The Wombles – Keep On Wombling
The moment I saw the trippy psych/kiddie album cover, I knew I had to buy this record, and I’m sure glad I did. The Wombles are an H.R. Pufnstuf meets The Muppets children’s television and book series from the UK with a mission: they’re all about picking up litter. I had some high hopes for this album, but the songs inside were even better than I could have imagined. It’s full of fantastic, catchy pop songs, and I haven’t been able to put it away.
The Wombles were, musically speaking, the alter ego of a 25-year-old Mike Batt, who went on to moderate success with solo records in the 80’s, and is now writing and producing for other artists. After I picked this album up, I hunted down a few other Wombles records, and “Keep On Wombling” is by far my favorite. The whole first side is a series of songs based on the dreams of the main character, Orinoco, where he imagines himself in several different occupations (astronaut, jungle explorer, composer, etc.).
The second side has songs without a specific plot, including a “twist”, a song about record players, and a Christmas song. All of the tracks are consistently enjoyable, full of clever lyrics, wink and nod musical references, and well crafted pop. This is one of those rare children’s records that don’t sound like “children’s music”: adults may enjoy it more than actual children. There’s a UK only greatest hits album in print on CD, but most of the best stuff from this album isn’t on there.