M+M (Martha and the Muffins, 1977-83). Toronto pop duo of songwriters Martha Johnson (vocals and keyboards) and Mark Gane (guitar).


M+M (Martha and the Muffins, 1977-83). Toronto pop duo of songwriters Martha Johnson (vocals and keyboards) and Mark Gane (guitar). Johnson and Gane were founding members in 1977 of the 'new-wave' group Martha and the Muffins, along with Martha Ladly (vocals), Andy Haas (saxophone), Carl Finkle (bass), and Tim Gane (drums), all of whom had left by 1981. The Muffins were one of the first bands to emerge from the so-called Queen Street West scene that later produced the Parachute Club, Blue Rodeo, and Cowboy Junkies.

Recording initially in England, the Muffins had a major hit internationally (save in the USA) in 1980 with Gane's quirky 'Echo Beach' (from the LP Metro Music, 1979, Virgin Dindisc V-2142). Club and TV appearances followed in England, and 'Echo Beach' received the 1980 Juno Award as single of the year. The Muffins also recorded Trance and Dance (1980, Virgin Dindisc VL-2207) and, with Jocelyn Lanois replacing Finkle, This Is the Ice Age (1981, Virgin Dindisc VL-2228). The latter included the Canadian hit 'Women around the World at Work'.

Johnson and Gane introduced the name M+M on Danseparc (1982, Current WAVE-1), recorded with Lanois and the drummer Nick Kent. Subsequent M+M LPs, characterized by an engaging flair for experimental effects and unconventional details within familiar pop and, more occasionally, funk formats, were made with Toronto, New York, or London studio musicians; Johnson and Gane rarely performed publicly after 1984. They had an international dance-club hit with 'Black Stations/White Stations' (from Mystery Walk, 1983, Current WAVE-3) in 1984, and their 'Song in My Head' (from The World Is a Ball, 1984-6, Current WAVE-6) was popular in 1986. After a sojourn 1987-9 in Bath, England, M+M re-established its base in Toronto.

Further Reading

  • Mills, Kathryn. 'Brits don't have to rule the waves,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 8 Mar 1980

    - 'Martha and the Muffins,' CanMus, vol 3, Feb 1981

    Livingstone, David. 'Ingredients for fast-rising Muffins,' Maclean's, 23 Nov 1981

    Robertson, Rick. 'Hot Muffins, U-Know?' Now, 20 Apr 1982

    Lacey, Liam. 'New album, new attitude for Martha, Muffins,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 26 Feb 1983

    Richler, Daniel. 'M+M: the world is a ball!' CanMus, vol 7, Oct 1985

    Goddard, Peter. 'M+M flee Queen West for the wider world of pop,' Toronto Star, 2 May 1986