Pavlov's Dog were an American outfit, formed in the mid seventies by vocalist David Surkamp. This debut album is an absolute classic, with an excellent mix of hard rock and haunting ballads, Surkamp's " Geddy Lee on laughing gas " vocals being the focal point of their music. They released a well known second album, " At the Sound of the Bell ", in 1976, with Bill Bruford guesting on drums. It was from their third album onwards that the band's history became a bit of a mystery. The third not particularly well publicised album, simply called " Third ", and also by another name that is not too clear at this time, ( something to do with a hound! ), was released in 1977, and it featured much the same line-up as the first two albums. The band split after this album, with Surkamp going on to feature with keyboard player Mike Quatro and also to front HiFi, a band put together by Ian Matthews, of Southern Comfort fame. A fourth album, called " Lost in America ", surfaced in 1990, once again with Surkamp at the helm, together with original keyboard player/flautist Doug Rayburn, but this time featuring a whole bunch of new musicians. They split yet again, with a rumour that Surkamp had died ( something we can't confirm nor deny at this stage). A fifth album, this time under the name of Pavlov's Dog 2000, and called " End of the World ", essentially a five track EP, was released in 1995. The band was now led by original percussionist Mike Safron, who also handles vocals on this album. He sounds very much like Surkamp, and you'd be forgiven if you thought it was the man. Who knows what further surprises are to come from this great band - their last three albums appear to be very hard to get, which is a pity, because they all have their moments.

  
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Biography by Stewart Mason
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. 

 

 

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Pavlov's Dog - 1974 - Pampered Menial - 1.5/5

Pavlov's Dog - 1975 - At the Sound of the Bell - 4.5/5

Pavlov's Dog - 1977 - Third - 2.5/5

Pavlov's Dog - 1990 - Lost in America - 3/5

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