Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Black Stations/White Stations" by M + M

Song#:  1962
Date:  06/30/1984
Debut:  82
Peak:  63
Weeks:  7
Genre:  New Wave, Dance

Pop Bits:  This Canadian band may be more recognized by their original name, Martha and the Muffins. Their debut album featured the well-known 1980 international hit "Echo Beach." That song hit the Top 10 in several countries including Canada where it got to #5 and won the Juno for Single of the Year. However, folks in the US didn't take to the song and the best that it could do was get to #37 on the Dance chart. Despite its failure to reach the Pop chart in the US, it has become cult-ishly popular thanks to its inclusion on many 80s compilations. The band didn't have a lot of success following up the hit and after some personnel change, they sought to reinvent themselves and changed their name to M + M. Their 1984 album Mystery Walk became the first to be credited fully to the new moniker (a previous album was a transition one that credited both names). This first single did okay in Canada getting to #26, but it took off on the US Dance chart and reached #2. That action caused it to crossover to Pop for a few weeks becoming their first and only song to reach that chart. The band released a couple of more albums, but could not capitalize on the momentum of this single. The band would eventually call it a day, but would go through a couple of different revivals over the years.

ReduxReview:  While this song has a nice, percolating rhythm akin to something from the Talking Heads, it's not really hooky enough to click at Pop radio. However, that beat is tasty enough for the dancefloor, so its #2 showing at Dance was not surprising. They kind of date the song in referencing 1984, but I think the sentiment is still (sadly) valid. Arguably, it was their best single since "Echo Beach" and getting Lanois on board (see below) was certainly a great decision.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was inspired by a story about a radio station that would not play a song because the subject matter dealt with an interracial relationship. It also tackles racism and other practices that were taking place within the radio world. It has been mentioned that this song was even banned from airplay by certain stations because of the lyrical content.  2) Regardless of which moniker was used, this band was the launching pad for a now-famous Grammy-winning producer. Back in 1981, the band needed a new bass player and they hired on Jocelyne Lanois. Jocelyne's brother, Daniel, was also a musician who began producing music for a few local artists in a studio he set up in his mom's basement. Jocelyne suggested to the band that Daniel produce their next album. The band was on board with the idea, but their label was not. They were not keen on an unknown/untested producer working on a major label album. However, the label agreed on the condition that the budget would be far smaller. Lanois then came aboard and co-produced 1981's This is the Ice Age. Although critics loved the album, it wasn't a big hit and the band lost their label deal. They moved over to RCA and did two more acclaimed albums with Lanois, including Mystery Walk. Lanois would go on to fame producing albums by U2, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Bob Dylan, and many others. Over the years, eleven Grammys would be won.


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