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


Pavlov's Dog


Crossover Prog

4.07 | 365 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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