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Pavlov's Dog - Pampered Menial CD (album) cover

PAMPERED MENIAL

Pavlov's Dog

 

Crossover Prog

4.07 | 337 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 150

Pavlov's Dog is an American progressive rock band formed in 1972 in Saint Louis, Missouri, out of the ashes of a local cover band called High On A Small Hill, formerly of the minor folk-rock act Touch. Originally Pavlov's Dog was composed by David Surkamp, Steve Levin, Mike Safron, Rick Stockton, David Hamilton, Doug Rayburn and Siegfried Carver, who was born Richard Nadler. Levin left the group and was replaced by another Steve, this time Steve Scorfina.

For those who aren't familiar with this group, one of the most important characteristics on the Pavlov's Dog sound is their vocals. Their front man Surkamp owns a very peculiar and strange voice usually compared with Geddy Lee's voice from Rush. So, for those who don't know the band yet and don't like Lee's voice, compared by many as a sound of strangling a cat, certainly Pavlov's Dog isn't the best band that they are looking for. Anyway, their music style was very song based and actually not all that far from some British bands but still with an American touch into their sound.

"Pampered Menial" is their debut studio album and was released in 1974. The line up on the album is David Surkamp (vocals and rhythm guitar), Steve Scorfina (lead guitar), Rick Stockton (bass guitar), David Hamilton (organ and piano), Doug Rayburn (mellotron and flute), Mike Safron (drums and percussion) and Siegfried Carver (violin, viola and vitar, a cross between a guitar and a violin). However, Carver left Pavlov's Dog soon after the album was released.

Here it's an interesting story about the release of "Pampered Menial". When the album was released, it was briefly released on ABC Records and quickly re-issued by Columbia Records. The final result was that both versions of the album appeared at the same time in the same stores, which became a little bit confused for many people in those times.

"Pampered Menial" has nine tracks. The first track "Julia" written by Surkamp is one of my favourite songs on the album and is an excellent track to open it. This is a very simple ballad, very beautiful, with a nice piano work in the starting of the song and it has also an interesting acoustic guitar work. The second track "Late November" written by Scorfina and Surkamp is a very good song, simple, very melodic and melancholic as the month mentioned on it. This is a light rock song perfectly well commanded by the mellotron sound. The third track "Song Dance" written by Safron is a fabulous song and is my favourite track on the album and is also, for me, one of the best compositions made by the group. It's a great rock classic song, very progressive and it has fantastic individual musical performances by all bands' members and where Surkamp's unique voice reaches its maximum. This is a real must for our ears. The fourth track "Fast Gun" written by Surkamp is a beautiful song with good instrumentation commanded by violin. However, it's far from being one of my favourite tracks on the album. The fifth track "Natchez Trace" written by Scorfina is a typical oriented hard rock song and sincerely is probably, from my point of view, the weakest song on the album. The sixth track "Theme From Subway Sue" written by Surkamp is another good and nice song with a fantastic and beautiful piano work. This is a song that sounds like a classic rock song with a very great vocal work. This is really a great track. The seventh track "Episode" written by Surkamp is another good and nice song with a nice piano and violin works, very well commanded by Surkamp's voice, with the mellotron sounding at the background. This is also a great song. The eighth track "Preludin" written by Carver is the shortest song on the album and opens the way to the last track on the album. Despite being a short track, it's, in my humble opinion, one of the best on the album, and is a totally progressive song. It's a song that reminds me Gentle Giant, with classical and medieval musical influences and with great orchestration. This is another fantastic track. The ninth track "Of Once And Future Kings" written by Surkamp is a good and nice track to close this very interesting album. This is a song with very good individual musical performances by all members of the band with the mellotron sound at the background, and as usual, it has also a very good orchestration.

Conclusion: Like most of us know, in the 70's, the progressive rock music was practically a European phenomenon. So, it was with some great expectations that, at the time, I saw the birth of some progressive rock bands out of Europe, such as Kansas, Starcastle, Blue Oyster Cult, Pavlov's Dog and of course Rush. Despite, I only bought this album few years ago, but I know it since 1974, the year it was released, I confess that I always loved this group, and particularly this album, which I always considered a fantastic musical work. But I know this is a band and an album that isn't for everyone. This isn't one of the most progressive albums, but sincerely who cares, when we are faced with an album of great, simple and unpretentious music like "Pampered Menial". Sincerely and for my taste, I think Pavlov's Dog made a very powerful and balanced album which deserves to be discovered and appreciated without any mental reservation and preconceived opinions. It appeals to progressive rock fans that enjoy strong melodies without great complexity.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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