Call me suspicious; cynical, even. But ever since spook-novelist Stephen King dropped a few pearls in Blue Oyster Cult's pockets, quoting their 1976 hit "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" in his book "The Stand," I've been waiting for these purveyers of epic mediocrity of respond with the inevitable soundtrack for one of King's made-for-cinema terror tomes. "Fire of Unknown Origin" isn't a soundtrack, but it's a good aural background for the author's latest paperback attacks.

The first three tracks (four, if you count the apre -holocaust "Sole Survivor") deal extensively with fire -- fire as emotion, sex, death, etc. The best of these is "Burnin' For You," a growling lust-rocker that acchieves its second level only if one listens to it in terms of some of King's more memorable pyromaniacs.

Not that BOC doesn't have its own way with evil; It's the only group so far to make death statistics sound downright erotic, which is more than their satan-baiting soulmate has been able to do. Trouble is, they're still hung up on the same boring shtick they've been using for a decade: sci-fi, vampirism and all that other-worldly jazz.

It's only when they deal with the authentic horros of planet Earth that BOC's humor comes shining through, as in "Joan Crawford (Has Risen From the Grave)." Guaranteed to raise a scream (of laughter), "Joan" what-ifs the return of a real-life monster with sketches of police "hiding behind the skirts of little girl's while Mommie Dearest stalks the playround, her "eyes turned the color of frozen meat." That's right, frozen meat.

Which bring us to Foghat. This humorless lump of rusty metal has been in the deep-freeze since its 1972 hit, "I Just Want to Make Love to You," which was hauled out for leftovers in 1977. The rest has been a string of near-misses, including the grinding "Slow Ride" and the self-descriptive "Fool for the City."

Like all of Foghat's albums over the last decade, "Girls to Chat and Boys to Bounce" offers the two or three cuts that will keep the teens twitching and the record company shelling out the cash, but the rest is all filler. The two here are "Live Now -- Pay Later," an AM rocker, and "Wide Boy," a song about a fatty that's as humorous as Foghat ever gets.

Besides the fact that Lonesome Dave can't sing and drummer Roger Earl can't keep a beat, it's hard to draw a bead on the exact reason for this group's protracted failure. Maybe it's lyrics like this: "My heart keeps growing fonder/I don't mean Henry and I don't mean Jane." Haw, haw!

Anybody got a light?


THE ALBUMS -- Blue Oyster Cult, "Fire of Unknown Origin," Columbia FC 37389; Foghat, "Girls to Chat and Boys to Bounce," Bearsville BRK 3578.

THE SHOW -- Saturday at 8 at the Capital Centre.