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Martha and the Muffins (M+M)


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Mainstream pop

Status:

Most recent release, Delicate (2010)

See also:

The Martha and the Muffins site

Wikipedia's site for Martha and the Muffins

Comparisons:

Other early 80s pop bands: a little like early Rainbirds, Parachute Club

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

1980s new wave-influenced dance/pop sound, distinctive because of Martha Johnson's voice. The quality of their individual collections is uneven, but overall they are well worth tracking down and listening to. (Neile)

Martha and the Muffins (aka M+M) put out some amazing albums and I would love to hear something new by them!; ). (colford@chlotrudis.org)

quirky, new wave-ish pop from toronto. a number of great albums which are, unfortunately, unavailable on cd. this is the ice age is probably their best but i think all of it is pretty nifty. (woj@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Then Again: A Retrospective is a good place to start and readily available (at least in Canada); my personal favourite is Danseparc. (Neile)

Recordings:


Metro Music

Release info:

Released on vinyl 1979—Virgin (UK); DinDisk (Canada); re-released on cd 2003—EMI (Canada)

Availability:

Canada

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for pop fans

Group members:

Martha Johnson—vocals, keyboards
Martha Ladly—vocals, keyboards, trombone, treble
Mark Gane—guitar, synthesizer
Carl Finkle—bass
Mick Kent—drums
Tim Gane—drums
Andy Haas—saxophone

Produced by:

Mike Howlett

Comments:

This is a classic pop album, featuring Martha Johnson's strong alto lead vocals. It has Martha and the Muffins' biggest hit, "Echo Beach", on it, but some other great and fun tracks as well. All of this album (in a slight different order) appears on the Far Away in Time compilation. (Neile)

Trance and Dance

Release info:

1980—Virgin (UK); DinDisk (Canada)

Availability:

Out of print; never released on CD

Ecto priority:

Recommended for dance pop fans only

Group members:

Martha Johnson—vocals, keyboards
Martha Ladly—vocals, keyboards, trombone, treble
Mark Gane—vocals, guitar, synthesizer
Carl Finkle—bass
Tim Gane—percussion, drums
Andy Haas—saxophone

Produced by:

Mike Howlett

Comments:

Probably my least favourite of their albums as it veers too far toward dance music for my tastes. This seems to be the consensus, as even Then Again: A Retrospective only includes one track from here. (Neile)

This is the Ice Age

Release info:

1982—Virgin (UK); DinDisk (Canada); re-released on CD c. 2005

Availability:

Hard to find

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mark Gane—guitar, percussion, vocals, treatments
Tim Gane—percussion, drums
Andy Haas—saxophone, alto saxophone, treble
Martha Johnson—percussion, keyboards, vocals
Jocelyne Lanois—bass, percussion, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Daniel Lanois—percussion, vocals, backing vocals
Nick Gane—castanets, noise
Gordon Deppe, Sandy Horne, Corinne Plomish, Alyx Skriabow—vocals, backing vocals
Andy Condon—handclaps
George Axon—percussion
Glen Schellenberg—piano

Produced by:

Martha and the Muffins and Daniel Lanois

Comments:

One of my most prized pieces of vinyl is This is the Ice Age, from the days when Martha had more than one Muffin, and the-at-the-time- totally-unknown-but-clearly-an-Eno-fanatic-little-did-he-know-that-he- would-end-up-the-801-right-hand-man Daniel Lanois was producing. Mark's guitar playing is astounding. Please please please let them release this and Danseparc on CD (the compilations are *not* enough...). (bossert@suddensound.com)

Some of Martha and The Muffins' best songwriting here: ranging from pop classics (Women Around the World at Work") to haunting ("One Day in Paris"). Really, this is an impressive album and, no, the compilations are not enough! (Neile)


Danseparc

Released as by Martha and the Muffins/M+M

Release info:

Released on vinyl 1983—Current/RCA (Canada)—wave1; rereleased on CD with Mystery Walk 2000—One Way/BMG (U.S.)—OW 71003

Availability:

Out of print?

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mark Gane—guitar, percussion, keyboards, vocals, treatments
Martha Johnson—vocals, inverse guitar, keyboards, percussion
Nick Kent—percussion, drums
Jocelyne Lanois—bass, backing vocals, percussion

Guest artists:

Daniel Lanois—percussion, backing vocals, treatments
Ron Allen—tenor sax, soprano sax
Bentones/Bentonettes—backing vocals
Nick Gane—piano, synthesizer
Debbie Griffiths—backing vocals
John Oswald—alto sax
Glen Schellenberg—casiotone 202
Dick Smith—percussion

Produced by:

Daniel Lanois with Mark Gane and Martha Johnson

Comments:

This is my favourite of theirs. We nearly wore out our vinyl copy of this and were delighted with the CD re-release with Mystery Walk. This album is catchy, lively, and danceable, but also has interesting, intelligent lyrics. It's fun, but also has depth. A consistently good collection. (Neile)

Another fave. Mark's guitar playing is also astounding here. (bossert@suddensound.com)


Mystery Walk

Released as by M+M

Release info:

Released on vinyl 1984—Current Records/RCA (Canada)—Wave 3; rereleased on CD with Danseparc 2000—One Way/BMG (U.S.)—OW 71003

Availability:

Out of print?

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Mark Gane—guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion, treatments
Martha Johnson—vocals, keyboards, percussion

Guest artists:

Daniel Lanois—rhythm guitar, pedal steel guitar, treatments
Yogi Horton, Fred Maher—drums
Tinker Barfield, David Piltch—bass
Dick Smith, Quammie—percussion
Bill Bryans, Martin Beller, Henry Declemente—drums
Julie Masi, Brian Patti, Shawne Jackson, Sharon Lee Williams—backing vocals
Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Wayne Mills—horns
Rufus Cappdocia—cello

Produced by:

Daniel Lanois, Mark Gane, Martha Johnson

Comments:

Good collection with great songs like "Alibi Room," "Come Out and Dance," and "I Start to Stop." Catchy, danceable. Not my favourite of their albums, but still worthy. (Neile)

The World is a Ball

Released as by M+M

Release info:

1986—Current/RCA (Canada)—wave 6

Availability:

Out of print

Ecto priority:

Recommended for pop fans only

Group members:

Mark Gane—guitar, vocals
Martha Johnson—vocals

Guest artists:

Tinker Barfield—bass
Yogi Horton—drums
Shawne Jackson, Ruby Turner—backing vocals
Tony Levin—chant
Jerry Marotta, Colina Phillips—backing vocals
David Piltch—bass
Paul Ridout—programming
Michael Sloski—drums
Dick Smith—percussion

Produced by:

David Lord, Mark Gane, Martha Johnson

Comments:

This veers away again to being too pop/dancey for me. (Neile)

Far Away in Time

Release info:

1987—Virgin (UK)—COMCD 12

Availability:

Canada and UK

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

Compilation of tracks from their first three albums: Metro Music, Trance and Dance, and This is the Ice Age, with the emphasis on Metro Music. While some of this is less memorable, it has many classic songs, especially "Echo Beach." (Neile)

Modern Lullaby

Release info:

1992—Intrepid (Canada)—N21S 0014; 1992—Rebel Rec./SPV (Germany)—SPV 084-45382

Availability:

Canada

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mark Gane and Martha Johnson

Guest artists:

David Piltch—bass
Stuart Gordon—violin
Michael Sloski, Tim Gane—additional percussion

Produced by:

Mark Gane and Martha Johnson

Comments:

Very imaginative, innovative keyboard sounds, fantastic singing, varied moods from serene to dark and melancholic (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

This has a couple of weaker songs, but the stronger ones more than make up for them. The songs still sound very Martha and the Muffins, but have a couple of well-done more ethereal sounding songs, e.g. "To Dream About You." This is well worth finding. (Neile)

Modern Lullaby continues in the band's fine tradition. A terrific album. Their classy sense of funk/pop thrills me. One of the top of the year! (colford@chlotrudis.org)

okay but not as inspired as their earlier albums, in my opinion. (woj@smoe.org)


Then Again: A Retrospective

Release info:

1998—EMI (Canada) 7243 4 96001 2 6

Availability:

Canada

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

A compilation of their 7 studio albums plus one new bonus track. From Metro Music: "Paint by Number Heart", "Echo Beach"; from Trance and Dance: "Suburban Dream"; from This Is the Ice Age: "You Sold The Cottage", "Swimming", "Women Around The World At Work"; from Danseparc: "World Without Borders", "Danseparc (Every Day It's Tomorrow)", "Obedience", "Several Styles of Blonde Girls Dancing"; from Mystery Walk: "Black Stations/White Stations", "Come Out and Dance", "Cooling the Medium"; from The World is A Ball: "Song In My Head", "By the Waters of Babylon"; from Modern Lullaby: "Rainbow Sign" "Fighting the Monster"; new: "Resurrection".

Best compilation of the year. This is the one that I would get for my first Martha and the Muffins CD. It includes songs from all of their albums including the three, in my opinion, best ones, Danseparc, Mystery Walk and The World is a Ball. (colford@chlotrudis.org)

Wonderful to have these songs available again, and on cd. I'm especially delighted to have the Danseparc songs as our vinyl copy of this album is wearing out. I have to admit, though, that the new song "Resurrection" doesn't do all that much for me. It's a great retrospective, though. (Neile)


Further info:

Vocalist Martha Johnson has also put out a solo children's album, Songs from the Tree House.


Thanks to Dirk Kastens for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2013-09-01 01:01:12.
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