Martha And The Muffins – Live At Spize, New York – May 3, 1983 – WLIR-FM – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
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Canadian New Wave/Art Pop band Martha And The Muffins, live at Spize in Farmingdale, New York on May 3, 1983 and lovingly broadcast for one and all by WLIR-FM.
Martha and the Muffins went from an emerging Toronto new-wave band to chart-topping Virgin Records signees seemingly overnight, all on the currency of one infectious guitar riff and a song that perfectly plugged into the ennui of a nine-to-five life in 1980.
It was a fortunate, tumultuous shift for a band that was still figuring out what it wanted to be. Ontario College of Art students Mark Gane and David Millar formed the band in 1977, with Martha Johnson recruited to sing and play keyboards shortly after. The original lineup also included Carl Finkle and Gane’s brother, Tim, on drums.
Released on debut album Metro Music, mainstream pop hit “Echo Beach” forever changed where the often experimental band was headed. The song won a Juno for single of the year in 1980, was certified gold and charted globally. It led to the band’s record deal with Virgin Records subsidiary Dindisc, and another life in the U.K.
Many albums followed, and 1981’s This is the Ice Age marked the beginning of a three-album relationship with a certain Hamilton-based producer named Daniel Lanois, long before his was a household name — Lanois’ sister, Jocelyne, was a bassist in Martha and the Muffins for a few years.
In the mid-’90s, things would shift again for the band, which at that point counted Johnson and Gane as sole members. Johnson released a children’s album in 1995, three years after their daughter was born, and it garnered her a second — and quite unexpected — Juno Award. The aughts would bring about another major life change: in 2000, Johnson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which meant she could no longer perform. (Johnson and Gane were writing a song to raise money for Rock Steady, a non-contact boxing group created specifically for people with Parkinson’s.)
In case you missed them the first time around, hit the Play button and get caught up.