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Pavlov's Dog - At the Sound of the Bell CD (album) cover


Pavlov's Dog


Crossover Prog

3.07 | 156 ratings

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3 stars Review Nš 151

Pavlov's Dog is an American band often compared to Rush, not so much for their style of music, which is more art rock and less progressive than Rush's music, which is also more heavy, but because the voice of their vocalist. The unique voice of David Surkamp often is compared to the voice of Geddy Lee, the lead vocalist and bassist of Rush. Despite I accept that there are many similarities with both voices, I sincerely think they are two substantially different voices.

'At The Sound Of The Bell' is their second studio album and was released in 1975. Their second and last album in the 70's, was a lighter and less powerful effort then their excellent debut album 'Pampered Menial'. But, anyway, 'At The Sound Of The Bell' is saved, generally, by strong songwritting and tasty arrangements, in the vein of their debut album.

The line up on the album is David Surkamp (lead vocals, acoustic and veleno guitars), Steve Scorfina (lead guitar), Rick Stockton (bass guitar), David Hamilton (keyboards), Doug Rayburn (mellotron, bass and percussion), Thomas Nickeson (acoustic guitar and harmonies) and Mike Safron (percussion). In relation to the line up of the first album, Siegfried Carver (violin, viola and vitar) left the group. In addition to this band's change, a handful of guest artists were invited to participate on the album, of which deserve special mention the jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker, the King Crimson's drummer Bill Bruford and the Roxy Music's saxophonist Andy MacKay.

'At The Sound Of The Bell' has nine tracks. The first track 'She Came Shining' written by Surkamp and Rayburn is a very pretty melodic song that shows a more progressive musical instrumental arrangements than the most of the songs of their debut previous studio album. This is a good song but it doesn't add anything special or new to the album. The second track 'Standing Here With You (Megan's Song)' written by Surkamp is a very calm and pretty ballad with good musical quality. It's an acoustic song with beautiful piano, violin and acoustic guitar works, very well sung by Surkamp. The third track 'Mersey' written by Surkamp and Scorfina represents another calm and pretty ballad. This is almost an acoustic track. It has a good guitar work and it has also a good saxophone solo. It's also a good song but as happened with the first track, I can't see anything special on it. The fourth track 'Valkerie' written by Surkamp is a very good song. Finally, we have on the album a really great song in the vein of many of the songs of their debut album. It has nice piano, flute and mellotron works, and it has also a very interesting chorus. This is one of my three favourite songs on the album. The fifth track 'Try To Hang On' written by Surkamp is a very short song and like some of other tracks on the album it has nothing special to mention on it. This is a song with some musical mixture of rock and jazz. The final result is, undoubtedly, a well played song. The sixth track 'Gold Nuggets' written by Surkamp represents the second best song on the album. It's also a song in the same vein of 'Pampered Menial', but, for me, is even better than 'Valkerie'. This is a fantastic melodic song that could have been part, like 'Valkerie', of their debut studio work. It deserves special mention the surprising use of a mandolin on the song. The seventh track 'She Breaks Like A Morning Sky' written by Surkamp and Rayburn is another song with some jazz influence, basically because how the use of the bass and the saxophone on it. The final result is a very pretty and nice song. The eighth track 'Early Morning On' written by Surkamp and Rayburn is, at my taste, a very beautiful and enjoyable song. It has some very interesting musical arrangements too. Despite be a vulgar song without anything special, the final effect on me, is a nice track with gentle music to listen to. The ninth track 'Did You See Him Cry' written by Surkamp and Rayburn is, in my humble opinion, the best song on the album and represents also the only truly progressive track on it. This is a fantastic song with abrupt musical passages, very melodic and with several rhythm changes all over the track. It has also a fantastic mellotron work. This is, for me, the best and the most perfect way to Pavlov's Dog finish their second studio album.

Conclusion: As I wrote before when I reviewed 'Pampered Menial', in the distant 70's the progressive rock music was essentially a European phenomenon, mainly a British phenomenon. So, when some American progressive rock bands like Kansas, Starcastle, Blue Oyster Cult and Pavlov's Dog appeared, soon I tried to know them. Curiously, my first purchase of those bands, in those times, was precisely 'At The Sound Of The Bell'. But however and unfortunately, 'At The Sound Of The Bell' is an album much lower, in terms of musical quality, than 'Pampered Menial', their debut. Anyway, we can't really say this is a bad album. Still, I must may say that I became some disappointed with it because almost all the songs on it are somehow vulgar with the exception of 'Valkerie', 'Gold Nuggets' and 'Did You See Him Cry'. However, if you know already and you like 'Pampered Menial', worth buy this album especially because of those three songs, mainly due to 'Did You See Him Cry' which is, in my humble opinion, the best song ever wrote by them on both albums. However, if you don't have any of these albums, the right thing to do is to buy 'Pampered Menial'.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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