The Wombles (band)

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The Wombles
Origin Wimbledon Common, London, England
Genres Novelty Pop
Years active 1973-Present
Labels CBS Records
Members Mike Batt
Chris Spedding
Simon Chandler-Honnor
Clem Cattini
Ray Cooper
Rex Morris
Eddie Mordue
Jack Rothstein

The Wombles are a British novelty pop group, featuring musicians dressed as the characters from children's TV show The Wombles, which in turn was based on the children's book series by Elisabeth Beresford. Songwriter and record producer, Mike Batt, wrote the series' theme tune, and went on to perform and produce a number of successful albums and singles as 'The Wombles'. British Hit Singles & Albums jokingly referred to them as the "furriest (and possibly the tidiest) act... are natives of Wimbledon Common, London". In 2011, the band played at The Glastonbury Festival.

History[edit]

Filmfair acquired the television rights to The Wombles and commissioned Batt to write the theme song. He waived the flat fee for writing a single song, and secured the character rights for musical production to write songs under the name 'The Wombles'.[1] To help him get into character, Batt's mother made him a Womble suit, which he wore for a week prior to writing the first songs.[2]

The band released several albums and singles. All four studio albums went gold[citation needed] and four of the singles reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.[3] The Wombles were the most successful act of 1974, with albums in the UK charts for more weeks than any other act.[4]

A single called "Wombling U.S.A.", written to break into the American market, was recorded in 1974 but was not released.[5]

Several of the songs were included in the soundtrack of the 1977 film, Wombling Free.

Live performances[edit]

In January 1974, Mike Batt appeared on an edition of Cilla Black's television series as Orinoco, having been led onstage by guest Bernard Cribbins, to plug "The Wombling Song". Consequently, when the single charted, the "band" was invited to perform on Top of the Pops. Additional Womble suits were hastily made for the live performance.

When appearing as a band, the Wombles were always played by experienced musicians in full costume. Batt continued to perform as Orinoco, regularly accompanied by drummer Clem Cattini as Bungo and guitarist Chris Spedding as Wellington (complete with Spedding's trademark white Gibson Flying V)--both of whom had previously recorded with Batt. On one edition of Top of the Pops, the costumes were filled by members of Steeleye Span.

Tim and Andy Renton, who had worked with Batt in the latter incarnation of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat also donned the costumes, along with Robin LeMesurier,[6] who also had a Gibson Flying V, but was kicked out of the band following an arrest for possession of marijuana.[7]

The band was the interval act at the Eurovision Song Contest 1974.

Wellington's Solo Career[edit]

In 1976, Wellington left the band and released the solo single, "Rainmaker".

Legacy[edit]

Batt remains sensitive about the legacy of the band. In a 2008 interview he said "It is hard to be taken seriously with the Wombles hanging around my neck like a furry anvil."[1] More recently (in a programme with Aled Jones on the BBC in 2010) Batt pointed out that, in balance, the Wombles also served as a "furry balloon" as it gave him his first chart success.[citation needed]

Glastonbury Festival[edit]

In April 2011, Batt announced that The Wombles would play at The Glastonbury Festival in June.[8] Michael Eavis, the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, said that booking the Wombles was "a bit of a mistake".[9] Batt quipped that Uncle Bulgaria had been offended by Eavis' comments and had withdrawn an offer to tidy up the site after the festival.[10]The band pulled a huge crowd on the Glastonbury Avalon stage- bigger than the audience for the main Pyramid stage on the same afternoon, so Mr Eavis' Avalon stage booker was exonerated.

Personnel[edit]

The Wombles[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

Discography[edit]

The Wombles discography
Releases
Studio albums 4
Compilation albums 9
Singles 16
Music videos 42
Soundtracks 1

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details
1973 Wombling Songs
  • Released: November 1973
  • Label: CBS (65803)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
  • Peak chart position: 19 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 17 (UK)
1974 Remember You're A Womble
  • Released: July 1974
  • Label: CBS (80191)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
  • Peak chart position: 18 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 29 (UK)
Keep On Wombling
  • Released: December 1974
  • Label: CBS (80526)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
  • Peak chart position: 17 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 6 (UK)
1975 Superwombling
  • Released: September 1975
  • Label: CBS (80997)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD

[3]

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album details
1975 The Best of The Wombles - 20 Wombling Greats
  • Released: 1975
  • Label: CBS (5022)
  • Peak chart position: 29 (UK)
  • Format: 12" vinyl
1976 The Best of The Wombles - 20 Wombling Greats (reissue)
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: Warwick/CBS
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
1978 The Wombles Christmas Party
  • Released: 1978
  • Label: SHM (977)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
1983 The Wombles Christmas Album
  • Released: 1983
  • Label: CBS (25805)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
1989 Wombling Hits
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: CBS (466118 1)
  • Format: 12" vinyl/CD
1997 Underground, Overground - The Ultimate Wombles Collection
  • Released: 1997
  • Label: RDCD (2181-2)
  • Format: CD
1998 'The Best Wombles Album So Far - Volume 1
  • Released: 16 March 1998
  • Label: Columbia (489562 2)
  • Peak chart position: 26 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 3 (UK)
  • Format: CD
2000 The Wombles Collection
  • Released: 20 November 2000
  • Label: Dramatico (DRAMCD0001)
  • Format: CD
2005 The Very Best Of The Wombles
  • Released: 3 October 2005
  • Label: Columbia (504418 2)
  • Format: CD
2011 The W Factor
  • Released: 28 November 2011
  • Label: Dramatico (B0062JIBLS)
  • Format: CD and MP3 Download

[3]

Singles[edit]

Year Single details
1973 "The Wombling Song" / "Wombles Everywhere"
  • Released: October 1973
  • Label: CBS (1794)
  • Peak chart position: 4 (UK), 5 (NZ)
  • Weeks in chart: 23 (UK), 19 (NZ)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
1974 "Remember You're A Womble" / "Bungo's Birthday"
  • Released: 29 March 1974
  • Label: CBS (2241)
  • Peak chart position: 3 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 16 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Banana Rock" / "The Womble Square Dance"
  • Released: June 1974
  • Label: CBS (2465)
  • Peak chart position: 9 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 13 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Non-Stop Wombling Summer Party" / "Wimbledon Sunset"
  • Released: September 1974
  • Label: CBS (2663)
  • Peak chart position: 55 (US)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Minuetto Allegretto" / "Womble Burrow Boogie"
  • Released: October 1974
  • Label: CBS (2710)
  • Peak chart position: 16 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 9 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Remember You're A Womble" / "Wellington Womble"
  • Released: 1974
  • Label: (US) Columbia (3-10013)
  • Peak chart position: 3 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Wombling Merry Christmas" / "Madame Cholet"
  • Released: November 1974
  • Label: CBS (2842)
  • Peak chart position: 2 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 8 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
1975 "Wombling White Tie And Tails" / "The Wombling Twist"
  • Released: April 1975
  • Label: CBS (3266)
  • Peak chart position: 22 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 7 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Superwomble" / "The Orinoco Kid"
  • Released: July 1975
  • Label: CBS (3480)
  • Peak chart position: 20 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 6 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"Let's Womble To The Party Tonight" / "Down At The Barber Shop"
  • Released: November 1975
  • Label: CBS (3794)
  • Peak chart position: 34 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 5 (UK)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
"The Womble Shuffle" / "To Wimbledon With Love"
  • Released: November 1975
  • Label: CBS (4049)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
1976 Wellington Womble - "Rainmaker" / The Wombles - "Wombling in the Rain"
  • Released: September 1976
  • Label: CBS (4604)
  • Format: 7" vinyl
1998 "Remember You're A Womble" / "Remember You're A Womble (Dance Mix)"
  • Released: 9 March 1998
  • Label: CBS
  • Peak chart position: 13 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 5 (UK)
  • Format: CD single
"The Wombling Song" / "The Orinoco Kid"
  • Released: 1 June 1998
  • Label: CBS
  • Peak chart position: 27 (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: 3 (UK)
  • Format: CD single
2000 "I Wish It Could Be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day" (with Roy Wood)
  • Released: 18 December 2000
  • Label: CBS
  • Peak chart position: 22 (UK)
  • Format: CD single
2011 "Wombling Merry Christmas" / "The Wombles Warning" / "Miss Adelaide (She's Got A Lot Of Knowledge)" / "The Jungle Is Jumping"
  • Released: 12 December 2011
  • Label: CBS
  • Peak chart position: (UK)
  • Weeks in chart: (UK)
  • Format: CD single

[3]

Music videos[edit]

Year Video details
1973 The Wombling Song (TV Version)
  • Released: 1973
Wombles Everywhere
  • Released: 1973
Exercise Is Good For You (Laziness Is Not)
  • Released: 1973
The Wombles' Warning
  • Released: 1973
Tobermory
  • Released: 1973
Dreaming In The Sun (Orinoco's Song)
  • Released: 1973
Madame Cholet
  • Released: 1973
Great Uncle Bulgaria's March
  • Released: 1973
Bungo's Birthday
  • Released: 1973
The Wombling Song (Full Version)
  • Released: 1973
1974 Remember You're A Womble
  • Released: 1974
Minuetto Allegretto
  • Released: 1974
Non-Stop Wombling Summer Party
  • Released: 1974
Wombling In The Rain
  • Released: 1974
Womble Burrow Boogie
  • Released: 1974
Wellington Goes To Waterloo
  • Released: 1974
The Womble Square Dance
  • Released: 1974
Wimbledon Sunset
  • Released: 1974
Banana Rock
  • Released: 1974
Womble Of The Universe
  • Released: 1974
The Orinoco Kid
  • Released: 1974
The Jungle Is Jumping
  • Released: 1974
Underground Overture
  • Released: 1974
The Hall Of The Mountain Womble
  • Released: 1974
Look Out For The Giant
  • Released: 1974
The Wombling Twist
  • Released: 1974
Tobermory's Music Machine
  • Released: 1974
Wipe Those Womble Tears From Your Eyes
  • Released: 1974
Invitation To The Ping Pong Ball
  • Released: 1974
Wombling Merry Christmas (Original)
  • Released: 1974
1975 The Womble Shuffle
  • Released: 1975
The Myths And Legends Of King Merton Womble And His Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
  • Released: 1975
Down At The Barber Shop (Singing In Harmony)
  • Released: 1975
The Empty Tidy Bag Blues
  • Released: 1975
Wombling White Tie & Tails
  • Released: 1975
Superwomble
  • Released: 1975
Miss Adelaide (She's Got A Lot Of Knowledge)
  • Released: 1975
Wombles On Parade
  • Released: 1975
To Wimbledon With Love
  • Released: 1975
Nashville Wombles
  • Released: 1975
Let's Womble To The Party
  • Released: 1975
1976 Rainmaker
  • Released: 1976
2000 I Wish It Could Be A Wombling Merry Christmas Everyday
  • Released: 2000
2011 Wombling Merry Christmas (New)
  • Released: 2011

Soundtracks[edit]

Year Album details
1977 Wombling Free - Original Soundtrack
  • Released: 1978
  • Label: CBS (70155)
  • Format: 12" vinyl

Parodies[edit]

The BBC Four comedy program Don't Watch That, Watch This showed a dubbed footage of The Wombles from TOTP2, of the Wombles purportedly performing "Anarchy in the U.K." live in June 1988. The scrolling caption during the song read "During the early eighties the Wombles reformed as a funk soul fusion. But the project soon failed and the group disbanded, only to come together again as the Dixie Minstrel Wombles. In 1988 the original line up were reunited for the third time to record their version of this Sex Pistols classic.... for a Pot Noodle commercial. Later released as a single it reached 57 on the charts".

The film The Rutles featured a Ringo Starr-inspired character named Barrington Womble who "shortened his name to save time...he simply became Barry Wom."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McCormick, Neil (2008-04-10). "Mike Batt: he can't forget he's a Womble". The Telegraph. 
  2. ^ Kim Cooper, David Smay, Jake Austen (2001). Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth. Feral House. p. 160. ISBN 0-922915-69-5. 
  3. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 608. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ Phil Hardy and Dave Laing (1988). Encyclopedia of Rock. Schirmer Books. p. 38. ISBN 0-02-919562-4. 
  5. ^ Stanley, Bob (2004-02-27). "Bob Stanley on the man inside the Womble suit". The Times. 
  6. ^ The son of actors John Le Mesurier and Hattie Jacques
  7. ^ Andrew Perry "The Wombles at Glastonbury 2011: interview", telegraph.co.uk, 15 June 2011
  8. ^ "Wombles of Glastonbury festival are we". Daily Mail. 22 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Glastonbury boss Michael Eavis regrets Wombles booking". BBC News. 8 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Wombles re-form to play Glastonbury". BBC News. 22 June 2011. 

External links[edit]