Top UK writer Mike Batt releases Hunting of the Snark in U.S.

By on April 6, 2011

To mark the 25th year of its existence without ever having had a full
release, singer, songwriter, composer and musician, Mike Batt is finally
to give a long-overdue U.S. release this July via Dramatico Records to his
album ‘The Hunting of The Snark’, previously only available as part of his
U.K.-only Archive Series box set. Please let me know if you’d like a
review copy.

Batt’s love affair with Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem ‘The Hunting of The
Snark’ began in the early 80s. “It struck me immediately as the perfect
material on which to base a musical piece.” He had, incidentally, recently
returned from a long sea voyage of his own. An invitation to conduct the
London Symphony Orchestra hastened the creative process and led to the
entire piece being written in three months.

Mike Batt is one of Britain’s best-known songwriter/composers. His
consistent track record of success includes production, composition and
conducting on projects as diverse as ‘Watership Down’ (music and lyrics to
Art Garfunkel’s international number one single, ‘Bright Eyes’), ‘Phantom
of The Opera’ (producing, orchestrating and contributing lyrics to the
first hit) and a great deal of symphonic work, including many television
and film scores. He has won five Ivor Novello Awards including ‘Best Film
Song or Music’ two years in succession, once with ‘Watership Down’ and
once with ‘Caravans’ the epic adaptation of Michener’s novel, starring
Anthony Quinn.

He has conducted many of the world’s great orchestras including the London
Symphony, The London Philharmonic, The Royal Philharmonic, The Sydney
Symphony Orchestra, the State Orchestra of Victoria and The National
Symphony Orchestra Of Ireland.

He began his career in popular music at the age of eighteen, as a signed
artist with and subsequently Head of A&R for Liberty/United Artists
Records. Leaving to form his own music publishing company two years later,
and simultaneously working as a recording artist. His first hits as a
singer/songwriter/producer were by The Wombles, in 1974.

In creating “The Hunting of The Snark” he kept Carroll’s original verse as
a narrative framework, Batt added lyrics and music and, when the time came
to record the album, he put together a starry cast of performers to play
each of the parts – the Barrister, the Butcher, the Baker, the Bellman,
the Billiard Maker, the Beaver and the two narrators. Art Garfunkel, Roger
Daltrey, George Harrison, Captain Sensible, Stephane Grappelli, Deniece
Williams, Julian Lennon and Sir Cliff Richard all appear on ‘The Hunting
of The Snark’ with narration from Sir John Gielgud and John Hurt. Notably,
the album features ‘The Snooker Song’, which was sung by Captain Sensible
and went on to become the theme tune of popular TV show ‘Big Break’.

Yet the story doesn’t end with the album. Having seen the poem’s rich
potential for adaptation, Batt had always considered a theatrical version
of ‘The Hunting of The Snark’. So, in 1987, a costumed performance was
staged at The Royal Albert Hall. Batt both conducted the London Symphony
Orchestra and sang, while another full-star cast was assembled. Many of
the album’s performers returned, although Billy Connolly enthusiastically
stepped in to Sir Cliff’s shoes to play the Bellman. Hurt was the sole
narrator on the evening, while Justin Hayward replaced Garfunkel as the
Butcher, one of whose songs ‘As Long As The Moon Can Shine’ he later
re-recorded for his own solo album ‘Classic Blue’. With Midge Ure on hand
to play guitar, this live performance was a truly star-studded affair.

Hampered by record label wrangling on its first pressing in 1985 (which
led to the aborted release), ‘The Hunting of The Snark’ showcases Mike
Batt’s consummate skill in crafting and scoring dramatic pieces. Batt has
written new sleeve notes for this release looking back on and assessing
the record with trademark frankness and even hints at a theatrical revival
for the eventual full length West End musical version that followed this
shorter earlier concert piece.


Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.