Missouri seven-piece Pavlov’s Dog were a crack team of musicians. Steve Scorfina had played guitar for Michael McDonald and REO Speedwagon, Mike Safron was a regular drummer for Chuck Berry, while keyboardist Doug Rayburn was an avid acolyte of the Mellotron.
Their 1975 debut album Pampered Menial was produced by Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman (Blue Öyster Cult), and it’s still a thrilling experience, with impassioned folk ballads (Julia), psych rock (Song Dance) and irresistible drama (Fast Gun, Theme From Subway Sue). The most striking element remains David Surkamp’s extraordinary voice, an arresting hybrid of Geddy Lee’s helium-high tone and Cat Stevens’ easy melodicism.
A year later At The Sound Of The Bell proffered more gorgeous balladry (Mersey), prog (Valkerie) and sheer exuberance (You Better Hang On). It’s a more muted affair, and little wonder – judging by the inter-band acrimony recounted in Marco Rossi’s excellent liner notes.
The inevitable split came in ’77, but they re-formed in 2010 for more touring. In light of these two excellent, unusual records, it’s a shame so much time has been lost.