Martha and the Muffins

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Martha and the Muffins

Martha and the Muffins were a Canadian new wave synth pop band in the 1970s and 1980s. Although they only had one major hit single under that name, the core members of the band had several more hits as M + M.

The band's initial lineup came together in 1977, when Mark Gane, David Millar, Carl Finkle, Martha Johnson, Tim Gane and Martha Ladly came together and began playing shows in Toronto. Millar left the band within the year, however. (Although there were actually two Marthas in the band, lead singer Martha Johnson was the Martha of the band's name.)

In 1978, they released their first independent single, "Insect Love", which quickly garnered them a recording deal with Virgin Records. The following year, their first Virgin album, Metro Music, was released, giving the band a major international hit single with "Echo Beach". The band added saxophone player Andy Haas in 1979, and Tim Gane was replaced on drums by Mick Kent. Although the album didn't spawn any further hits, "Paint by Number Heart" did get some airplay on Canadian radio.

In 1980, they released their second album, Trance and Dance, which was less successful and didn't give the band any hit singles. Also in 1980, Ladly left the band, and Kent left when Tim Gane returned as the drummer.

In 1981, Finkle also left the band, and was replaced by Jocelyne Lanois, the sister of record producer Daniel Lanois. Daniel Lanois also produced the band's 1981 album, This is the Ice Age, which got significant radio airplay from the singles "Women Around the World at Work" and "Swimming".

1982's Danseparc was again produced by Daniel Lanois; Haas and Tim Gane left the band, and Gane was replaced by Dick Smith. By this time the band's name was officially M + M, although the album cover had both M + M and Martha and the Muffins printed on it. The album was unsuccessful, and in 1983 the band broke up.

Martha Ladly went on to join Robert Palmer's band, and Jocelyne Lanois returned to the Canadian pop charts in 1989 as a member of Crash Vegas. Ladly is now a graphic design instructor at the Ontario College of Art & Design.

The core of Martha Johnson and Mark Gane continued to perform as M + M, however. Their 1984 album as a duo, Mystery Walk, was again produced by Daniel Lanois, and gave them their biggest hit in years with "Black Stations/White Stations", an anti-racist anthem whose first verse took radio stations to task for refusing to play a song about mixed-race dating (INXS's "Original Sin").

"Black Stations/White Stations" was a smash hit in Canada; in the United States it topped the dance music charts, but was ironically banned by many radio stations. "Cooling the Medium", the second single, was also a significant hit in Canada. In 1985 Johnson and Gane headed to Bath, England to work with producer David Lord, resulting in the album The World is a Ball. Although the lead single, "Song in my Head", garnered them some airplay, the album again sold poorly, and Gane and Johnson subsequently moved to England.

They didn't record again until 1992, when they revived the name Martha and the Muffins (but did not reunite the original band) for the album Modern Lullaby; the single "Rainbow Sign" was only a moderate hit. Johnson and Gane moved on to other projects, and have never released material as a duo since. They did, however, perform at the 2003 CFNY Reunion.

In 2005, Johnson and Gane performed a number of reunion shows in Toronto, including a double bill with the also-reunited Parachute Club scheduled for May 14. In press coverage of the reunion shows, Johnson stated that the band may record new material, but that nothing definitive has currently been planned.


Martha and the Muffins

M + M


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