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Pavlov's Dog

The artsy hard rock group Pavlov's Dog spanned progressive music and heavy metal in much the same way that Rush did in its early days. Also like Rush, Pavlov's Dog had a singer, David Surkamp, whose distinctive high-pitched voice was the group's take-it-or-leave-it factor. Outside of a small cult following, most folks chose to leave it, but over the decades Pavlov's Dog has remained a popular find for fans of the obscure end of American arena rock.

Pavlov's Dog formed in St. Louis in 1972 out of the ashes of a local cover band called High on a Small Hill, with Surkamp, formerly of the minor folk-rock act Touch, on vocals and guitar, joined by lead guitarist Steve Scorfina; keyboardist David Hamilton; Mellotron and flute player Doug Rayburn; bassist Rick Stockton; drummer Mike Safron; and strings specialist Siegfried Carver (born Richard Nadler), who added violin, viola, and an odd hybrid instrument called a vitar (that sounded something like Eddie Phillips' bowed guitar in the '60s freakbeat heroes the Creation). The combination of flute, Mellotron, violin, and Scorfina's guitar heroics led to some comparisons to David Cross-era King Crimson, though Pavlov's Dog had a much more straight-ahead, less twisty sound.

Growing popularity on the Midwestern club circuit led to the band's signing to ABC-Dunhill Records in 1975 (supposedly for a then-record 650,000 dollar advance, though that might have been press-release puffery) and the recording of their debut album, Pampered Menial. History is unclear as to exactly what happened next, but somehow, Pavlov's Dog found themselves off of ABC-Dunhill and on Columbia Records almost immediately, with the result that Pampered Menial was released twice, almost simultaneously, on two different labels with exactly the same sleeve design and track lineup.

Tom Nickeson replaced David Hamilton during the sessions for Pavlov's Dog's second album, 1976's At the Sound of the Bell. Carver left the group after the tour for the second album, leading the band to provisionally title their third album "Whatever Became of Siegfried?" When Columbia dropped the group after the commercial failure of At the Sound of the Bell, these completed tapes were eventually bootlegged, most often under the name The St. Louis Hounds; the tapes were released on CD by a German label called TRC in 1994 under the title Third. (Bizarrely, the cover art for Third is quite shamelessly stolen from the cover of Rick Springfield's million-selling Working Class Dog!)

Pavlov's Dog broke up in 1978. Surkamp and Rayburn re-formed the band briefly in the late '80s with an otherwise new lineup, releasing the album Lost in America in 1990. Surkamp continues to play solo gigs around the St. Louis area. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi
full bio

Comments

turn3inmo
LOVE THEIR MUSIC
milosdad
These guys were huge in San Antonio during the 70's thanks to Joe Anthony, the Godfather of Rock n Roll.
Not your average mainstream band, don't know if any radio station outside of St. Louis plays them, but I dig them.
milosdad
Sad. Given the number of comments here, not many people dig this band.
loganberrypi e 1
I've been listening to PD since the 80s, and it just occurred to me today to see if Pandora had them. Amazing - this is just another reason that Pandora is a treasure. Way to go, Pandora!
Saw these guys open for jefferson airplane at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh Pa about 1974 75
dave.conrad2 5
If you liked David Surkamp and Pavlov's Dog way back when, check out Starsailor. Could be a wild coincidence, but if I was to guess at who influenced these guys, I'd say their parents were Pavlov's Dog fans. Excellent stuff.
Interesting band... some very good tracks !
milosdad
I have both vinyl issues of Pampered Menial. I listened to it all through high school. People complain about the vocals but miss the point. Great arrangements , great lyrics and great vibe.
Very refreshing to hear these guys again. It's probably been 15 years. I'm glad they remained obscure and relatively unplayed..he i g h t e n s the enjoyment factor.
What ever happened to Ron Powell?
At the Sound of the Bell was a quieter but no less intense album than the first, and was more wistful and acoustic than the first album, but both were equally as great a listen. And I have to agree I thought David Surkamp's voice was excellent and definitely a more refined, restrained voice on the second album, especially on the many more ballads that album had on it, which made it the better of the two albums.
ctrawick1
I thought Pampered Menial was great; never cared much for their later stuff. Julia and Song Dance were my favorites.
rgdaddy22903
Their second Album: "At the Sound of the Bell" is just as good. it too was released on both labels.
original Pavlov's dog fan. It just goes to show that the high end isn't for every body.I wish the band would have made it, but then they would have been main stream like Lynard Skynard. yuk.There are a jewels that not everyone can appreciate.T h e review of the band stunk.Surkam p ' s voice is one of the most unique and distinctive I have ever heard in rock.

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