Martha and the Muffins – Black Stations/White Stations (1984)

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“Black Stations/White Stations” is a song recorded by the Canadian group Martha and the Muffins in 1984 from the album Mystery Walk under the shortened name M+M. The track was the first single to be released after the act became a duo consisting of lead singer Martha Johnson and group founder Mark Gane (hence the shortened name, with the first letter of their first names). The single is a departure from the new wave genre, with emphasis this time around on a Dance/Funk direction, which featured brothers Randy & Michael Brecker and Wayne Mills on horns. The song’s title deals with the subject of racism in the radio industry, at a time when more cutting-edged songs and the radio stations in general were starting to open up to newer formats like Rhythmic contemporary, for which this song predates the genre. It also took on how station policies dictates what can or can not be played on air. This was evidenced by Johnson, who recalled how a radio station refused to play a song about an interracial relationship. That experience prompted Johnson and Gane to write about their feelings over this practice by recalling the events, in which they use lyrics like “I dream in Black and White” and call for stations in general to “Stand Up and Face the Music/This Is 1984!” The single was also controversial in its own right, as radio stations avoided playing the single because of the song’s title and lyrics despite being a modest hit in Canada, where it peaked nationally at 26. In the United States, the single got as far as number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but somehow it would be the act’s biggest hit (since “Echo Beach” in 1980) on the Dance/Club Play Songs chart, where it reached number 2 in 1984.

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