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The Hunting of The Snark

September 20, 2010 by  

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The Hunting of The Snark

MIKE BATT ‘The Hunting of The Snark’ Released for the first time as a CD+DVD on November 1st

To mark his 40th year as a successful singer, songwriter, composer and musician, Mike Batt is to finally give a greatly overdue full UK release to his album ‘The Hunting of The Snark’, in a CD+DVD combination previously only available in his Archive Series box set.

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.

Keeping 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 Bucher, 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 and its inclusion as a DVD on this release marks the first time it has ever been commercially available.

Hampered by record label wrangling and lack of financing on its first pressing in 1985, ‘The Hunting of The Snark’ showcases 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 future for a piece that hitherto has been as elusive as the titular Snark itself.



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