Down The Dumper – The 80s Part 25.

This is a group that sort-of qualifies for this series, hopefully why will become clear, as they were a one-and-a-very-small-part hit wonder. Martha And The Muffins were a group who formed in the late-70s, fronted by the Toronto-born Martha Johnson. In March 1980, “Echo Beach” was released, and became their first hit single in the UK (under this name at least), making the Top Ten. This was also favourably compared to the B-52’s in a Smash Hits review.

This is a song that is still rather familiar many years on, being frequently played on the radio, and influential too, having been covered and sampled by various artists. in 1987, Toyah released her version of “Echo Beach” to try and revive her career, which didn’t really work, and only ended up earning her a place as a previous entry in this “Down The Dumper” series.

And in August 2009 “Echo Beach” was sampled by MPHO for “Box And Locks”, which made the Top 50. What do you mean you don’t remember that one? Also in March 1980, their album “Metro Music” made the Top 40. But every other single and album release got nowhere on the chart, everything was frustratingly overshadowed by one rather famous song, and by 1982 they had split.

But by 1984, they had sort-of got back together, and they were now renamed M + M (not to be confused with a chocolate, or indeed a rapper who wouldn’t find fame for another 15 years yet). I remember that the Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles always used to specifically note that this stood for “Martha And A Muffin”. And that’s it. There used to be other Muffins, but they’ve gone.

The slight name change was because they were now a duo, consisting of Martha and Mark Gane, who eventually married. In July 1984, their relaunch single “Black Stations White Stations” was released, which had something of a dance feel (and did well on the Billboard Dance Chart), and was about the state of what was being played on the radio. There was also a rather eye-catching video.

The lyrics also referenced “this is 1984“, like many other songs in this year. One online commenter said “I had this on a cassette, and played it until the tape stretched”. Now there’s a compliment, considering your song to be tape-stretchingly brilliant. “Black Stations White Stations” reached no. 46 in the UK, but again further singles didn’t succeed. It was good to discover something different by them though, and by the late-80s, they had become Martha And The Muffins again.


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