Every now and then you get a surprise when you pop a CD in the player, and WOW! What a surprise this one is. Maggie & Martin are Maggie De Monde and Martin Watkins and I had never heard of either of them. But it turns out I had heard of bands and artists they had worked in and with. Maggie was with UK chart toppers Swans Way (UK Top 20 with their single "Soul Train" in ‘83) and Scarlet Fantastic (hit single "No Memory" which became a rave generation anthem.). and Martin has collaborated with Marc Almond of Soft Cell and many side projects as well as solo work, for the past 20 years or so. Turns out these two probably crossed paths back in the early ‘80s when Soft Cell and Swans Way shared New York producer Mike Thorne.
At any rate, Maggie & Martin were introduced by their mutual friend Clayton Littlewood, who wrote the acclaimed book Dirty White Boy: Tales of Soho. Clayton asked them to work together on songs for his play which enjoyed a sell-out run in the West End. The duo enjoyed the collaboration so much that they decided to write and record an album's worth of songs and here it is.
Together they have formed a great power pop duo that runs the gambit from torch songs to tear drenched ballads and from brawny neo rock to operatic Euro-Disco.
Martin studied music at Goldsmiths London where luminaries such as Damon Albarn, Malcolm McLaren and Tracey Emin also studied. After Goldsmiths, he did his post grad studies at the University of Leeds
where he also taught in the music department. So, he knows his way around a keyboard without a GPS. In 1991, Martin produced, mixed and arranged Marc's Absinthe album so he knows his way around the sound board as well.
The songs were all written by Maggie and Martin for this album, and include nary a throw away. "Wu at Heart" is pure ear candy and as I was told by Randy Haecker who normally promotes music for Sony Music, but is handling this project on the side and gratis because Union is exceptional and deserves to be heard, “ it brings to mind how a studio collaboration between Dusty Springfield and the Thin White Duke might have sounded.” The versatile Maggie & Martin are equally at home in the great concert halls of Europe as they are in the dance clubs of London and the classical touches are all there but wouldn’t intimidate of put off a rock fan.
This one is going to the top of my ‘summer play list’. It came out on May 7, on Beauty Box Recordings and I’d add it to yours. It’s available in both CD and MP3 at all the usual places, or just follow the link to make consummate your Union.
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