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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.

Check out my favorites: “Womble Of The Universe” and the Asian-themed “Invitation To A Ping-Pong Ball”.

18 Comments

  • this shit is surreal!

  • Can I come with my ping-pong balls?
    Lol, sorry for that.

    It sounds good.

    Bapt

  • The Wombles are absolute godhead! Mike Batt, innit?

  • Alan,
    You should also check out the LollyWinks.

  • Ohhh i saw a whole bunch of wombles 45’s at a thrift store once, and i was very temped to pick them up, but sadly I didn’t…thats a rad album cover though! a womble with a nice sitar!

  • In 1974 The Wombles spent more weeks in the UK 45s chart than any other act! That was one rock’n’roll year …. They had eight hit singles in 74/5 …

  • They were HUGE in the UK in 1973/74/75 when I was a lad. The TV series featured stop-motion puppets in 7 minute episodes, made for the kids slot on BBC TV. Supposedly the Wombles lived on Wimbledon Common, a large open-area space in SW London. I remember supposed sightings making the news, probably on slow news days :) There were tie-in books, cuddly toys and of course several albums, all of which were indeed Mike Batt and other session guys. Happy days!

  • Makes me wonder if Enya’s tune was really about one of orinoco’s dreams!

  • i grew up with this album, it was one of the first albums i heard and its still fab today, the songs are classic and take me back to when i was very young …… very nostalgic… :-)

  • My very first album… My parents and I still put this on and sing along on those nights when we have had too much to drink at dinner…! I agree with steev – v.v.nostalgic.

  • This album is superb, it was the first album i owned when i was seven & initially I was dissapointed that it didn’t have the TV series theme on it but after a couple of plays i didn’t care. I have recently managed to get hold of “pingpong ballhall’ mp3. If anyone knows of the others I would be very interested.

  • Try “The Wombles Collection” – its a double-CD of this album and others. It pretty much has the whole album I think (11 songs from “Keep on Wombling”). If you’re outside the UK you’ll have to import it (I found a seller on ebay who was willing to post to Australia). Well worth it though if, like me, your album is a little trashed after years of use…

  • of course this stuff is good and lasting. Chris Spedding was a Womble. he still has to live it down, but he got paid and we got fun !

  • When I was young young young, we had this record! We listened to it CONSTANTLY whilst running around & aroung a table!! & WE speeded it up on the record player every time. God help our parents! :) good times. Cool to see the cover, ours is all written on with markers haha!

  • I have all four Wombles albums and most of their 45rpm singles. I enjoyed them a lot as a kid but I enjoy them even more now that I can identify so many musical styles, and the occasional nod/wink to other bands.

    Keep On Wombling is something special. With all the songs contributing to a single overall theme, did you realize what this is? I was shocked when I worked it out. It’s a CONCEPT ALBUM for 10 year olds!!! :)

    In the next album, Superwombling, Mike Batt goes even further. The track “The Myths and Legends of King Merton Womble and His Journey to the Centre of the Earth” is a full on parody of Rick Wakeman’s “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur” and “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”.

  • I believe that Roy Wood also had something to do with the Wombles. I had a PS45 that featured his name up front.

  • digitalmarley

    The wombles of wimbledon!!!

  • I had this record! It got warped in storage when the warehouse next door burned down. Gutted. Still remember the tunes tho – brilliant! :)

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