It’s not a spine-tingling who-dunnit, not a long-unsolved case which has baffled the experts, has nothing to do with hip-hop singer M.I.A., or with me or moi (as they say in France). Rather, it’s a mystery who a mid-1980’s Toronto area band called M.O.I. were.
I recently bought a used record put out in 1985 by Toronto radio station Q107 as part of a series they did back then called Homegrown. A mix of hair metal bands, barroom rock and new-waveish acts, most forgotten now, Homegrown Volume Seven also contains a song called “South of the Sun” credited to our mystery group, who went by the name (at least for this album) of M.O.I.
For me, it’s by far the best song on the album – a sharply played slice of reggae-inflected guitar rock, not unlike the Police or other bands at the time such as The Fixx. It also reminds me a lot of the English Beat’s 1980 “Mirror in the Bathroom.” Yeah, “South of the Sun” was strong enough to be a hit, even if just in Canada. But, try doing an Internet search for any info on the song or the band and you’ll come up empty (at least I have). Was this a one-off band that only recorded this one song? Were they just so obscure that all traces of them have disappeared all these years later? All very strange in this information age that they should be so ghost-like.
Perhaps it’s a cover up, maybe there was a secret code in the song that the government didn’t want anyone to discover. Or maybe M.O.I. were really visitors from another planet and this was the only proof we had that they were really here! After all, the picture of them on the back cover of the Q107 compilation shoes some geese on what appears to be the surface of the sun. Or maybe there was some kind of scandal that necessitated the erasure of all evidence the band ever existed! But they forgot about this compilation appearance…even now, agents the world over may be trying to buy up all copies of Homegrown Volume Seven. But they didn’t count on me getting a copy first! Ha ha ha [triumphant laughter]!!
M.O.I = “Modular Orthopedic Inserts”? “Modus Operandi International”…. “Modus Operandi Invictus”? “Modern Oregano Injector”?