FC 37389 Fire of Unknown Origin
Produced by Martin Birch
Released on June 1981
Find it at GEMM
FC 37389 cover  

N o one likes to be the first one clapping in a quiet audience, but we all have to go out on a limb some time, so here goes: Fire of Unknown Origin is the best BOC album I own. At this stage in their career, bands are supposed to be running out of steam, but here for the first time the whole thing finally makes sense to me. The literate science fiction lyrics, the different songwriters, the pretensions to heavy metal… I finally get it. This has everything I could want in a BOC album: the brilliant Buck Dharma single (“Burnin’ For You”), the crunching guitars (“Heavy Metal: The Black And Silver”), the spooky subject matter (“Veteran of the Psychic Wars,” “Joan Crawford”). It’s all here, folks. I liked their last record too, which was also produced by Martin Birch, but important things have changed that make Fire of Unknown Origin better. The cookie cutter verse/chorus arrangements are abandoned, returning to the sprawling and epic sound that was always BOC’s strength. Birch still reins the boys in, clipping their wings a bit to keep the album at a consistent level, but there’s no question that this is BOC’s baby from beginning to end. Allen Lanier in particular seems to have risen from the dead, permeating the music much as Tony Banks did in Genesis (bet you didn’t see that analogy coming). In the final analysis, however, it’s the quality of the material that won me over. I actually like every song on here, which was near impossible on past BOC albums because the songs all sounded so different. Fire of Unknown Origin keeps the discussion neatly within the spooky, mysterious sci-fi camp, and s’more than fair to say they entered the new decade without a trace of decadence.

FC 37389 back cover FC 37389 picture sleeve
FC 37389 back cover FC 37389 picture sleeve


  1. FIRE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN    (Joe Bouchard/Patti Smith/Eric Bloom/Albert Bouchard/Donald Roeser)    4:09
  2. BURNIN' FOR YOU    (Donald Roeser/Richard Meltzer)    4:29
  3. VETERAN OF THE PSYCHIC WARS    (Eric Bloom/Michael Moorcock)    4:48
  4. SOLE SURVIVOR    (Eric Bloom/John Trivers/Liz Myers)    4:04
  5. HEAVY METAL: THE BLACK AND SILVER    (Albert Bouchard/Eric Bloom/Sandy Pearlman)    3:16
  6. VENGEANCE (THE PACT)    (Albert Bouchard/Joe Bouchard)    4:40
  7. AFTER DARK    (Eric Bloom/John Trivers/Liz Myers)    4:24
  8. JOAN CRAWFORD    (Albert Bouchard/D. Roter/J. Rigg)    4:54
  9. DON'T TURN YOUR BACK    (Allen Lanier/Donald Roeser/Albert Bouchard)    4:07

    Arranged by Blue Oyster Cult


ERIC BLOOM -- lead vocals, bass (5)
ALBERT BOUCHARD -- drums, synthesizer, vocals
JOE BOUCHARD -- bass, vocals
ALLEN LANIER -- keyboards
DONALD (BUCK DHARMA) ROESER -- lead guitar, vocals, bass/sound effects (8), additional percussion (3)
Tony Cedrone -- additional percussion (3)
Bill Civitella -- additional percussion (3)
Karla DeVito -- background vocal (4)
Sandy Jean -- background vocal (9)
Jesse Levy -- string arrangements (3,8)
Martin Birch -- engineer
Clay Hutchinson -- engineer
Greg Scott -- front and back cover artwork
Paula Scher -- sleeve design

return to BLUE OYSTER CULT discography

US June 1981 Columbia LP/CS FC 37389 picture sleeve
UK/NET June 1981 CBS LP/CS 85137 picture sleeve
JPN 1981 CBS/Sony LP 25AP-2096 picture sleeve, lyric insert
US 1984 Columbia LP PC 37389  
US/CAN   Columbia CD CK 37389  
EUR 1980s Sony CD 468183  



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