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Blue Öyster Cult

Fire Of Unknown Origin

Review by Greg Olma

Back in 1981, Blue Oyster Cult was riding the wave of rock's "second coming". Having just completed a successful tour with Black Sabbath, the boys went back into the studio to record their next batch of songs and to try to keep themselves in the public eye. I remember thinking that BOC had crafted one of the best metal albums ever. Well, I can chalk that up to foolish youth. Don't get me wrong, I still think it is a good album; it's just that not all of the material has aged well. The album/tour/album/tour schedule did take it's toll. A few of the songs seem like they were rushed into the studio just so they could fill up 2 sides of vinyl. Having said that, Blue Oyster Cult has never made a clunker of an album. Each record has had more than its share of highlights and this disc is no different.

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Track by Track Review
Fire Of Unknown Origin
Eric Bloom starts off this CD with a BOC rocker that sounds like it could have come from the Cultosaurus Erectus sessions. There is also a twin guitar lead that has that patented Thin Lizzy sound. Keyboards have always been a big part of the Blue Oyster Cult sound and they are in the forefront on this track.
Burnin' For You
If you have not heard this song, you must have spent the last 25 years in a cave. This cut is one of the less keyboard driven songs on the album. Buck Dharma sings this radio friendly track that is still a huge hit for them.
Veteran of the Psychic Wars
This number has that undeniable Blue Oyster Cult sound. I find that Eric Bloom's vocals play a bigger part of that sound than Buck's. Allen Lanier dominates this song with his keyboards. There is a nice guitar solo in the middle but otherwise, the guitars are placed in the background.
Sole Survivor
A little bit of bass, compliments of Joe Bouchard, starts off this track. This could have been a hit single if it weren't for the fact that Eric's voice has less of the "pop friendly" sound that Buck's vocals seem to have in abundance.
Heavy Metal: The Black And Silver
This is the most metal song on the album. It should come as no surprise then that Eric Bloom sings this cut also. It is the shortest piece, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. Guitars dominate this track throughout.
Vengeance (The Pact)
There are parts of this cut that have a bit of a Beatles feel. It is by far the oddest song on the disc and that is what makes it a great Blue Oyster Cult track. BOC have always made music that defied labeling. That may have hurt their record sales a bit but to the die-hards, this is exactly what made them special.
After Dark
The keyboards give this track more of a light-hearted 80's feel. The other parts of this song are darker making the keyboards sound out of place. This is what you would get if you mixed Blue Oyster Cult with The Cars. Of all the cuts on offer here, this is by far the worst.
Joan Crawford
Classical piano starts off this BOC classic. Piano, and not the group's traditional electronic type keyboards, is used throughout this track but that doesn't mean it's not a rocker. It has all the elements that make up a great Blue Oyster Cult song; weird lyrics, melodic guitar work, and sound effects. I dare anyone to not get creeped out by the haunting whispers of "Christina, mother's home."
Don't Turn Your Back
Keyboards dominate this repetitive track that really goes nowhere. It's not a bad song; it just needs that something extra. I would have switched the order of the album to end on "Joan Crawford."
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