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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Blue Oyster Cult - 1981 Fire Of Unknown Origin
Blue Oyster Cult - 1981 Fire Of Unknown Origin

ARTIST: Blue Oyster Cult
ALBUM: Fire Of Unknown Origin
SERIAL: FC 37389
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1986, Columbia, CK 37389


LINEUP: Eric Bloom - vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass * Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser - guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, bass, percussion, sound effects, vocals * Allen Lanier - keyboards, bass, guitar, vocals * Joe Bouchard - bass, guitar, piano, vocals * Albert Bouchard - drums, synthesizer, guitar, harmonica, vocals

Guests: Tony Cedrone, Bill Civitella - percussion * Sandy Jean, Karla DeVito, Ellen Foley - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fire Of Unknown Origin * 02 Burnin' For You * 03 Veteran Of The Psychic Wars * 04 Sole Survivor * 05 Heavy Metal (The Black And Sliver) * 06 Vengeance (The Pack) * 07 After Dark * 08 Joan Crawford * 09 Don't Turn Your Back


As I write this article in early 2013, BOC have just had their entire Columbia Records discography reissued as a boxset. Many of us are excited by this prospect; 16 CD's, 1 DVD and access to 4 live concerts off the Internet. Talk about a musical feast! So, to coincide with this event, it's timely that we mop up the remainder of BOC's albums which we haven't written about yet. The other day, I completed work on 'The Revolution By Night', an album I hadn't played much over the years and I kick myself for not doing so. Heading back into their history we look at 1981's 'Fire Of Unknown Origin', an album which surprised many at the time as it performed quite well on the charts given the strength of other AOR acts during this timeframe that dominated both the singles and album charts.

The Songs
Heading out onto the highway, the title track is the first vehicle out of the parking bay; a radio friendly affair with bright sounding synths making sonic intrusions here and there. 'Burnin' For You' was the album's single, making it to #40 on the Billboard Charts. its a useful kinda tune but fairly basic in structure too. What can I tell you about 'Veteran Of The Psychic Wars'? Stranger than strange perhaps? Lyrically yes but the song is a regimented piece that has all the hallmarks of a Russia or Force 10 number. 'Sole Survivor' by comparison is straight ahead stuff though the lyrics too are kinda out there.. fatalistic even. 'Heavy Metal - Black And Silver' sounds like a yarn from a sci-fi space flick (perhaps it is?). There is a recurring motif throughout 'Vengeance (The Pact)' that gives it a haunting near dark quality. Wait for the surprise change in tempo toward the end. 'After Dark' could be power pop on amphetamines especially with those chirpy keyboards blazing away. Returning to another audio curio, what does one think of 'Joan Crawford'? The sound effects in the middle section is wacky beyond wacky! The chorus line 'Joan Crawford has risen from the grave' will surely have had the former silver screen starlet raising a set of furrowed eyebrows in disbelief! It could be a horror movie written for music.. Thankfully the album finishes on a note of normalcy. Don't Turn Your Back' settles this album's account square on and straight ahead.

In Summary
Long time fans have enjoyed this album judging from an observation of comments scattered all over the Internet. Persoanlly, I'm not that convinced. I never really got their disturbed view of life represented in their songs and lyrics. I much prefer some of their other albums both before and after this one, particularly when the material is a bit more straight-forward. But then again, BOC could never ever be accused of being straight-forward..

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#1 | Eric on February 16 2013 04:13:46
Agree, this record has never thrilled me like the early BOC releases. After the '83 album, my interest waned considerably.
#2 | gdazegod on February 16 2013 04:25:36
YouTube Video:
#3 | Jez on February 16 2013 12:49:58
This is one of my fave BOC release and would have surpassed 'Cultosarus Erectus' if it weren't for a couple of below par tracks later on (Heavy Metal - The Black and Silver, 'After Dark' ) but besides those,this is a great album throughout and another must have album in the BOC library. Nice to hear a nice shiny and much needed remaster on the version in the box set (as with all the other later albums) too.
#4 | tompa on February 17 2013 12:30:13
Definitely my fave BOC album as well. One of those rare albums on which every track deserves a place. No fillers.
#5 | AOR Lee on February 18 2013 04:49:10
Strong album, despite the bizarre subject matter in places. Very AOR friendly for the most part, enjoyed the review
#6 | super80boy on January 07 2017 14:11:26
On this album, BOC complete the transition from 70's progressive rockers to more mainstream arena rockers, but they do it without giving in and sacrificing their creative artistry that got them to this point. The listener will find strong deeper cuts, like hard rockers 'Vengeance' and 'Heavy Metal', the quirky new waver 'After Dark' and should have been 2nd album single 'Sole Survivor'. This album has aged very well.
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