Fire of Unknown Origin

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Fire of Unknown Origin
Fire Of Unknown origin.jpg
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
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
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal9/10[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; 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 was not written for Heavy Metal), co-written by science fiction author Michael Moorcock, ended up in the film's final version and soundtrack.

The album's closing track, "Don't Turn Your Back", marks Allen Lanier's final songwriting contribution to Blue Öyster Cult; it was played live by the group for the first time on June 17, 2016, at a special concert highlighting Lanier's music.[3]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Fire of Unknown Origin"Eric Bloom, Albert Bouchard, Joe Bouchard, Donald Roeser, Patti SmithBloom4:09
2."Burnin' for You"Roeser, Richard MeltzerRoeser4:29
3."Veteran of the Psychic Wars"Bloom, Michael MoorcockBloom4:48
4."Sole Survivor"Bloom, Liz Myers, John TriversBloom4:04
5."Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver"Bloom, A. Bouchard, Sandy PearlmanBloom3:16
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
6."Vengeance (The Pact)"A. Bouchard, J. BouchardJ. Bouchard, Roeser4:41
7."After Dark"Bloom, Myers, TriversBloom4:25
8."Joan Crawford"A. Bouchard, Jack Rigg, David RoterBloom, A. Bouchard4:55
9."Don't Turn Your Back"A. Bouchard, Allen Lanier, RoeserRoeser4:07
Total length:39:06


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 – string arrangements 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 (United States) 24[5]
UK Album Chart 29[6]
RPM50 (Canada) 21[7]


Year Name Peak chart positions
1981 Burnin' For You 40 1 47 76
Joan Crawford 49
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Sales Certifications[edit]

Year Country Organization Sales
1982 U.S. RIAA Gold (500,000+)[9]
Canada CRIA Gold (50,000+)[10]


  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. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Popoff, Martin (March 2009). "Fire of Unknown Origin". Blue Öyster Cult: Secrets Revealed! (2 ed.). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Power Chord Press. pp. 169–170. ISBN 0-9752807-0-8. 
  5. ^ "Fire of Unknown Origin Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  6. ^ "Fire of Unknown Origin Chart Stats". Chart Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  7. ^ "RPM Weekly". RPM. Retrieved 2017-12-17. 
  8. ^ Canadian peak
  9. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Fire of Unknown Origin". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  10. ^ "Gold Platinum Database – Title: Fire of Unknown Origin". Music Canada. Retrieved 2012-01-15. [permanent dead link]