Pavlov's Dog
Pampered Menial


5.0
classic

Review

by JP Patino Izquierdo USER (17 Reviews)
February 19th, 2015 | 54 replies


Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cheerful, catchy, radio-friendly and with a simple instrumentation, Pampered Menial is everything that's usually seen as a sin in prog, done right

Bands like Kansas or Styx always tried to create a good mix of prog with the radio-friendly, more pop sound of AOR, a genre that you can associate with other bands like Toto, Foreigner or Journey . Even though all of these bands created stone cold classic songs, none of them managed to produce at least one "classic" album, that doesn't grapple only on its singles. The closest these bands got was Leftoverture by Kansas but the album still had some notorious flaws.

Probably the only example of an album that blended these different styles in the right way was 1974's Pampered Menial by Pavlov's Dog . Formed in 1972 in St. Louis, Pavlov's Dog is probably the best example of a band that you'll either hate or love, not only because of their pop style in the prog world but mainly because of its vocalist: David Surkamp.

Surkamp's voice can be described as Geddy Lee's on helium or as a sheep on its rutting period, EXTREMLY high-pitched, is what makes interesting even the worst albums by the band and is what won't allow you to forget Pampered Menial's sound even if you listen to it just once.

Now that we've noted the two main characteristics of the band (its blend of styles and Surkamp's voice) it is time to talk about the album. Pampered Menial as stated in the beginning of the review is a mix of prog and commercial rock; what is it that makes it so different to other albums of its type" Probably how the band works together: Not an unnecesary note is played in the whole album; Stockton and Safron don't try to shine on their own on the bass and drums respectively, they just play in harmony with the rest of the band; Hamilton and Rayburn both do an excellent work on the keys, and, along with Carver on the violin, they are what make of Pavlov's Dog a prog band, creating rythms that are very catchy but easily associated with a progressive act; Scorfina does the same on the guitar, simple but catchy riffs and short but sweet solos. All of this complemented as we've stated before, with Surkamp's voice, reaching higher notes than most of the vocalists of his style like Geddy Lee, but at the same time, doing a better work on lower-notes and expressing better the feelings of a song than them, Surkamp's is easily one of the most impressive vocalists in the world of prog.

That's what makes of Pampered Menial such an interesting listen, the musicians don't try to shine on their own playing in a too complex way, instead they play all together with a much simpler sound that converges in a way more cohesive style. How well the acoustic instruments play together with Surkamp's voice on the classic ballad, Julia , how the violin and the keys blend together so well in Natchez Trace , or how insane are the closing seconds in Song Dance (probably the best song in the album even if it is closer to a hard-rock song than to actual prog) with a bluesy piano, and a heavy guitar and violin in one of the best moments in the album.

It would be interesting to see a band with such a distinctive style to play longer songs, sure, the lenght of the album's pretty short and it would've been cool to listen to an epic by these guys but that's not what Pavlov's Dog wants, they just go the point, playing only what's necessary.

Even though At the Sound of the Bell , the band's second album, would feature some of the best musicians of its time like Bill Bruford (Yes and King Crimson), Andy MacKay (Roxy Music) or the jazz saxofonist Michael Brecker, the band would never reach the masterpiece that Pampered Menial was, the best mix of cheesy rock and classic, full of feelings, prog that until this day divides the prog community, from those who see it as just a pop-rock album with annoying vocals to those who see it as the perfect blend of two genres that many tried to achieved but only a few could. Recommended to every prog-head... you're warned though, you gotta be in the mood for something cheesy.

In 1974 Pavlov's Dog was:

David Surkamp - Vocals, Rythm guitar
Steve Scorfina - Lead guitar
David Hamilton - Organ, Piano
Doug Rayburn - Mellotron, Flute
Siegfried Carver - Violin, Viola, Vitar
Rick Stockton - Bass
Mike Safron - Drums, Percussion



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user ratings (38)
Chart.
4.1
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2015


18019 Comments


oh shi

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - QP

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

As always, I'd appreciate any feedback you could give me guys, you know english isn't my native language, so I know there's gotta be typos in this review, let me know so I can edit them





The album is SO good



Julia - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3KSpeiRPTc

Song Dance - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn6PoixRZcs

Natchez Trace - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOgh8WNXWs8

Theme From Subway Sue - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrPrl3l-UB8

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

band rulz frip, fk u

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2015


18019 Comments


wait what

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I really liked Seed and Sower dude, but Aerie's still my favorite, it is just so amazing

OmairSh
February 19th 2015


14464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really good album.



"Geddy Lee on helium" yeah that sounds about right

danielcardoso
February 19th 2015


11769 Comments


Geddy Lee on helium is spot-on. Excellent album, just heard it a few days ago and it rules, not sure about that 5 though. Nice review, Lord.

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Haha thanks, I know this is not even close to a 5 for many, but I think it really depends on what you're looking for

danielcardoso
February 19th 2015


11769 Comments


Yeah, it's some of the best AOR you can find out there though.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2015


11317 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review MSLG, pos.



For years, I was under the impression that Julia was sung by Marianne Faithfull haha.



"Surkamp's is easily one of the most impressive vocalists in the world of prog."



Interesting opinion. I'd say it's more distinctive than impressive for me.

Digging: Dio - Magica

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I really love Surkamp's voice, I gotta admit that

Cygnatti
February 19th 2015


32637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol supa fun band

Digging: Svitlana Nianio - Kytytsi

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

a 3.0 is way too high, u sure u r not ill, cyg?

Cygnatti
February 19th 2015


32637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

a recent spin deemed this as having too many jams. Had to bmup



Also I may have a bit of a soft spot for soft rock/AOR.

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Never expected that from someone like you, you should check Uriah Heep's Abominog and Rainbow's Down to Earth, probably the only albums along this one that I think are good AOR

TheSonomaDude
February 19th 2015


6499 Comments


Sounds pretty awesome

JokineAugustus
February 19th 2015


8720 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet album and sweet review!

menawati
February 19th 2015


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

julia is a great song, those vocals tho haha

OmairSh
February 19th 2015


14464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You won't forget them that's for sure. Leads on Subway Sue are mind blowing

MrSirLordGentleman
February 19th 2015


12004 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Surkamp's vocals are great, like I read in a review in ProgArchives, he has a trembling voice, typical from french singers a la Edith Piaf, perfect to transmit feelings and he is pretty good on lower-notes too like he does on Valkerie on their seconds album



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