Licensing this single to Germany’s Ariola label must have been a quick matter for DinDisc/Virgin, if the cheap design reproduced on both sides of the sleeve cover is any indication. Superimposed over a generic photo of the Eiffel Tower is a promo portrait of the defunct Martha and the Muffins line-up — Martha Ladly, Carl Finkle, and by now drummer Tim Gane were out. The font is surely nothing that DinDisc’s art designer Peter Saville would have signed off on, and the whole thing looks like a first-year graphics student’s overnight rush-job. However, the 7″ inside the sleeve offers a potent showcase of Mark and Martha’s idiosyncratic pop hooks.

Especially gratifying is the a-side platform given to “One Day in Paris,” a Martha Johnson composition. The recording fades in on a loop of delicate swells from the Prophet 5 synthesizer; in a gentle, lullabylike melody, she sings bittersweetly of Martha and the Muffins’ triumphant May 1980 performance at Les Bain Douches. As told to Toronto’s Eye Weekly, the next day she found herself “sitting in a café called Café Un Deux Trois in Paris, and all the Parisian press were at the table, hungry to find out what I had to say.” She filled me in with missing details: suddenly, “everybody took off on me, and nobody waited for me to take me to go out sightseeing with them. I don’t know how I missed everybody, but I felt very alone.” Serene piano arpeggios and plucked guitar notes accompany her fragile introspection; sentimentality is unsettled by the startling presentness of her chorus: “One. Day. In. Paris.”

The b-side is of course the big hit off This Is The Ice Age (which I wrote about here). So, the Germans got two essential album cuts. I’d never suggest anyone forego This Is The Ice Age, although, paradoxically, Martha and the Muffins’ third album remains difficult to obtain or stream in its entirety in many countries. But as a metonym for the musical scope of their year of creative renaissance, or a metaphor for how elusive proper appreciation of their non-“Echo Beach” material has been, you’d be hard pressed to match this cheap little single.


The 7″ catalogue:
Martha and the Muffins – “Insect Love” b/w “Suburban Dream” (MM 001)
Martha and the Muffins – “Insect Love” b/w “Cheesies and Gum” (DIN 4)
Martha and the Muffins – “Echo Beach” b/w “Teddy The Dink” (DIN 9)
Martha and the Muffins – “Saigon” b/w “Copacabana” (DIN 17)
Martha and the Muffins – “Paint By Number Heart” b/w “Copacabana” (VS 1115)
Martha and the Muffins – “About Insomnia” b/w “1 4 6” (DIN 19)
Martha and the Muffins – “Suburban Dream” b/w “Girl Fat” (DIN 21)
Martha and the Muffins – “Was Ezo” b/w “Trance And Dance” (DIN 27)
Martha and the Muffins – “Women Around The World at Work” b/w “Twenty-Two in Cincinnati” (DIN 34)
Martha and the Muffins – “One Day in Paris” b/w “Women Around the World at Work”; (104.209)
Martha and the Muffins – “Swimming” b/w “Little Sounds (Excerpts)” (VS 1136)
Martha and the Muffins – “Danseparc (Everyday It’s Tomorrow)” b/w “Whatever Happened to Radio Valve Road” (WAKE 1)
Martha and the Muffins – “World Without Borders” b/w “Boys in the Bushes” (WAKE 2)
Martha and the Muffins – “Several Styles of Blonde Girls Dancing” b/w “I’m No Good at Conversation” (WAKE 4)
M+M – “Black Stations/White Stations” b/w “Xoa Oho” (WAKE 7)
M+M – “Cooling the Medium” b/w “Big Trees” (WAKE 8)
M+M – “Song In My Head” b/w “Riverine” (WAKE 14)
M+M – “Someone Else’s Shoes” b/w “Million Dollars” (WAKE 16)
M+M – “Only You”; b/w “Watching the Boys Fall Down” (WAKE 18)