Mike Batt, the British singer-songwriter responsible for, amongst many other projects, the iconic theme tune to beloved '70s UK kids' show The Wombles, has taken a distinctly uncuddly line on the possibility of any Beatles-style refreshes of his original recordings.
The novelty band produced four albums and multiple bonafide UK hit singles in the '70s, including Remember You're a Womble and Wombling Free. It's a legacy Batt is keen to preserve.
“I’ve destroyed many of the original multi-track tapes for The Wombles and my solo albums so people can’t f*** around with them after I’m gone,” he said.
Speaking to inews (paywall), Batt said, “I mixed them as I wanted them, not how some corporation or great-grandchild might like to remix them when I’m not around.”
“The Wombles aren’t the Beatles. I might look back and say I could’ve done with a clearer bass guitar on that track or I could’ve mixed it differently. But if I wanted to go back and change it I would.
“They are a faithful representation of what I offered to the world in 1974 and 1975.”
“Do you think the Eagles would want Hotel California remixed when they’re dead and gone? What’s wrong with it as it is?
Batt admits his actions are contrary to the show's pioneering recycling ethos. It's “not very Womble-y," he says. "Perhaps I should have just taped over them. I went down to the tape store and ordered a skip. I went through the tapes and threw them in the skip. Then they got taken away for landfill.”
But Batt is adamant he's not critical of the reworking of another lovable four-piece's catalogue.
“It’s fascinating to hear The Beatles’ music being forensically taken apart to show the world how they made it.
“In their case, it’s done with the surviving members’ endorsement. I don’t flatter myself that the Wombles will be considered worthy of that analysis in hundreds of years.”
“I am denying future generations who might want to go back to the multi-tracks and find out how Mike Batt got his string sound."
Perhaps not coincidentally, the original Wombles’ albums will be re-released as a 4-CD package at Christmas.
“The Wombles pop group were my little furry version of The Beatles dressed up in silly costumes which my mother made. It was always me playing Orinoco.”
Meanwhile, Giles Martin, son of original Beatles producer George, is continuing his forensic remixing of the band's back catalogue.
Next off the rank is Revolver, dissected with the aid of AI audio tech, originally developed for the Get Back project, that flawlessly separates multiple instruments originally recorded onto one tape, turning the original four-track recordings into 9- or 10-track masters to produce an all-new stereo mix.
The results will be available as part of a lavish Revolver 2022 re-issue also featuring a new mono mix from the original masters, plus unheard outtakes and rehearsals, on 28 October.
Fully cognisant of some fans' instinctive reservations, Martin recently told Variety, "I love the fact that there are forums going, “I’m never gonna listen to anything Giles Martin does.” It just means they’re just passionate about stuff. I have no issue at all. I think it’s great. They’re the ones listening to the stuff.
"It’s all the people that aren’t listening to the albums that I want to get to."