings the title track.