Glorious one hit wonder time in my B100 favourite songs list with “Echo Beach”, a number 10 UK hit from 1980 by Martha And The Muffins.
I love a durable one hit wonder, when a band blazes brightly for a short period never to enter the mass consciousness again, except for the fact that their one tune to break through later takes on a life of its own. And 40 years since its original release, the constant radio and jukebox staple “Echo Beach” by Canada’s Martha And The Muffins certainly fits this category. That could perhaps be unfair on the band as they’ve consistently released albums and gained hit singles in their homeland, but for us UK pop kids, their magic begins and ends with “Echo Beach” and I actively don’t want to hear any other songs by them, for fear of dulling the magic of this fantastic gem.
Martha And The Muffins formed in Toronto 1977, and did indeed include a Martha in their ranks: keyboardist and vocalist Martha Johnson. Brilliantly, a second keyboardist/vocalist called Martha (Martha Ladly) joined the band the following year, but their quest to put more and more Marthas into rock’n’roll ended there. First album “Metro Music” was recorded in England in 1979, which includes “Echo Beach”, their one taste of international success.
Highly reminiscent of Blondie (obviously a very good thing) and helping to show the way for Kim Wilde’s “Kids In America” the following year, “Echo Beach” mashes up jangly new wave guitars and synthpop keyboard washes to create a track very much of its time but yet still fresh sounding today. As with much great pop, there’s a real yearning undercurrent, both within the song’s melodies and its wistful lyrics that “the only thing that helps me pass the time of day, is knowing I’ll be back at Echo Beach someday”. Not an actual place, instead a symbolic notion of where the song’s narrator would rather be, it’s always a delight to virtually head to “Echo Beach” for three minutes of escapist pop thrills.
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