25 January 2015

Art Nouveau - See You Ma/ Lightning Tree

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1974

Ballads dripping with syrupy strings dominated the mid-seventies, feeling like luxurious attempts for variety show slots on television or the lighter moments of radio. Many were successful, continuing the thirst the British public continued to have for gentle pop - Engelbert Humperdinck beating The Beatles to number one in 1967 was no one-off fluke - but still more fell utterly by the wayside and this solitary release by Art Nouveau falls into the latter category.

Where this differs greatly is the subject matter, being a vaguely disconcerting ballad about one 25 year old man's smothering mother who takes care of his every domestic need. It's creepy enough to be interesting. "You are spoiling me mar-maarr" politely enunciates the vocalist at the beginning over gentle piano lines, before going on to speculate about how a man who throws his clothes all over the floor for his mother to collect could ever end up married. Cheer up, mush, there are plenty of slovenly women in the world too. Like Pink Floyd's "Mother" set to a gentle string arrangement, it's a queer fish in the waters of MOR pop. The songwriting credit goes to a Meehan, and I'm wondering whether Tony Meehan of The Shadows could be responsible - but I've no evidence. 

Likely to be of greater interest to your average "Left and to the Back" reader is the flip, a spirited and sprightly cover of the "Follyfoot" theme, "Lightning Tree". 

Art Nouveau are something of a mystery, having no recorded history. This would appear to have been their only single, and it's impossible to deduce whether they were a group consisting solely of session personnel or a gigging club/ cabaret act. After this track failed, they were clearly given no further opportunities to professionally record.


VanceMan said...

That's certainly maudlin. I want to file it under "death disc," but it's too depressing even for that.

23 Daves said...

It's the sound of one man crying into his carpet slippers in a very beige bedroom.

Anonymous said...

"Lightning Tree" was used as the theme song to the ITV children's series "Follyfoot" in 1973. The TV version was sung by The Settlers though.