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Pavlov's Dog

Crossover Prog

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Pavlov's Dog Pampered Menial album cover
4.08 | 398 ratings | 48 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Julia (3:10)
2. Late November (3:12)
3. Song Dance (4:59)
4. Fast Gun (3:04)
5. Natchez Trace (3:42)
6. Theme from Subway Sue (4:25)
7. Episode (4:04)
8. Preludin (1:39)
9. Of Once and Future Kings (5:27)

Total Time 33:42

Line-up / Musicians

- David Surkamp / lead vocals, guitar
- Steve Scorfina / lead guitar
- David Hamilton / keyboards
- Doug Rayburn / Mellotron, flute
- Siegfried Carver / violin, Vitar, viola
- Rick Stockton / bass
- Mike Safron / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Detail of "Low Life" painting by Edwin Landseer (1802-1873)

LP ABC Records ‎- ABCD-866 (1975, US)
LP Columbia ‎- PC 33552 (1975, US) Slightly different cover

CD CBS ‎- CDCBS 32480 (1988, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy PAVLOV'S DOG Pampered Menial Music

PAVLOV'S DOG Pampered Menial ratings distribution

(398 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PAVLOV'S DOG Pampered Menial reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Great idea to include this underrated USA band in Prog Archives and specially this album, which IMHO is even better than their so called magnum opus "At the Sound of the Bell".

The first doubt I have is in which sub genre of prog rock include Pavlov's Dog, sincerely I don't know exactly, but neither I agree when most of the people qualifies this band and album as neo prog', I believe "Pavlov's Dog" is so special and unique that defies any categorization, they are one of their kind. It's also important to remember that "Pampered Menial" was released in 1974, when Neo Prog' didn't even existed.

The second problem is how to describe David Surkamp's voice? I can only attempt to compare him with Geddy Lee's using extra helium and singing in the trembling style of the magnificent Edith Piaff. Of course his voice is not naturally gifted but the guy transmits different feelings and moods, something very important for a good vocalist. You may love or hate David, but once you heard him singing you'll never forget the experience.

David Hamilton and Doug Rayburn do an almost perfect work with keyboards and mellotron respectively but if you add Sigfried Carver's talent with violin and viola, you've got a special band. The drums and Guitar by Mick Safron and Steve Scorfina are not spectacular but very much over the average.

The album starts with "Julia" a simple ballad that the band manages to make complex and beautiful, with a great piano opening followed by David's unique vocals surrounded by acoustic guitar. Through all the song each member adds something extra including flute and correct drumming, an excellent way to start a very good album.

"Late November" is a faster track with a simple melody ideal for vocals and well complemented by the drums and guitar, also good song but not in the level of "Julia".

"Song Dance" is much more classic rock oriented, percussion and bass are used to start the song but suddenly a strong guitar completes the atmosphere, reminds me of some REM tracks specially from "Out of Time" but David's particular voice and carver's violin break the effect leading the tune towards a harder edge.

"Fast Gun" always confuses me, it's a strange song that pretends to have a Far West atmosphere but they never fully develop the concept, getting lost in the middle because of Surkamp's specially fast vocals and the violin plus a really weird instrumentation, never knew where they tried to take us but I like this chaos. Not a masterpiece but can be listened.

"Natchez Trance" can be described as another hard rock oriented song, which IMO is the weakest of the album, the vocals are totally out of place with the early Rock & Roll piano and drums. They missed the shot.

The next track is "Theme for Subway Sue", an interesting song with full instrumentation and very good piano, the backing vocals create a special effect very pleasant that collisions with the hard guitar, another high point.

Episode starts with heart breaking violin and vocals that match perfectly, anybody will describe it as a simple ballad, which would be accurate, but there's something special, a sad melancholic atmosphere of sad beauty, the piano reminds me a little of Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf composer) but much more elaborated.

"Preludin", for some people the best track of the album, an instrumental that starts with a violin semi solo similar to early Kansas, with some druggy mood (remember Preludin is a derivate of amphetamine), this short tracks works as an intro for the closer "Of Once and Future Kings" which begins with a beautiful guitar and vocal section that suddenly changes with an ultra fast piano and unusual low vocals that are cut by another sad violin section, at the end David Surkamp reaches very high ranges almost not audible for any two legged being, all with the company of an almost psychedelic guitar.

Pavlov's Dog is not for everybody, but neither is progressive rock. I encourage people to try this album, because it's one of the most powerful American bands that I ever listened, if you like it will be for ever.

Review by TRoTZ
4 stars The debut album, quite original for that time, fuses hard rock small tracks from LED ZEPPELIN but mostly DEEP PURPLE (even if the riff dependence is not as great) with classical symphonic passages. One thing that jumps out of your mind when you start listening is David Surkamp's voice which, depending on the listener's taste, can be irritating or beautiful. But one thing is certain: it's unique: it transmits a lot of emotion, more than words can say.

In general, all tracks obey to this paradigm: good melodies with good guitar riffs intercalated with little but beautiful instrumental proger passages (fine flutes, complex piano arrangements all over, emotional violin, mellotron, guitars.). All tracks are at the same level, it's difficult to figure the highlights but the mellow ballad Julia, Late November where you can see clearly forthcoming bands inspiration like PREFAB SPROUT; Song Dance with its violin solo; Fast Gun for its nice violin and organ arrangement; and the complex Of Once and Future Kings with its crazy jazzy piano arrangements, soft violins and flutes, melody transitions, ending perfectly the album!

Not being as progressive at that as Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson and whatsoever, this album is very nice to listen and as I said, somewhat different, it has a different style from those other pioneer bands. If you like classical hard rock and don't get noised by the singer's voice, you should have this album in your collection!

My rate: 7/10

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a memorable album this one is. When I first knew the band sometime in mid 70s I just thought that it's another rock band. I still remember clearly that the album opener "Julia" was once becoming a radio hit where one radio regularly aired this song. The voice quality of David Surkamp is really unique; it reminds me to the lead singer of Babe Ruth. The band's music is actually pretty straight forward with reltively simple structure with classical music and blues influence. The use of mellotron, violin and flute has sounded the music like a prog vein. Some tunes are prog in nature like for example "Song Dance" that has a combination of high register singing style and excellent orchestration and interlude that contains intertwining work of keyboard, guitar and violin. It's a great musical composition.

Under "Fast Gun" the band explores the use of orchestration even at the beginning of the track and let it follows the high octave singing. I think the approach taken by the band is excellent as merging the orchestra into the song has accentuated the song. Under "The Natchez Trace" the composition features the role of piano combined with organ and nice guitar followed with an inclusion of violin and mellotron in rocking style. WOW!

"Theme from Subway Sue" is a track of my favorite with a blues influence, great piano and guitar fills accompanying the powerful voice line. It sounds like a straight forward classic rock tune - structure wise. I really enjoy this track especially on high register notes of the lead singer. There is some light orchestra / mellotrons involved that make this song attractive. "Episode" starts off with a very nice violin, piano and vocal line in a mellow style. The music turns gradually loud with a mellotron sounds at background. The violin solo is really nice. "Preludin" is a short track (1:39) that demonstrates the classical music influence - great orchestration combined with mellotron sounds. "Of Once and Future Kings" concludes the album with a nice opening: guitar fills and voice line. The music flows continuously into full music with orchestration, piano touch (nice!) and as usual: mellotrons! It turns to a faster tempo with a jazzy piano style - good composition, performed in operatic style with accentuation of violin work and stunning guitar solo.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog collection. If you were there during the time this album was released - the glory years of rock music, the seventies, it's very likely you love this album. Or, probably you missed it as this album does not really "rock" musically. But it's an excellent composition. Keep on progging!!!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first thing to bear in mind when tackling Pavlov's Dog is that if you can't stand Rush singer Geddy Lee's vocals, you're going to hate the high-pitched and undeniably grating singing of Pavlov's Dog's lead vocalist/main songwriter David Surkamp. The second is that despite comprising seven members including two guitarists, two keyboardists (David Hamilton and melltronist Doug Rayburn who also doubles up on flute) and violinist Siegfried Carver, Pavlov's Dog's music never actually gets that complex. In fact there is a fair amount of verse chorus verse chorus songwriting going on here ... some of it though, is really beautiful.

If you can get past the "simplicity" of the music, Pampered Menial can be downright infectious. Julia is the relatively well-known acoustic ballad that kicks off the album, but I think it pales in comparison with the memorable Late November. Surkamp's refrain of "It just goes to show you never know" becomes a thing of power, as the band adds layer after layer of strings and keys to its pulsating chorus. Incidentally this album is produced by Blue Oyster Cult producers Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman and Late November does stray quite close to that group's sound.

The third track Song Dance is one of only three here that's not written by Surkamp and it is one of the more progressive tracks, featuring some bluesy riffing from lead guitarist Scott Scorfina. The fourth cut Fast Gun is mostly notable for the marching beat of the chorus and is pleasant enough. I'm not particularly fond of the fifth cut Natchez Trace which is written by Scorfina, even if it does contain one of Carver's best solos.

Theme From Subway Sue is another lovely Surkamp song that bears all the group's handmarks ... superb but restrained use of keyboards (piano and mellotron in this case) to infuse the song with lush depth. Surkamp's tragic vocals as the songs close may be a little too hysterical for some of you but they hit the spot for yours truly. And then there's Episode, in which Carver practically writes the book on how to accompany a ballad with violin lines, but once again the main song is really not much more than a ballad.

The final two pieces segue into each other, and feature the most progressive moments of the album. First we have Carver's sole composition for Pavlov's Dog, the intriguing multi-textural (and at 1:39 seconds, all too-brief) instrumental Preludin, before the band launches into yet another trademark Surkamp composition. Of Once And Future Kinds does benefit from having a number of distinct sections that features some lovely interplay between Carver and his counterparts on piano and guitar, ending in a suitably epic blowout.

Overall, Pampered Menial is a cohesive, but far from consistently progressive album that everyone should listen to at least thrice. Do not expect too much, and you will be rewarded. ... 70% on the MPV scale.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars One of those very cherished debut album and certainly a real pearl in the Archives, Pavlov's debut is one of those records that almost everyone should have, be they progheads or not. Out of the blue, the US Midwest actually pulled two real surprises as in the heartland of Country Rock, and Country-western, came Kansas and this completely unexpected Pavlov's Dog. 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.

This is maybe one of the most accomplished songwriting effort as there is so much happening on the different songs that you could not fit one more note without overflowing the bucket - well they are 7 in P'sD - and destroy the fragile beauty of this album. Most of you have heard Julia, but as you go down the rest of the album, there should at least two more tracks every proghead above 35, will have heard: Surkamp's voice almost resembling Grace Slick in the Jefferson Starship (and believe me this is one hell of a compliment) in Late November, and the violin/mellotron/guitar short duel in Song Dance should ring a bell, too. But all is not perfect on the album as I find that the pure RnR number Natchez Trace has a strange but not entirely convincing mellotron overdose (except in the middle break). One of the other slight remark I have, is that the quick succession of those relatively short tracks is rather diluting the contents a bit, as I would've rather they exploit some tracks/ideas to the fullest, something they only seem to achieve on Preludin/Of Once And Future Kings duo (7 min combined), but by that time, the record is almost over! Frustrating is it not?

The following album At The Sound Of The Bell is usually also very appreciated by progheads, but my opinion is that it does not come to the waist-height of this one, and if it was not for the two lengthier tracks (both just above the 5 min mark too) and Bill Bruford's guest appearance, it would not even reach ankle-height. Back to this album though, I always wondered if this album did not have loads of mellotrons, would it be so much appreciated by us progheads? Not that sure!!! But there are plenty of shivers on this album.

Review by WaywardSon
5 stars In the late seventies I quite clearly remember a friend of mine saing "Once you hear this, you will have to hear it again!" On first listening I was amazed that a man could actually reach such high notes! After listening to "Julia" I was hooked, David Surkamp has such "longing" in his voice that just makes this music beautiful and unique. On "Song Dance" he reaches incredible highs with his vocal range. "Theme from subway Sue" is probably my favourite song on this album, packed with emotional longing.

This is one album that you have to hear at least once every three months. I find myself longing to hear that emotionally charged unique voice! Once you hear this album you have to hear it again..and again.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hm...this is a tough one....first of all, let's try to describe the genre of music that band used to play. I would dare to call it "lite symphonic" - so, in a way, this is some sort of proto-neo-prog...oh, forget it. Let's focus on music. Which is not an easy task to do because, frankly, I don't know any other band that I can compare them with. Not because they are so unique in a peculiar way, or strange or "experimental". All the songs are concise, compact, poppy, but prog elements are evident everywhere. The singer got an unique voice, almost female at the moments. The song arrangements are gravitating towards the poppier side of rock, as I've said before, but they're so clever, lovely and tasteful that I wouldn't abandon this band only because of its pop tendencies. Actually, I love PAVLOV'S DOG a lot, and this album in particular. It's very intimate and emotional. It's a mellotrons galore. It's full of pretty love ballads. And overall sound is...well, this may sound stupid, and I know it's only my impression but...the overall soundscape of the album reminds me of some big city (NYC in particular) during the winter in the late seventies, and taxi cabs stuck in a traffic jam, covered with snow.

I won't go into deep analysis of the tracks and music itself, it sounds like a blasphemy to do such thing when I already mentioned that the album is very emotional. Just to let you know, "Julia" is gorgeous love ballad, "Song Dance" is not what tittle suggests, "Natchez Trace" is showing more hard-rocking side of the band, and "Preludin" is a lovely miniature...

It's quite possible that you won't appreciate this album very much - it's not terribly demanding. But it's undoubtedly charming, and everyone should definitively try it.

Review by Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Straight to the heart

I was looking for Gong like material, and particularly interested in the more jazzy stuff. When I posted a request for suggestions on the PA forums, among a lot of responses, there was also someone who pointed me to Pavlov's Dog's At the sound of the bell. That person might have been inspired by my thread title At the sound of the Gong, now that I think of it. The band and the album did not exactly fit in my quest, but I really did enjoy the album enough to also get their (presumably more progressive) debut, Pampered Menial. A good idea, given that it went straight to the heart, from the first note of the piano intro of Julia, right through to the fabulous instrumental mid-section of Song Dance and the varying rhythms of Fast Gun. After full speed Natchez Trace things slow down a bit to visit Subway Sue, after which we may enjoy the piano and mellotron driven Episode. Preludin is a nice intermezzo, showing off the mellotron and other non-standard rock instruments. The closing Of Once and Future Kings could have been an epic, if it wasn't limited to 5 and a half minutes. It consists of multiple parts, each with it's own tempo and main instruments. A better closing could not have been choosen for this album - it invites to replay right away.

In summary, this album contains a collection of very well written rock songs. The solid rock basis is brilliantly extended with layers of piano, mellotron, violin and flute to create pure magic. More pure rock can be found here than with a lot of other bands here in the archives - which is refreshingly beneficial in this case. And a final note on the vocals: their just another layer on top of the mix. If you don't like it, just get used to it, otherwise you'll miss out on some fabulous music. Fans of Geddy Lee won't have problem with David Surkamp I expect - although they each have very distinctive way of dealing with high pitch.

A very firm 4 star album from my point of view - get it, and loose your heart...

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars For my seven hundredth review, I could choose no better than "Pampered Menial". I do not really remember how and when I was first confronted with this album. Somewhere in 76 or so, on a loan basis. What's for sure is that it was love at first sight. Brilliant vocals, sublime harmonies, great fluting. So, so, SO different music.

Actually, this album is rather hard to categorize. It is just extraordinary. I re-discovered it in '78 when a friend of mine wanted me to listen to one of his album. We spent the whole afternoon hearing it : again and again. I finally purchase the CD edition, much, much later (in '96).

And the charm was always operating. Just like now, when I listen to it for this review. I should actually listen to it more often. It is such a great souvenir. Part of my flesh and bones actually.

I can only recommend this album to anyone interested in rock music. There are some vibrant keyboards and guitar passages here, lots of wonderful songs, to which "Julia" belongs of course. But this is only a fraction of the great numbers featured here.

My second fave and an incredibly devastating song is : "Song Dance". Oh, boy ! What a strenght ! These vocals ! Aaaaargh... It is a wild and extremely powerful song. Almost heavy at times. But the violin will temper this. Kansas reference is obvious. This song will knock you down, for sure. This is heaven.

Would you fancy a quieter and one of the most melodic one ? You'll get it : "Fast Gun" is there. Another highlight (but it is the third one out of four songs). What a great violin and keyboards play. And the voice. I am FULLY in love with it (but I can even imagine that some of you might be irritated. I really feel sorry for you, but that's not my case). Brilliant. I tell you.

Do you want a good rock'n'roll song ? You're being served : "Natchez Trace" will rock you over. Great piano. Great rhythm. Great song. Would you like and revert to a fabulous melody ? Just listen to "Theme From Subway Sue" and succumb. The finale is wonderful and wiiiiiiiild. Did you say highlight ?

Are you still hungry ? Anything else you need ? A great crescendo song maybe ? OK. No problem. Just listen to "Episode" and you should be fully satisfied. I suppose that a short instrumental break such as "Preludin" will do no harm, right ?

This album is of course very short, but once you have reached the great "Of Once And Future Kings" you can only be sad that the ride is already over. Only one feeling prevails. Let's go back to "Julia" and hear this fantastic album again.

When I listen to this gem, I can only deeply regret that due to health reasons I missed a concert that Pavlov's Dog was playing at the Spirit Of '66 in Verviers (June '07).

This album is full of emotional music, superb vocals, and sensational harmonies. Part of my youth is also involved so yes I am deeply in love with this masterpiece. Did you say five stars ?

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Fairly short, melodic and accessible songs with the focus being on the vocals. Surkamp's vocals are very similar to Geddy Lee's during the seventies, only with a warble. I think the vocals will make or break this album for most. I like them, but admit I tire of them before the album is over, probably because they are so prominant. Mellotron is all over this one, it's on every song.That should be a big plus for me but there is something about the tone of it that doesn't impress me like it usually does.

"Julia" is a ballad with some good lyrics like "You can't do much better than you, you said so yourself." Some flute before 2 minutes while piano and gentle guitar open the song. The singer sure can let it rip. "Late November" is better with prominant mellotron in this mid-paced song. I just like the way this one sounds. "Song Dance" features some raw sounding guitar and ripping vocals. Violin 3 minutes in.The vocals are probably the hardest to digest on this track. "Fast Gun" is too poppy in my opinion, not a fan. "Natchez Trace" is much better, sounding like RUSH's debut actually. Except for the piano, organ and violin of course.

"Theme From Subway Sue" has some nice sounding mellotron on it and tasteful guitar. It ends very passionantly. "Episode" is another favourite of mine. It opens with violin as reserved vocals come in. Just a good track with piano, drums and violin filling out the sound. "Preludin" is a short instrumental that sounds a little like KANSAS. "Of Once And Future Kings" is easily my favoutite song on here.The proggiest as well. This one is a ride with tempo and climate changes throughout. The guitar is outstanding. Perfect way to end the record.

I've listened to this over and over, but i'm not feeling it like most do. Mind you it wasn't part of my youth, this is my first experience with this band and album. Some great songs and some not so good songs. 3.5 stars.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pampered Menial was the first album from Pavlov's Dog and was released in 1974. A difficult album to categorise, the songs are melodic and tastefully played and arranged. Elements of Symphonic Prog are present and the occasional more riffy moment. They're all under 5 minutes in length (apart from one) so no long instrumental workouts and in the main not particularly complex either, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. However the band are still all fine musicians and play well throughout and can handle more technical arrangements if called for like on the short instrumental Preludin. The sound is augmented by the use of Violin and occasional Flute alongside the usual array of instruments you would expect most bands in the Prog field in the seventies to use.

What might be a major stumbling block for most people though is the high pitched and warbling tones of Vocalist/Guitarist David Surkamp; they're definitely an acquired taste. Anyone finding it hard to adjust to Geddy Lee's voice on the earlier Rush albums will certainly not warm to this guy. I've always been open to someone who sounds a bit different and feel he works well with the band though.

The material is strong throughout the album. Excellent Guitar playing with some lovely fluid soloing and wonderful acoustic Piano alongside Violin can be heard on tracks from the beautiful melody of album opener Julia, the heavier side of the band on Song Dance and Natchez Trace to the haunting Episode to name a few highlights. One of my favourite moment comes last though where the aforementioned short instrumental Preludin runs into final track, Of Once and Future Kings where the band get an opportunity to stretch out a bit.

Anyone who enjoys seventies Prog looking for something a bit different could do worse than check out this excellent band.

Review by fuxi
4 stars PAMPERED MENIAL has reaped a lot of praise on this site, and deservedly so. It is definitely a (minor) classic of 1970s prog. Even if you are into symphonic prog in general, your appreciation of the album will depend on your reaction to David Surkamp's lead vocals. They certainly are unusual, but if you're open-minded (and isn't that what Prog Archives is all about?) they will grow on you. Hell, some people enjoy Chinese opera (I certainly do) or even that guy Cedric from the Mars Volta! It's easy to make your mind up: this site wil let you listen to "Late November", perhaps MENIAL's most haunting track. If "Late November" is not for you, forget about the Pavlovs - no harm done!

But if you can cope with Surkamp, here's an entire CD of passionate, mellotron-drenched and guitar-driven sympho, which will remind you, at times, of early Crimso, of Jethro Tull at their most autumnal, and even of Genesis' "Mad Man Moon". It's an extraordinary mixture of delicacy, force, pathos and schmaltz... Hard to believe that even on their debut album Pavlov's Dog sounded so together and reached such peaks - something they'd never achieve again. As early as their second album, there was to be a disastrous falling-off in quality.

On PAMPERED MENIAL, however, everything works: dainty piano-playing lends a lot of grace to the music, the Martin Barre-like guitar breaks are inspired, the violin and occasional harpsichord both sound delightful, and as for the vocals... oh man, I play this music once a year at most, but on "Subway Sue" for example, where Surkamp really goes over the top, isn't that a most incredible moment, a superb "coup de theatre"? What a pity the Pavlovs never scaled these heights again.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Wow I must say I was surprised after listening to Pavlov´s Dog. Pampered Menial is actually pretty good prog rock with nice mellotron moments and even some hard rock riffing some places. Flute is also played on some of the songs.

The real treat here though is singer David Surkamp´s vocals which is just crazy. The last time I heard a vocal this crazy was when I listened to Airlord. The vocal styles of the two singers can´t be compared though. David Surkamp is really a great singer, try and imagine Geddy Lee inhaling helium before singing and on top of that David Surkamp has an extreme vibrato in his voice. What an original singing style. Totally over the top.

The music isn´t too bad either even though it´s not the best prog rock I ever heard. Music wise this is a pretty average prog rock album, but those vocals !!!

This is a sure 3 star album. I have to warn you though. Some of you will hate David Surkamp´s vocals because they are so extreme but on the other hand there will be people who like me will love this strange voice.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In spite of Pavlov's Dog being an American band - as a matter of fact, one of the few US prog bands that achieved some fame in the Seventies - "Pampered Menial" is a very European-sounding album, sophisticated and richly melodic, dominated by David Surkamp's Edith Piaf-influenced vocals. As to its prog quotient, here we are on very different territory from the classic bands that were active in the UK and continental Europe at the same time. There are no epics on this album - none of the tracks is longer than 5 minutes, and the song structures are fairly simple, especially if compared to what the likes of Yes or Genesis were putting out in those years. However, what we have here is no easy-listening masquerading as prog, but a hauntingly romantic, beautiful album that will provide a welcome respite from more aurally demanding fare. Contrary to what many people may think, it takes both skill and talent to write music that is at the same time pleasing to the ear, and valid from a compositional point of view.

Most prog fans are aware that David Surkamp's voice is definitely an acquired taste. Often compared to Geddy Lee, his vocals are not as aggressive as the Rush singer's at the beginning of their career, but rather poignant and emotionally vulnerable. The closest he comes to sounding like a more 'traditional' rock singer is on the album's rockiest track, the powerful, piano-driven "Natchez Trace". On other songs, Surkamp takes on the role of a lovelorn minstrel - notably on album opener "Julia", a gorgeous, romantic ballad drenched in piano and acoustic guitar, or the melancholy "Late November", whose title perfectly describes the record's muted, autumnal atmosphere.

On a purely musical level, "Pampered Menial" is an absolute feast for those who like their prog richly slathered with mellotron, flute, violin, and other 'romantic' instruments. The album's elegant, dreamy soundscapes are light years away from King Crimson's jagged, cerebral compositions, or ELP's out-and-out bombast. In addition, Pavlov's Dog sound distinctly different from the epic sweep and clear country influences of the other 'big' American prog band of the Seventies, Kansas. Surkamp and his crew are not so much concerned with creating epics, but rather with bridging the gap between prog and conventional song structures. Even if "Pampered Menial" may not be the most demanding of listens, it is an album full of individuality and genuinely beautiful music, and as such it is highly recommended indeed.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Pampered or not - this dog is something really special ...

Yes - this album is a very short one indeed. But on the other hand very very impressive. The band, headed by David Surkamp, delivers nine compact songs, some with ballad character. We have wonderful melodies, a lot of Mellotron and diverse other instruments like violin and flute - additionally decent electric and acoustic guitars with some rare heavy rock exceptions. Difficult to categorize the band creates something very melancholic with a mix of symphonic, folk, rock, pop - doubtful being prog you might think if your listening to the album for the fist time. But when you're familiar with it this is no question anymore.

Initiated by a piano intro Julia probably might be the band's best known song - a ballad with mellotron background and flute - wonderful! And Surkamp's vocals of course - either you love or you hate it. But this band would not be PAVLOV'S DOG without his helium falsetto voice. No song lacks. Late November is very melodic and so melancholic. Song dance much heavier, rockier with nice violin contributions and an electric guitar solo. Matchez Trace contains a nice groove and Theme From Subway Sue comes very pathetic - Surkamp cries - he must have raved himself hoarse at the end of the song. I wonder how he was able to continue singing after recording this track - wow! The epic Of Once And Future Kings is something special for me delivering a symphonic orchestral mood. Interrupted by a boogie woogie interlude surprisingly this song is definetely my highlight. Probably because this one is prog pure.

I recommend to check out 'Pampered Menial'. It will enhance your musical horizon for sure ...

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A beloved band among progressive rock followers, PAVLOV'S DOG have their roots in a small band called ''High on a Small Hill'' in 1972.Three of the band's members decided to form another group,focusing on composing original material and so,after several auditions,PAVLOV'S DOG were born in St.Louis around 1974.Some early tracks,recorded at a Illinois-based studio,would reach their debut ''Pampered menial'' in 1975.In this album the band blends the well-known hard rock sound of LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE with classical touches,nice instrumental sections and expressive,unique vocals delivered by the great David Surkamp.In ''Pampered menial'' the rockin' guitars and the fantastic grooves are blended with driving violins,beautiful mellotron work and delicate flutes,resulting an album filled with passion,sensitivity and originality.Highly recommended,''Pampered menial'' deserves a place among the best art/hard rock albums ever to see the light!
Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The best albums are without doubt those you know almost nothing about and don't expect anything from, and yet they turn out to be all that you wished for. For almost a month this album has been a trusty companion, while offering the same thrill time after time. It's just so very unique, which has been pointed out many times, but I still feel that it deserves another mention. Feelings evoked by the album are equally hard to describe. Rainy days in autumn passes by, memories of lost love, yearning. But underneath is a weak but clear light, a hopeful and cleansing tone that is remarkably uplifting all the time. With the risk of flying way over the top on the pretentiousness scale, it's an album somehow filled with struggle.

Some have called it a vocal-driven album. But I feel that statement implies that the music comes in second hand, and nothing could be more wrong. Remember that. David Surkamp has a voice few others resemble, extremely clear, high-pitched and with a shaky fragility that adds even more emotional fuel to Pampered Menial. It's distinct and possibly deterring, but give him a chance to sink in before you judge the album on those merits alone. It's worth the time.

This is genre-defying, easy to get and yet full of minor complexities. But it is the honesty, the profoundness of Pampered Menial that strikes you the most. Many have tried to apply prog ideals on more streamlined music, but in many cases it feels half-hearted or even sloppy. One could of course argue that Pampered Menial is nothing but classic rock and a mellotron. But it isn't as easy as that. While the mellotron adds amazing atmosphere and depth, as it should be, it doesn't stop here. Pavlov's Dog has been nurturing this album, giving it a lot of thought along the way. The melodies are of supreme quality, sometimes sweeping you off in unwanted directions, only to land in a churning guitar riff and yet another powerful refrain. Success isn't built on difficult timing or awkwardly complex structure, but from a number of small tweaks, runs, even singular tones, flowing in and out of the music in just the right places- all the time. Violin and viola for that extra emotional or exotic boost, keyboard effects, the unsurpassed delicacy only a ringing piano can create and, well I can't deny it, mellotron. Mellotron and just a little more mellotron. In adding all these elements together, Pampered Menial turns into a rough mixture of Kansas and early Rush, but in a diet version. Remove some symphonic bombast and force, cut back on some aggression and technicality and finally - add some personality and a lot of heart.

In fact, a great deal of Pampered Menial's charm lies in its inherent weakness. It is not a prog powerhouse, but it incorporates that elusive spirit we're looking for, while maintaining the benefit of being direct and accessible along the way. To top that, very few albums can brag about such a constant flow of pure quality when it comes to the individual songs. There just isn't a single low point deep enough to be truly bothered by. Consistent, but never routine and never a watered-down idea.

4 stars..


Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pampered Menial by Pavlov's Dog first caught my eye in a review in Mojo magazine that cited it as being a great example of classic prog rock. The article highlighted the vocal technique of David Surkamp and the highly innovative structure of the songs. I saw this album rather cheap in a local store and could not resist trying them out. On the first listen I could see immediately what the Mojo article was trying to say. Surkamp's vocals are indeed some of the strangest and yet highly listenable vocals I have ever heard. He has a distinctive high soprano that vibrates at the top register, beyond tenor, and unlike even the high soprano technique of Rush's Geddy Lee. The voice souds bizarre enough to turn many off but if you stick with it, this album can be an exhilirating experience.

'Julia' is operatic in style and a beautifully executed single that works well as a ballad: "I can't live without your love". The pathos and potency of the lyrics is Surkamp's forte, and he continues in form with the astounding 'Late November'. I saw this clip live online and it cemented my decision to get this album. It's a great track and is actually my favourite of the band.

'Subway Sue' is also excellent and features brilliant keyboards from David Hamilton and Scorfina's guitar rings throughout. Another track of note is 'Of Once and Future Kings' with its time signature changes and incredible blend of instruments.

Not every track works for me and the tracks all seem rather similar due to the distinctive style, but its impossible to emulate the sound of this band and for that reason alone they are worthy additions to any prog collection. This is a very unique album from a very unique band, their sophomore album if you like. I understand Pavlov's Dog have other albums to choose from but if you are only after one example of their music, this is the album to get.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Diverse

There are two things that you can easily distinguish in Pavlov's Dog's debut: the distinct voice of David Surkamp and the diversity in the music. I always had respect in the first two tracks (Julia and Late November), the most well known songs of the band, as I used to listen to them in my high-school years. I truly consider them as excellent pieces of classic rock with a touch of melody and a slight 'mainstream' sound.

But Pampered Menial is way more than that. The quality of the album is on high standards with different musical approaches from one song to another. The vocals are indeed in the 'love or hate' category, but one cannot deny the passion and the originality of Surkamp's voice. If listened to the album for the first time, you could easily presume that this may be a collection, and not a studio record, due to the many different styles of prog and rock introduced by the band. This is evident throughout the record, from the blues/ballad sound of Julia and Theme from Subway Sue to the rock'n'roll Natchez Trace, and from the heavy prog riffs of Song Dance to the ending 'proggish' of Once and Future Kings. These latter two are probably the highlights of the album, posing much interest to prog fans.

The use of violin and piano at several points introduce a melancholic atmosphere which blends perfectly with the character of the album. Folk and symphonic elements simply add to the 'spice' of this nostalgic effort. Highly recommended for listening during a Late November rainy night.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Experiments in salivation

Pavlov's dog take their name from experiments into classical conditioning carried out by Russian Nobel prize winner Ivan Pavlov on (yes you guessed) dogs. Essentially, Pavlov's research proved that the dog's salivation was as much to do with association as it was to do with the food itself. Whether the mention of the name "Pampered menial" sets one salivating before even listening to the album is a matter of personal preference, but I have to confess to wondering what all the fuss is about.

There are two things which stand out about this album above all others. The first of these is the brevity of both the tracks and of the album which runs to a miserly 33+ minutes. The second, and most obvious oral distinction is the unique vocal sound of David Surkamp. While most often (and rightly) compared to Geddy Lee (only even higher), Surkamp's trembling delivery also reminded me somewhat of Feargal Sharkey (of the Undertones) or a Tina Turner album played at 45rpm. The striking nature of the vocals will instantly cause some to turn away, while others will find them perfect for the material.

Here we have just 9 brief songs. There is an admirable diversity to the styles adopted, but overall this is sophisticated pop rock of the type (but not the style) delivered by bands such as 10CC. While there is a welcome upfront appearance of mellotron on tracks such as "Song dance", I find little which is truly progressive here, the songs being well arranged but underdeveloped. For a band with such a promising and diverse line up, the exploitation of their instrumental talents is notable by its absence. There are interludes such as the vitar (a bizarre cross between a guitar and a violin) break on "Natchez Train" which demonstrate the band's potential to develop their material into more substantial pieces, but virtually every track is a potential single in its final form.

"Episode" is for me the finest track on the album, this slower ballad reminds me a little of Amon Duul II's "Race from here to your ears". The swirling mellotron backing the track and the fine violin playing offer an atmospheric delight. The closing "Of once and future kings", which when linked to "Preludin" forms a 7 minute two part suite, has a slightly more adventurous structure. While the track has some pleasant sequences, overall I found it rather disjointed and unfocussed.

"Pampered menial" is a thoroughly enjoyable album, with strong hooks and memorable performances. I find though that my initial salivation at the prospect offered by the strong instrumental line up evaporates as I discover I am in for a light snack rather than the feast expected.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I guess that it's no mystery why some people don't like David Surkamp's voice although personally I never judge vocalists by their pitch but merely by applying the performance in relation to the music. By doing just that I can conclude that Pavlov's Dog debut release is an amazing album! I didn't fall in love with this straight away but over the course of a couple of weeks I just couldn't put this album down and the more I listened to it the more I enjoyed these wonderful songs.

The album begins with the bands most familiar anthem Julia which I like a lot but it's hardly the best track that Pampered Menial has to offer! My personal favorites are the much rockier Song Dance with some spectacular vocals sections and the very melodic and dreamy Theme From Subway Sue. These two composition can even make the cloudiest day feel better and always leave me with a smile on my face. The rest of the material fills in the blanks for a complete experience of a complete masterpiece.

There has been some speculation as to whether Pampered Menial should be considered progressive rock but I have no doubt on that subject matter and therefore consider it to be an essential album in any progressive rock music collection.

***** star songs: Julia (3:10) Late November (3:12) Song Dance (4:59) Theme From Subway Sue (4:25) Preludin (1:39)

**** star songs: Fast Gun (3:04) Natchez Trace (3:42) Episode (4:04) Of Once And Future Kings (5:27)

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars No, Pampered Menial is not remotely progressive rock. With the exception of occasional tidbits from a few tracks and the 99 seconds of sheer progressive rock glory (the amazing and thankfully wordless piece "Preludin"), this is a dull pop-rock album fronted by a banshee. Yes, David Surkamp sounds very much like a young Geddy Lee, if only a tad goofier at times, but the excessive warbling and shrieking on the part of the former just makes me cringe. Still, he alone does not justify my overall verdict regarding this album. As I mentioned, the compositions are mostly mainstream rock tracks, several of which are riddled with lyrical clichés and rather wearying riffs. The Mellotron adds a delicate texture to otherwise generic rock music, as do the other unconventional instruments, but in spite of a few consolatory solos, none of it is enough to keep the album interesting.

"Julia" It is strange, I think, for a hard rock band to begin not just an album but a career with a quiet and trite love song like this. Musically, it's a decent affair, but it doesn't help that the refrain is a tired and whiny cliché: "And I can't live without your love." The flute and acoustic guitar passage is fine, but overall I don't consider this a strong start at all.

"Late November" The main guitar theme, coupled with the Mellotron is probably how this album should have begun. This is a decent straightforward light rock song with two good solos in the middle.

"Song Dance" That thick, grandiose opening with Mellotron and guitar reminds me of the introduction to "White Room" by Cream. Piano and strings form a psychedelic passage to the song proper, which is a heavy rock number. The piano soloing is excellent and unexpected in the context of the song. However, the vocals this time around are nearly intolerable though- just warbling and ear-piercing.

"Fast Gun" While the chord progression may be an overused one, the string runs are fantastic. The vocals are not as horrible as they were on the previous track, but here, they just don't fit the tone of the music at all.

"Natchez Trace" Following a gorgeous fifteen second symphonic introduction, a grating electric guitar riff takes over, and soon it becomes a substandard boogie-woogie rock and roll tune. As usual, the soloing is lively and a grand display of musicianship; sadly this time it's cut off and practically ruined by a bloodcurdling shriek from Surkamp.

"Theme from Subway Sue" Although this is yet another forgettable rock song, the Mellotron adds a lovely backing sound and the lead guitar work isn't bad at all.

"Episode" Gorgeous violin, gentle piano, and light guitar serve as the initial foundation for this song. The violin is by far the sweetest aspect of the piece. The song as a whole sounds like good proto-prog most of the time- it is definitely one of the best on the album.

"Preludin" Now this is a shining moment of progressive rock- and by moment, I mean just that, since this piece is a mere 99 seconds. This is a fascinating and highly complex instrumental, showcasing what Pavlov's Dog was capable of but sadly never expressed at large here.

"Of Once and Future Kings" The final track has the makings of a decent progressive rock song, but it is extremely disjointed and unpleasant in many places. The vocals a minute-and-a-half in are utterly terrible. Overall, there's too many different and distinct sections in this song, and they all lack appropriate transitions. In spite of that, "Of Once and Future Kings" is comparatively speaking one of the stronger and at least more interesting tracks present.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pampered Menial was an album that I had to hear as soon as I saw its iconic album art. I never considered it as a Prog release but rather as a classic rock album, and a very American one at that. Two reasons why I would normally expect to dislike it but this one took me by surprise and is certainly good enough to exceed the limitations of its style.

There are sure reasons enough to dislike it. David Surkamp has an extremely high-pitched voice that I would swear to be female but it isn't. He puts a lot of passion and conviction in them though and he's the main reason why I believe the album stands out amongst its peers. In fact, he's so essential to the sound that the one instrumental track on the album is by far the most forgettable one. I suspect Coheed and Cambria are huge fans of this album.

Then there's the music, which is hardly exceptional in the orchestrated rock section also visited by Lou Reed, John Cale and David Bowie in the years preceding this album. When Pavlov's Dog rock out a bit harder they also bring Blue Oyster Cult to mind. But despite the furious craze of the vocals I'd never call this hard rock, or compare it to the 70s hard rock icons. It's way too mainstream and romantic for that.

Again, despite of all omens pointing in the wrong direction, this music still gets to me. Quite an achievement and I can easily see why many have this one listed as a masterpiece. I'd rate it excellent if it had been just a bit longer or if there had been a more interesting instrumental track on it.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I had this album many years ago and although we all liked "Julia" back then in early 1980s, I did not pay much attention to the whole LP. Recently I got it in mp3 format but was suspicious of how it might sound today. I did not expect much.

What a neglect! This is a wonderful album! It strikes me how good it sounds even nowadays. Music on "Pampered Menial" still proves to be inventive and intelligent, moving between the styles of say, CURVED AIR, COCKNEY REBEL and ROXY MUSIC (although slightly less experimental than the latter ones and more melodic in a "symphonic" way). I would surely recommend this album to every serious prog listener.

It is interesting how low this album rates at Allmusic portal, obviously due to the reviewer's dislike of Surkamp's voice. Granted - his singing is really an acquired taste; you love it or hate it. But, it does not bother me. Perhaps I used to listen to "Julia" very often in my teens so I guess, I acquired that strange taste for Surkamp's high pitch timbers. But, that frequent comparison with Geddy Lee of RUSH is pointless in my opinion. Lee's vocal truly is horrible for my ears while RUSH was always too boring for my taste, which I cannot say for PAVLOV'S DOG - at least for this debut LP.

Loads of Mellotron and violins should satisfy most demanding prog experts, while tasteful arrangements make crossover between progressive attitude and pop song format. "Julia", "Late November" and "Song Dance" stand out as sort of hits, but the entire album is extremely tasteful work.


P.A. RATING: 5/5

Review by Warthur
5 stars OK, granted, Pampered Menial probably sounded dated even when it came out, back in 1974 - aside from some synth work from David Hamilton, this sounds like it could have come out four or five years earlier on the psych/proto-prog scene. Granted, it's not exactly hugely proggy, mainly adding a prog twist to power ballads. But when the music's this gorgeous I just... don't... care. Pampered Menial is a powerful album which features the exceptional voice of David Surkamp - who's compared to Geddy Lee and is certainly similarly high-pitched, but has a bit more of an operatic style to his vocals - and excellent musicianship from the rest of the band.

From Steve Scorfina's hard rock lead guitar to the more prog-tastic contributions of violinist Siegfried Carver and Mellotron/flute wiz Doug Rayburn, this is one of the most emotionally moving albums you're likely to find. The band expertly decide when a composition calls for some prog complexity, when a bit of hard rock rawness would help, and when the song needs to be stripped down to just a few instruments and Surkamp's wonderful voice. Though the rest of their career didn't exactly set the world on fire, Pavlov's Dog can be satisfied just with this one masterpiece. Brilliant.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Great musicians writing an album of seven standard rock tunes plus two short proggy songs totally a mere seven minutes of listening time hardly makes this 'progressive.' There are some engaging atmospheres and emotions particularly on "Julia" (7/10), what could have been a pretty decent radio hit, "Late November" (8/10), and the Southern rock/bluesy "Episode" (7/10). There follows three straight mediocre-at-best rock songs. The most 'proggy' this music gets is on the 1:38 instrumental "Preludin" (8/10) and with the 'medieval' instrumentation plus mellotron used in "Of Once and Future Kings" (8/10). "Kings" has a very odd second movement sounds more like something off of MEAT LOAF's Bat Out of Hell. The third movement returns to the slower, more emotionally engaging first form with some very proggy musicianship before devolving into a brief, softer, folkier section, which then revolves into a pretty decent albeit brief outro jam. Still, as stated in my opening, two somewhat proggy songs on a rock album hardly makes for a prog album. If this is prog then so are Sniff'n'the Tears, Tears for Fears, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Cockburn, Jane's Addiction, Molly Hatchet, and Blue Oyster Cult.
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars A surprisingly extraordinary album that I have heard about for eons but it frankly just didn't appeal to me but after finally hearing this debut album I am blown away! Many things are a surprise about this band. First off, they are from St. Louis, MO right here in the USA. I always assumed them to be another English band. Secondly, this band has in the form David Surkamp one of the few (if not the only) singers who sounds like Geddy Lee.

Not really too much to say about this album. On paper it sounds dull and uninspired. It is only mildly progressive, it is a short album clocking in at only a mere half hour, it adds little or nothing to music history. What this album excels at are extremely well-crafted songs that are powerful and catchy. This band like Supertramp, David Bowie, Queen and many others of the day learned how to craft beautiful and interesting songs that added just a touch of progginess as a seasoning. The effect is that it is simple enough to be instantly likable and complex enough to make it stand out more than simple pop music.

In effect, it is simply an album that must be heard to be appreciated because all the magic is in how all the notes go together. The conspiring effects of Surkamp's vocals, David Hamilton's sailing keyboards, Steve Scorfina's tasty bluesy guitar riffs and solos mixed in with the lushness of the violin, vitar and viola, mellotron and flute give a unique snapshot into a sound that captures some of the prog rock that came before and at the same time the simpler hard rock and AOR sounds that would dominate the late 70s. A melodic masterpiece.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 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*)

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Report this review (#2414168) | Posted by AFlowerKingCrimson | Friday, June 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A fantastic record, one that any true music fan should own, no matter what's his favorite genre. The A Side of this one if probably one of the best in classic rock, with "Julia", "Late November", "Song Dance", "Fast Gun" and "Natchez Trace"; for the love of God, that's super-human! The B Side i ... (read more)

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5 stars Such an underrated album! Pampered Menial has become one of my all-time favourites, possibly even in my top 25. Quite simple (musically) as prog goes, but just the combinations of instruments and even the songs alone are so unique and excellent. Famous for being dismissed by critics, and having the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1021260) | Posted by Xonty | Wednesday, August 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When at the end of listening to an album you can´t help yourself but to listen to it again and again and know you have a great album. When almost 30 years after discovering said album you realize that you love it as much as you did then, and that you have listened to it on a regular ba ... (read more)

Report this review (#491594) | Posted by ScarRitual | Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my past reviews (I think there's about 3), I've been very generous with 5 star ratings. A little too generous, if you ask me. I don't know what anybody else would say, but personally, I've been too nice to bands. Not here, folks. Every single star is awarded deservedly so. Why? Because this ... (read more)

Report this review (#141229) | Posted by Leningrad | Sunday, September 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first record of the Americans Pavlov' s Dog was an optimal debut that it conquered, in far away 1976, the numerous ones covered some of specialistic reviews of the field. In effects "Pampered Menial" it denotes one great tuning to the inside of the band, and one pregevole originalities in ... (read more)

Report this review (#114538) | Posted by Planet_Gong | Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first times i listened to "Pampered Menial", i had no idea that i would eventually be sitting here, writing a 5 star review on it. What a strange world it is, no? This is a pretty intense recording. It is a mere 33 minutes in length, but between David "Geddy Lee on helium" Surkamp's soarin ... (read more)

Report this review (#111636) | Posted by Evans | Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Take it or leave it": I wouldn't be so drastic. Between those who say this is one of the absolute masterpiece of our favourit genre and those others who would use this CD as an ash-tray, I think there must be a middle course. When I first listened to it I immediately got a very clear idea: th ... (read more)

Report this review (#99135) | Posted by paolo.beenees | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is so sad that in some bands you can see hundrends of 5 stars reviews and on this one just few.. This is a real masterpiece. And i repeat, a real masterpiece. I loved instanly this melancholic, tense, nostalgic ( my vocabulary is so poor to describe it) voice. I don't believe that takes time t ... (read more)

Report this review (#80915) | Posted by oracus | Sunday, June 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I always loved this album.It was definitely a masterpiece and way ahead of it's time.The band members names I don't really remember at the tip of my tongue.I remember that lead singer's name was David something.I still have the record and always will keep it in my classic rock vault.I remember ... (read more)

Report this review (#48742) | Posted by | Tuesday, September 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Julia" was the reason I decided to search for this album.In Greece,where i live, this song is still played on the radio;so after listening it at least four times in three months I bought ''Pampered Menial'' knowing nothing else for this band.And what a surprise...this album proved to be a gre ... (read more)

Report this review (#40896) | Posted by suachili | Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am 24 years old and think that this is one of the greatest prog rock albums of all time. Surkamp had an unusual, haunting, beautiful and most powerful voice that not many could duplicate. This is a wonderful album! I also think it's funny how alot of people compared David's voice to Geddy Le ... (read more)

Report this review (#39319) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars what a great album! an album full of great melodies and lyrics. surkamp's voice is so unique and so special.the album does not include the long songs that someone might expect, but it can be easily considered as prog rock. songs like julia,of once and future kings, late november, fast gun and epi ... (read more)

Report this review (#36602) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ehi guys !!!??? This is a masterpiece that everyone who loves every kind of music, must have. So go out and get a copy. Its incredible, the voice of Mr. Surkamp is unbelievable, yes, reminds me of Geddy Lee, but more higher (if its possible...). Its a cd that now its nearly 20 year old, bur it ... (read more)

Report this review (#30732) | Posted by | Saturday, February 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I first heard this album in the mid 70s; it blew me away. Forget Geddy Lee - David Surkamp is simply in a different league. From the beautiful and romantic, "Julia", to the the energetic "Fast Gun: the truly awesome vocal gymnastics of Surkamp on "late November; then to the very moving and spi ... (read more)

Report this review (#30727) | Posted by | Saturday, October 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is definetely a masterpiece of rock music. It is a hidden treasure protected against uninvited gold-miners by the terrific voice. But when you love that voice you enter a breathtaking cave full of diamonds and gold. It is beautiful music played and sung like Orpheus must have done it to s ... (read more)

Report this review (#30731) | Posted by | Friday, October 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I first heard a song from this album on KNAC radio back in the day. At the time, I was sworn to Genesis, Van der Graff and Renaissance. But there was something about this band's sound that had me hooked. The album blew me away. And to this day, Julia still gives me goosebumbs. I agree with the ... (read more)

Report this review (#30725) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally--the appearance of one of the most remarkable bands in any style on Progarchives. Both Pampered Menial and At The Sound Of The Bell are melodic masterpieces, with Menial being less mellotronic and more riff-oriented. The fact that Dog is still out there is a proper testimony to the fac ... (read more)

Report this review (#30724) | Posted by lz1dp1 | Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What can I say for this album.Unbelievable!It transffers you to a cold & rainy place.Violins and guitars are very synchronised and melodic.And the vocals are (and in this album)fantastic(in my opinion one of the 10 greatest rock singers of all time). ... (read more)

Report this review (#30723) | Posted by | Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I must admit that it took me some time to get use to the voice of David Surkamp,but when i did i saw that it fits perfect to the music. The music is kind of quiet and mellow but at the same time it`s dramatic and you get dragged into the story of eatch song.The mellotron is used up to it`s maxi ... (read more)

Report this review (#30721) | Posted by | Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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