The only British Hit for the Canadian group Martha and The Muffins, 'Echo Beach' reached No. 10 in March 1980Although the group has sporadically reappeared over the years - or at least core members Martha Johnson and Mark Gane have revived the name - as of 1986 they were working as a duo M+M, in which form they had a Top 50 hit in the UK. This was and still is the parent group's only appearance on the British chart, however. I can't remember exactly when I first heard this song, though it was presumably have been later than 1980. I think it was on a tape because it had been on a radio after something my mum recorded that was less than 45 minutes long. I was still pretty young but I remember it making quite an impression on me, because I'd never really heard anything quite like this, with that slightly sci-fi mood, those low-pitched guitars and that slightly detached-sounding vocal. I'd never heard of a band with a silly name like Martha And The Muffins either, although I don't think it's a bad name. I only discovered much later that there were two Marthas in the band at the time.
For some reason, the other thing that really caught my ear was the pronunciation of "clerk" (to rhyme with "work") which I'd never encountered before; mind you, I might never have seen the word written down, as opposed to the name Clark. It transpires that Mark Gane's actual day-job when he wrote the song was checking wallpaper for printing errors, which sounds considerably more boring than being an "office clerk". Full discloure, now I'm a grown-up, I actually do work in an office and I don't really mind it. Rather that than the jobs my ancestors had to do. I'm not that keen on beaches for that matter, but then again Echo Beach isn't supposed to be a real place in the song, and it certainly doesn't sound like one. Canada is not a nation we really associate with beaches, though we could be doing them an injustice there. The song is really about imagination.
Like a lot of songs on this album, I like it but struggle to associate it with summer, beyond the fact that it has the word "beach" in the title of course. A bit like 'California Dreamin' it's a song about the idea of being elsewhere, and as such I always sort of thought of it as more of a winter or autumn thing.
Available on: Metro Music