Even if I had never heard their music before, a band with the name “Martha & The Muffins” would pique my interest enough to listen. The ironic thing is, the name was only supposed to be temporary, but ended up lasting for pretty much the lifetime of the band.
Formed in 1977 in Toronto by two Ontario College of Art students David Millar and Mark Gane, the band debuted at a Halloween party. The initial line-up included Martha Johnson (keyboards) Carl Finkle (bass) and Tim Gane (drums). As the band struggled to hit their mark, they went through several personnel changes. Millar left in ’78 to become the band’s sound engineer shortly after Andy Haas (saxophone) signed on.
Martha & The Muffins’ first LP release was called Metro Music and spawned a hit single, “Echo Beach.” From this point on, the line-up of the band was in constant flux, often relying on guest musicians to fill in. One benefit of all the changes was bringing the band into contact with Daniel Lanois who was to become a production legend in his own right. He worked out a deal with the band’s record label and became the band’s producer. It was a successful match all around.
Through all of the personnel changes (and even a later name change to M+M), Martha & The Muffins/M+M provided solid, post-punk music fringed with just the right amount of synthesizer and sax, giving listeners a wide range of instrumentation, rhythms, and lyrics to keep interest strong. Their one smash hit, “White Stations/Black Stations” from the Mystery Walk album was an anti-racism song written in reaction to a radio stations refusing to play a song about a mixed-race romance. It stormed the charts in a big way in both Canada and the US. Ironically, some stations refused to play it, but it soared nonetheless.
I have been lucky to be exposed to Martha & The Muffins/M+M through both David Marsden and Ed-FM. They are clearly a gifted band who contributed enormously to the landscape of 80’s New Wave and post-punk music.
“Echo Beach” (dubbed over live footage) via YouTube user Barsopen 1970:
“Danseparc” via YouTube user Whuntmore:
“Women Around The World At Work” via YouTube user axelspeak:
“Black Stations White Stations” via YouTube user Whuntmore:
Metro Music (1979)
Trance and Dance (1980)
This is the Ice Age (1981)
Danseparc (1983, credited to Martha and the Muffins/M + M)
Mystery Walk (1984, credited to M + M)
The World is a Ball (1985, credited to M + M)
Far Away In Time (1987) – compilation