“Someone Else’s Shoes” b/w “Million Dollars”
Current/RCA Records WAKE 16 (Canada)
Released probably in winter 1986
Produced by David Lord, Mark Gane and Martha Johnson

“Someone Else’s Shoes” is another pop-funk number featuring the Tinker Barfield/Yogi Horton rhythm section. Structurally it’s similar to “Song In My Head” — two chords with variation on the pre-chorus — a template on which to unfold another busy David Lord arrangement at a slightly quicker tempo than their previous single. Johnson’s vocal is spirited: “Wrap it up! Take it home!” she exhorts over the guitar solo. A prominent countervocal arrangement comes from backup singers Jo Swan and Jerry Marotta, the American session drummer who was recording the So album up the road in Aschcombe House, Peter Gabriel’s residence at the time.

A tangent on Bath, England. In this small city, the coincidence that Mark Gane and Martha Johnson were recording The World Is A Ball at David Lord’s Crescent Studio at the same time their old producer Daniel Lanois was recording So with Peter Gabriel a 10-minute drive away didn’t go unnoticed very long. When M+M manager and Current Records exec Gerry Young (who had another big Lanois-produced hit in 1983’s “Rise Up” by the Parachute Club) flew over to check in on the recordings, he joined the cordial reunion of Johnson, Gane, and Lanois at “high tea one afternoon at a typically quaint English tea-house in Bath,” as he writes in his memoir. The occasion was “where, for the first time I encountered Dan’s ‘man in black’ persona, which featured him in black leather from head to toe.” Interestingly, another prominent residential studio in Bath is Tears For Fears’ Wool Club; this is where David Lord’s associate Paul Ridout programmed the PPG synthesizer (a sampling keyboard at a time when that technology was rare and costly) for The World Is A Ball sessions. Closing the loop, after recording So Peter Gabriel built perhaps Bath’s most famous residential studio, Real World, a state-of-the-art facility regularly rented out to major recording artists. One of these was New Order, who were recording their album Republic at Real World in 1992 when they rang up their friend and former album designer, Martha Ladly — yes, the second Martha in the original Martha and the Muffins line-up — who unbeknownst to all had recently moved to the Bath area with her young family. During the visit Ladly was reacquainted with Gabriel (whom she originally met through Peter Saville Associates, the design firm that produced the So album cover), and he hired her for his Real World design and interactive technology units, where she would work from 1992-2001.

Back to late 1986. Beneath David Lord’s heavy-handed production, The World Is A Ball is an album with considerable musical range and varying styles, so it’s not clear why someone at RCA Records (the distributor and marketing muscle for Current) thought it would be wise to draw from practically the same musical well as “Song In My Head” when floating out the follow-up single. Even the two singles’ sleeve images are the same. Martha Johnson recalled being “very frustrated with the lack of attention” from RCA by this point: “I don’t think they ever quite knew what to do with us.” In this context, the choice of the a-side feels like a record company afterthought — probably a routine promotion for the 12 dates across eastern Canada that M+M had scheduled for the new year. The 7″ is not helped by the radio edit, which runs roughshod over the album version’s morse cod layering of keyboard and bass notes during the introduction.

On the b-side is “Million Dollars,” which was previously unreleased as the sleeve credits indicate. Mark and Martha would re-record it for their next album, 1991’s Modern Lullaby (released under the Martha and the Muffins name), retaining much of the skeletal arrangement heard here. Possibly I prefer this version, which in its more modest dynamic range has a pleasing hypnotic feel. Both a-side and b-side remain unreleased outside of this 7″.


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)