I’ll Tell It To The Net: Why Martha Davis Failed As A Solo Artist

I recently joined the Kelvin Club, one of the more inclusive and quirky of the private members’ clubs in Melbourne (they are inclusive because aside from welcoming women as members for the past 30 years, they accepted me as a member).

Last Friday after work I hosted several of my colleagues as my guests at the Club for a few drinks, which turned into a few more, and then we were still then when an acoustic duo showed up next to our table and started performing some classic Australian songs.

Being of the countdown generation, we knew and loved a lot of the songs (1980s classics) and after a while, as the vibe got very merry, we sang along.

It was quite a lot of fun, and we had a chuckle about the evening on Monday morning when we next assembled.

Which is a good way to explain why I have particular tastes in music.

As I was a teenager in Australia during the 1980s, I have a significant affection for American band The Motels, who were more popular here than anywhere else in the world. [I remember being told that Martha Davis, the leader singer, was 37 or so, and to me, in my early teens, that seemed positively ancient. I can laugh at that now forty years later.]

Recently, I have been listening to The Motels a fair bit on Apple Music, and also to Martha Davis’ long forgotten 1987 solo album Policy. Policy was a bit of a commercial failure, even though Tell It To The Moon was a song I enjoyed very much at the time of its release, which goes a long way to explaining the impossibility of finding the album online in recent decades/

Comparing Tell It To The Moon to some of the classic Motels songs I know and love so well, such as Total Control, Cecilia, Shame On Me, and Bonjour Baby, I think I can see why Martha Davis did not enjoy great success when she chose to go solo when The Motels were about to start their next studio album.

Put simply, the music is over produced, it is too perfect and lacks any of the quirks in the songs The Motels did when they were a band. It was Martha Davis getting her own way, and somehow, the soul of the band was lost.

When listening to it, I was reminded of the scene in Bohemian Rhapsody where Freddie Mercury explains to the rest of Queen that he needs them, that when he just paid session musicians to do his solo album exactly the way he wanted it, he only got what he wanted, not what his band could contribute.

Martha Davis, for all her great talent as a chanteuse, was far greater at the front of a good band, rather than a solo artist.

And I tell that to the net.

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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