Of the four artists who made the transition from hard or glam rock in the 1970s to heavy metal in the 1980s, at least in the minds of non-believers, Blue Oyster Cult’s album “Fire of Unknown Origin” is the one album that didn’t pass me by unnoticed. Once again, I have the marines to thank for that, pulling barracks security watch on the graveyard shift on a Saturday night. I also have to thank the radio station WXQR in Jacksonville, North Carolina for their Saturday Night Six Pack show where six albums were played in their entirety starting at midnight on Saturday nights. Old age, I said all this when I visited the Danny Joe Brown Band, but yes, it was here where I got to first listen to this great album, (and I do mean great) from Blue Oyster Cult.
First, I can now certainly reassure my fellow blogger Heavy Metal Overload that the track “Veteran of 1000 Psychic Wars” is the same on this album as it is on the soundtrack to “Heavy Metal” and a good track it is. “Burning For You” is the single from the track and I mention this because it appears on a compilation album I bought five and a half years ago and I was glad that it was any other B.O.C. song than “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” I think I have that song on at least three compilation discs. It’s still a good jam nonetheless.
If someone was to listen to just the opening and closing tracks on “Fire of Unknown Origin,” they may be tempted to think that Blue Oyster Cult had gone a bit progressive rock. The keyboard intro on the title track may give that feel and “Don’t Turn Your Back” almost sounds like a lounge act track, that is until it unleashes what is in my mind, the best guitar solo on the album. However, in between them is some great hard rock tunes like the two I’ve already mentioned, “Sole Survivor” and “Heavy Metal, The Black and the Silver.” That is taking nothing away from the tracks “After Dark” and “Vengeance, the Pact.”
Some of you are screaming inside about the one track I haven’t mentioned yet and that is because I’m saving the best for last, at least I think so. Blue Oyster Cult has a reputation for writing quirky songs and none can be quirkier than “Joan Crawford.” First, I love that piano intro, it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it and the lyrics: “Policemen hide behind the skirts of little girls” and the first line of the second verse, “Catholic school girls throw away their mascara.” Pure genius. Saying that, I still prefer the live version of this song but you will have to wait till I visit that live album in 1982 to find out why.
1. Fire Of Unknown Origin
2. Burning For You
3. Veteran of 1000 Psychic Wars
4. Sole Survivor
5. Heavy Metal, The Black and the Silver
6. Vengeance, The Pact
7. After Dark
8. Joan Crawford
9. Don’t Turn Your Back
Eric Bloom- lead vocals
Donald Buck Dharma Roeser- lead guitar, lead vocals
Alan Lanier- keyboards
Joe Bouchard- bass
Albert Bouchard- drums, percussion
I have always considered “Fire of Unknown Origin” one of the best Blue Oyster Cult albums. For me, it marked a genuine attempt to return to the glory days of albums like “Agents of Fortune.” I leave you all to debate if it how well it does but for me, it came pretty close. Besides, it did get me through that graveyard shift that Saturday night.
Next post: Kiss- Music From, “The Elder”
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