Saturday, 5 November 2011

From nine to five I have to spend my time at work. My job is very boring, I’m an office clerk. The only thing that helps me pass the time away is knowing I’ll be back at Echo Beach some day.

Quick HIt

“Echo Beach” by Martha and the Muffins (1980)

“Echo Beach” was blaring on a jukebox at a Friday night get-together in the ‘lounge’ what seems like an eternity ago. A guy I was talking to knew I collected music and was asking me if he should buy the new Martha and Muffins album. “Was this the way to develop a good record collection?” he asked.

In 1977, inspired by the punk & new wave movement and bored with safe seventies music, friends David Millar and Mark Game (both guitarists) decided starting a band. Practicing in ’77, musicians came and went but eventually Martha Johnson (keyboards) and Ken Finkle (bass) joined. Tim Game (drums) joined soon after.

After trying on a long list of band names, determined not to have a phony copy-cat punk band name, someone suggested ‘Martha and the Muffins’. The name which was meant to be temporary, stuck.

In 1978 while Andy Hass, fellow Ontario College of Art student played saxophone on a few gigs, Millar decided to be the sound engineer and a Martha Ladly auditioned for the guitar job, but became keyboardist and backup singer.

The band caught a lucky break after Andy Hass sent a demo tape to Glen O’Brien, the music critic of Andy Warhol’s ‘Interview’ magazine in New York. Early in 1979 they were signed by Virgin records and the next thing they knew they were recording their first album “Metro Music” in a studio nest Oxford England. From this album, the single “Echo Beach” would become an international hit and they were in instant demand.

Without a manager, the pressure of instant success and the outcry for a brilliant follow-up shattered the band. The second album “Trances and Dances” was recorded while the band was infighting. They opened for Roxy Music in the U.K. but soon would self-destruct. The album sadly produced no singles and the band fizzled some more.

Eventually when Finkle left the band in 1981, Jocelyn Lanios, sister of then unknown producer Daniel Lanios joined the band. Ladly had also left by the time the band did a cut-rate album with Daniel that produced the Canadian hit “Women Around the World at Work”, which went to #24 in Canada.

Martha Johnson recorded a children’s’ album in 1995 which one a Juno Award for ‘Best Children’s Album. Martha Ladly had some success in the U.K. where she did a few solo singles, and eventually joined Robert Palmer’s band. Later she helped produce Peter Gabriel’s ‘Real World’ multimedia production team. She is now a professor at the Ontario College of Art.

So when I was asked whether to buy this album, I told him “This is a good album with a strong single, if you like it, you should buy it. The way you end up with a good record collection”, I said, was “to get music that you like. No one can be the judge of that except you”. I don’t know if he ever bought it.

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