It says much about the conditions in the music industry during the early 1970s that Pavlov’s Dog were signed by ABC Records for over half a million dollars on the strength of this here album, which was promptly scrapped at the label’s behest.
That’s why Pampered Menial was the band’s official debut back in 1975. The reels for what is now known as The Pekin Tapes (being recorded as it was in Pekin, Illinois) were thought to have been lost when the studio, Golden Voice, burned down in 1977. However, through a twist of fate, a tape was apparently found last year in a private collection and has now been cleaned up enough to give us all an insight into the way Pavlov’s Dog sounded before Pampered Menial. Aside from hearing how some of the songs which ended up on Pampered Menial sounded in their early form, you also get a chance to hear a selection of others, which were eventually discarded. As far as the former collection goes, there’s definitely more of a kick to the likes of Subway Sue (which was later retitled Theme From Subway Sue), Song Dance and Natches Trace (which became Natchez Trace). The band are more stripped down and have a much heavier sound. The most astonishing comparison comes with the song Preludin & Fellacio In E Minor. It was subsequently shortened to Preludin’, and became a brief instrumental interlude. Here, though, it’s become a full-blown extravaganza. This allows the band to stretch out and show the ways in which they combined jazz, acid rock and classical inspirations. Of the songs which never made it on to Pampered Menial, the jazz fusion of Time and the haunting Clipper Ship should never have been consigned to the dumper. It makes you wonder why they were ignored in the first place. There are also four demo versions included in this set, but these really don’t add anything worthwhile to the finished package. The album is strong enough on its own not to need such ‘bonuses’.