Mike Batt unearths previously lost 50-year old prog rock suite

Mike Batt
(Image credit: Press)

Record producer, director and conductor musician and arranger Mike Batt has released a previously unheard prog rock suite he recorded in 1972 and that was never released or heard publicly and has lain, unheard, in a cupboard for 50 years! You can listen to the unearthed music below.

Variations On A Riff - Reflections On A War, described as an "ambitious 20 minute album side" of music and is Batt's own ruminations on the Vietnam War which was raging at the time.

The track features vocals are by Batt’s friend Tony Rees and the rhythm section of drummer Clem Cattini, guitarists Chris Spedding and Alan Parker, bassist Les Hurdle and percussionist Ray Cooper are the same musicians who, only two years later, would play on all the Wombles records.

“As far as I can remember this was a careful but essentially 'not final' mix to play to record companies," Batt recalls. "The rhythm and orchestra were recorded at Wessex Studio in Highbury, London, and Tony’s vocals added at Marquee Studio. I have borrowed just a couple of brief ideas from It over the years. 

"There’s an oboe solo and one line of lyrics ('I know I’m not a loser when I’m on my own') - that I re-recorded on my later solo album Schizophonia. I even stole a guitar riff from it for my new project Songs From Croix Noire with Ace Hansel Junior.  I’m glad finally to make it available, warts and all, to anyone who now would like to hear it”.

Batt will play a rare live show at London’s Bush Hall on November 15. The Bright Eyes And Beyond concert will see Batt performing songs and stories from his entire career, with both a string quintet and special guest Paula Masterton. Fans can expect to hear the likes of Bright Eyes, A Winter’s Tale, Railway Hotel, I Feel Like Buddy Holly, Nine Million Bicycles, The Closest Thing To Crazy. We reckon there's a good chance you might hear a couple of Wombles tunes too!

Get Variations On A Riff - Reflections On A War.

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC, Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.