Fire of Unknown Origin

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Fire of Unknown Origin
Cover art by Greg Scott
Studio album by Blue Öyster Cult
Released July 1981 (1981-07)
Recorded Kingdom Sound Studios, Long Island, New York
The Automatt, San Francisco, California, 1981
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 39:06
Label Columbia
Producer Martin Birch
Blue Öyster Cult chronology
Cultösaurus Erectus
Fire of Unknown Origin
Extraterrestrial Live
Singles from Fire of Unknown Origin
  1. "Burnin' for You / Vengeance (The Pact)"
    Released: July, 1981
  2. "Burnin' for You / Heavy Metal: the Black and Silver"
    Released: September 1981
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Martin Popoff 9/10 stars[2]

Fire of Unknown Origin is the eighth album by the American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult, released in 1981. It was produced by Martin Birch.

The album, which included the Top 40 hit "Burnin' for You" (#1 on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart) represented a resurgence of the group's commercial standing after two albums with disappointing sales. Fire of Unknown Origin would be the final studio LP featuring the band's original lineup until 1988's Imaginos; during the subsequent tour, the band fired original drummer Albert Bouchard.

The album continues BÖC's tendency to write quirky songs, from the title track (featuring lyrics by Patti Smith) to "Joan Crawford". Many of the songs were intended for the soundtrack of the animated film Heavy Metal, such as "Vengeance (The Pact)", whose lyrics follow in detail the plot of the "Taarna" segment of the movie. However, only the song "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" (which, ironically, was not written for Heavy Metal), co-written by science fiction author Michael Moorcock, ended up in the film's final version and soundtrack.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Fire of Unknown Origin"   Joe Bouchard, Patti Smith, Eric Bloom, Albert Bouchard, Donald Roeser 4:09
2. "Burnin' for You"   Roeser, Richard Meltzer 4:29
3. "Veteran of the Psychic Wars"   Bloom, Michael Moorcock 4:48
4. "Sole Survivor"   Bloom, John Trivers, Liz Myers 4:04
5. "Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver"   A. Bouchard, Bloom, Sandy Pearlman 3:16
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Vengeance (The Pact)"   A. Bouchard, J. Bouchard 4:41
7. "After Dark"   Bloom, Trivers, Myers 4:25
8. "Joan Crawford"   A. Bouchard, David Roter, Jack Rigg 4:55
9. "Don't Turn Your Back"   A. Bouchard, Allen Lanier, Roeser 4:07
Total length:


Band members
Additional musicians
  • Karla DeVito – background vocals on track 4
  • Sandy Jean – background vocals on track 9
  • Bill Civitella, Tony Cedrone – additional percussion on track 3
  • Jesse Levy – strings on tracks 3 and 8
  • Martin Birch – producer, engineer, mixing
  • Clay Hutchinson – engineer
  • Paul Stubblebine – mastering
  • Greg Scott – album artwork



Year Chart Position
1981 Billboard 200 (North America)[4] 24
UK Album Chart[5] 29


Year Title Chart Position
1981 "Burnin' for You" Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[6] 1
"Joan Crawford" 49
"Veteran of the Psychic Wars" 24
"Vengeance (The Pact)" 16
"Fire of Unknown Origin" 11
"Burnin' for You" Billboard Hot 100 (North America)[6] 40

Sales Certifications[edit]

Year Country Organization Sales
1982 U.S. RIAA Gold (500,000+)[7]
Canada CRIA Gold (50,000+)[8]


  1. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Blue Öyster Cult Fire of Unknown Origin review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5. 
  3. ^ Popoff, Martin (March 2009). "Fire of Unknown Origin". Blue Öyster Cult: Secrets Revealed! (2 ed.). Toronto, Canada: Power Chord Press. pp. 169–170. ISBN 0-9752807-0-8. 
  4. ^ "Fire of Unknown Origin Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  5. ^ "Fire of Unknown Origin Chart Stats". Chart Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Fire of Unknown Origin Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  7. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Fire of Unknown Origin". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  8. ^ "Gold Platinum Database – Title: Fire of Unknown Origin". Music Canada. Retrieved 2012-01-15.