Friday, March 14, 2008

Mike Batt - Zero Zero (1982)

By special request...

The album was recorded in 1982 during Mike's round the world voyage aboard his motor yacht 'Braemar'. It was originally commissioned by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) as a live concert to be performed at the Sydney Opera House to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It was, however, actually recorded as an ambitious studio production directed by Mike and Australian John Eastway. Zero Zero's ambitious graphics were part of Mike's original concept, and his sketches for the sets, costumes and animations began at sea on the voyage from Los Angeles to Australia via Honolulu and Fiji. When he arrived in Sydney he had a nearly completed score and a set of quite advanced drawings from which to work in the production of the piece.

The production was dogged by union problems, and canceled twice before eventually being produced as a co-production between Mike's own company and the ABC. The weird deal stuck with the Australian Equity Union was that two quite separate productions would be made; one with Mike playing the lead part of "Number 17" and one with an Australian (Graeme Watson, the choreographer) playing "Number 17". This was in order to preserve work for Australian Equity members but ended up creating artistic havoc, and double the expense for the ABC, who scrapped two operas in order to make the show, because of budget restrictions. The deal deprived several hundred equity members of employment in the operas and meant that every shot of the TV show had to be recorded twice, once with Mike in the lead and once with Graeme in the lead. The version with Mike (the international version) was agreed never to be shown in Australia, and the version with Graeme was agreed never to be shown outside of Australia.

Thankfully, Australian equity is a far different organization these days than it was then, and insane deals of this type are hopefully a thing of the past. The show was transmitted on Channel 4 in the UK (Mike having bought the international rights to the production from the ABC), and when initially transmitted only one side of the stereo soundtrack was broadcast! Channel 4 therefore retransmitted a few days later and over the years the show has built up something of a cult following. The duration is 42 minutes, and it takes the form of a visual and musical 'trip' into some time zone in the past or future, where love has been abolished and is regarded as a disease to be avoided. Our hero, Number 17 ("but you can call me Ralph") falls in love with Number 36, and is eventually committed to an Emotional Decontamination Center called Zero Zero. The name Zero Zero is therefore completely coincidental and does not refer in any way to either the year Zero of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, nor is it a reference to the year 2000. (from the official website,

Mike Batt - Zero Zero (1982)
  1. Introduction (The Birth Of Number 17)
  2. System 605
  3. Love Makes You Crazy
  4. Delirium
  5. Whispering Fools
  6. Zero Zero
  7. The Dance Of The Neurosurgeons
  8. No Lights In My Eyes
  9. Love Makes You Crazy (Instrumental Reprise)
This download has now expired.


HaLo said...

a MASSIVE thank a happy man....for a guy thats better known for the wombles and show music..the brief dip into concept album/electro type album was very good ...well i like it..thanks again


Anonymous said...

un grand merci de la suisse... seulment tarot suite est introuvable...

Anonymous said...

thank you very much!!
used to have it on vinyl, Zero Zero revisited
unusual example on new wawe and ochestra

Anonymous said...

Thanx enormous!
used to have in on vinyl
00 revisited

nenest56 said...


Thank you so much for this great album...
Greetings from Nenest

Kapitano said...

Oh my god. I thought I was the only one to remember this - from when I was 10 years old.

I caught the first half of the second and final showing on the BBC - interrupted by a goddamnned power cut. And I can still remember the costumes and songs.

An amazing find, which I never expected to have the chance to hear again. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

A grand "thank you" - also a major childhood favorite. Any possibility you could post in FLAC?

Anonymous said...

I have the whole Mike Batt "Zero Zero" show on video tape somewhere, and I have the album on vinyl. Could you repost a new link to the download? It's not working anymore.

Makell Bird said...

RS link is dead

Anonymous said...

I have just bought a CD and DVD double pack of Zero Zero on Amazon UK and this contains the video