Pavlov's Dog – Pampered Menial (1974) (@320)
20 Feb 2007
(Review from allmusic.com, progarchives.com)
The artsy hard rock group Pavlov’s Dog spanned progressive music and heavy metal in much the same way that Rush did in its early days. Also like Rush, Pavlov’s Dog had a singer, David Surkamp, whose distinctive high-pitched voice was the group’s take-it-or-leave-it factor. Outside of a small cult following, most folks chose to leave it, but over the decades Pavlov’s Dog has remained a popular find for fans of the obscure end of American arena rock.
Pavlov’s Dog formed in St. Louis in 1972 out of the ashes of a local cover band called High on a Small Hill, with Surkamp, formerly of the minor folk-rock act Touch, on vocals and guitar, joined by lead guitarist Steve Scorfina; keyboardist David Hamilton; Mellotron and flute player Doug Rayburn; bassist Rick Stockton; drummer Mike Safron; and strings specialist Siegfried Carver (born Richard Nadler), who added violin, viola, and an odd hybrid instrument called a vitar (that sounded something like Eddie Phillips’ bowed guitar in the ’60s freakbeat heroes the Creation). The combination of flute, Mellotron, violin, and Scorfina’s guitar heroics led to some comparisons to David Cross-era King Crimson, though Pavlov’s Dog had a much more straight-ahead, less twisty sound.
Growing popularity on the Midwestern club circuit led to the band’s signing to ABC-Dunhill Records in 1975 (supposedly for a then-record 650,000 dollar advance, though that might have been press-release puffery) and the recording of their debut album, Pampered Menial. History is unclear as to exactly what happened next, but somehow, Pavlov’s Dog found themselves off of ABC-Dunhill and on Columbia Records almost immediately, with the result that Pampered Menial was released twice, almost simultaneously, on two different labels with exactly the same sleeve design and track lineup.
One of those very cherished debut album, Pavlov’s debut is one of those records that almost everyone should have. Needless to say that Surkamp’s incredible voice is the main asset, but it is hardly the only one. This is an album laced with loads of keyboards of every kind, but although the main feature, they never suffocate the music even if the mellotrons are mixed-in very loud. Don’t look for long epics on this slice of vinyl, as the longest track is just above the 5 min track (actually the record is fairly short, clocking in at less than 34 min), but Surkamp’s histrionics on vocals coupled with lush mellotron waves, underlined by a cool violin and Hamilton’s organs, synths and pianos, provide all the necessary drama a proghead is searching for.
- David Surkamp / lead vocals, guitar
- David Hamilton / keyboards
- Doug Rayburn / mellotron, flute
- Mike Safron / percussion
- Rick Stockton / bass guitar
- Siegfried Carver / violin, vitar, viola
- Steve Scorfina / lead guitar
01. Julia (3:10)
02. Late November (3:12)
03. Song Dance (4:59)
04. Fast Gun (3:04)
05. Natchez Trace (3:42)
06. Theme from Subway Sue (4:25)
07. Episode (4:04)
08. Preludin (1:39)
09. Of Once and Future Kings (5:27)
Link in comments.
about 3 years ago - 3 comments
(Review from revelationz.net) Solo album from the voice of Pavlov’s Dog, David Surkamp, ‘Dancing On The Edge Of A Teacup’, Surkamp is ably supported by longtime friend Billy Costello on drums and keys and by his wife Sara on bass. As ever, Surkamp’s music is unclassifiable. It soars through the pigeon holes, stopping momentarily at…
about 4 years ago - 3 comments
(Review from progarchives.com, allmusic) After Pavlov’s Dog’s break-up in 1978, Surkamp and Rayburn re-formed the band briefly in the late 80s with an otherwise new lineup, releasing the album “Lost in America” in 1990. “Lost in America” has little resemblance to what Pavlov’s Dog was about in the 70s. The album sounds streamlined, has the…
about 4 years ago - 9 comments
I’m deleting the old “Third” album post, since this new release finally gives the treat the album deserves. (Review from various internet sources) Carver left the group after the tour for the second album, leading the band to provisionally title their third album “Whatever Became of Siegfried?”. The original planned cover art was a wonderful…
about 6 years ago - 2 comments
(Review from progarchives.com) At The Sound Of The Bell’s structure is different from their previous album. It contains a collection of classic symphonic tracks. This is less dependent in Hard Rock’s guitar riffs (the guitar here is mainly solo work and some acoustic like in the melancholic Standing Here With You or in Valkerie) and…