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Topic: Pavlov's Dog Reunion June 26 2004 Return to archive
April 24th, 2004 08:25 PM
Taptrick If you like 70's progressive-glam rock with guitars, keyboards, and a mellotron - you might like this:

Live Concert June 26,2004
Doors open 7PM
The Pageant
St. Louis, MO
Tickets $20 General $25 Reserved
This concert will be broadcasted over the internet in a Live worldwide WEB CAST...

The group released their first album - "Pampered Menial" - in 1975 on ABC Dunhill Records. When the band was signed, they received a $600,000 advance from ABC. This was the largest advance for any new group signed. But, remember that this was 1974. The band then switched labels to Columbia Records for their second album - "At the Sound of the Bell".

The first album - "Pampered Menial" - featured an interesting cover. The front covered featured a white dog and the back had a photo of a hound type dog in an old time setting. So where did the artwork for the first album originate?

Steve Scorfina explains: "The artist for the original artwork for the cover, inside and back of the Pampered Menial album are Original Steel Engravings by Sir Edwin Landseer, master English animal painter. Sir Edwin Landseer, 1802-1873, is perhaps the most well known and respected painter and illustrator of animals. The engravings were chosen from the Robert Vernon Collection published by D. Appleton & New York in 1850, which Gwen Scorfina, (Steve's mother) had bought at a Monastery booksale. On the front cover titled "Low Life" -- were one about to write a natural history of the dog, in his domestic character, the works of Mr. Landseer would furnish as truthful authority for the habits and manner of the various species, as the study of the living model itself could afford. His knowledge of the creature was most profound, and must have so resulted from a study deep enough to engage the attention of a philosophical physiognomist of the human race. The animal pictured under to cognomen of "Low Life" (front cover of album) has undoubtedly no claim to higher rank, either by birth, education, or those with whom he associates. Such an ill-looking mongrel is rarely seen in the company of a gentleman, and yet there is such an air of impudent self-complacency in the countenance of the creature as he sits basking in the sunshine - so much assumed dignity, as would warrant the supposition that he were of royal race, and proper company for anyone. Evidently, he is a dog not to be played with by a stranger; that broad chest and deep jowl, those short, thickset legs, would render him a formidable enemy if attacked, and a valuable ally to his master, whether good deeds or evil. The true character of a thorough fighting dog has never been better portrayed, and whatever the duties which devolve upon him there can be no question of his performing them faithfully and vigorously. By the butcher's block and knife, which form a portion of the accessories, we should surmise that his master belongs to that fraternity.

The striking contrast to "Low Life" is found on the back cover of the Pampered Menial album titled "High Life" shows us a dog, of the hound species, seated in an apartment of a castle, which judging from the furniture and its other contents, is that more especially occupied by the lord of the mansion, probably a knight of the olden time, for helmet and sword, breastplate and glove lie there. The master is evidently a Bookman and a Scribe, as well as warrior, for implements of writing are scattered on the table, interspersed with heavily clasped volumes. The breed of the dog, and the objects by which he is surrounded, clearly bear out the title of the work -- "High Life".

The engravings provided by Gwen Scorfina to CBS Records were never recovered. Hence, Stephen and Kathleen have been collecting Landseer's engravings. British Art Journals had been published during the 19th century. Finally, just last year they were able to grace Stephen's mother with the framed engravings she had once lost.

When the group switched to Columbia, there are several different stories about what happened. One story is that they simply switched labels for their second album and Columbia simply re-released their first album. Another story says that Columbia actually paid the group another $600,000 for their first album and released it less than a week after ABC Records released it. Still a third story says that Columbia Records traded groups with ABC Records - Columbia gave the group Poco for Pavlov's Dog. So which story do you believe? According to Mike Safron, formerly of Pavlov's Dog, the story is as follows: "Pavlov's Dog probably had the most screwed-up situation of any group in history. The chance we had was just unbelievable. We signed the biggest contract ever for a starting-up national band. We signed for $650,000 to ABC/Dunhill, then were fired. Two weeks later we signed for another $600,000 to Columbia. The first album came out in all stores on the same day, on two labels. Never before in history."

When Pavlov's Dog first album came out, people either loved or hated David Surkamp's voice. His voice has been compared to Geddy Lee of Rush due to his ability to hit those "high notes". The songs on the album were unique since they combined the use of the mellotron and the violin.

The song title "Theme from Subway Sue" (which appeared on the first album) was the result of someone in the band misunderstanding the lyrics, thinking David was singing, "And Subway Sue will find out where we're going" (real lyrics: "And someday soon, we'll find out where we're going"). After David finished showing the band the song in rehearsal, someone asked, "Who is Subway Sue, and why is she following us?" According to David Surkamp, it was Siegfried Carver who misheard the lyrics.

The flute solo in the middle of the song "Julia" was played by Hubert Laws. According to Mike Safron, Laws did not like the solo and stated "If I get a credit on the album, I'll sue you." Hence, the band did not list Laws on the album.

As noted, Pavlov's Dog released their second album - "At the Sound of the Bell" - on Columbia Records. This was another good album, similar to "Pampered Menial".

"At the Sound of the Bell" was recorded at the Record Plant in New York City (some tracks were also recorded in England, most notably the boys' choir tracks for "Valkerie"). While the Dog was recording there, they were using the same studio that John Lennon was using for his album of that period. So when the Dog arrived in the studio, a lot of Lennon's equipment was there, including his Mellotron. (If you're unfamiliar with the Mellotron, it contained three tape strips [similar to 8-track cartridges] for each key, usually with violin, flute, and cello recordings. Before synthesized strings were available, Mellotrons were used in concert when a band couldn't afford real musicians [which was the case with the Dog]. Although violin, flute, and cello were the standard "voices," you could theoretically record anything on the tapes.)

Tom Nickeson approached Lennon's Mellotron, excited to be so close to the actual instrument that played the haunting flute intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever." He intended to turn the three-position knob to the flute position and recreate history, but before he did that, he reached for the first key and pressed it. Instead of hearing the characteristic wow-and-fluttery violin, flute, or cello, he and the other band members were treated to the opening guitar arpeggio from "Bungalow Bill"! Needless to say, they were knocked off their feet.

I recently asked Mike Safron if he knew of any plans to re-release the first two albums on CD in the United States. He stated that he knows of no such plans. He noted that Sony Music owns the rights to the recordings and that, in his opinion, it would not make much sense for them to re-release them, given the age of the recordings and the limited sales potential.

Pavlov's Dog third album was entitled "The St. Louis Hounds" even though the band was still going by the name of Pavlov's Dog. The planned title for the third album was "Whatever Became of Siegfried?" This was a joking reference to electric violinist Siegfried Carver who left after the second album.

The original planned cover art was a wonderful drawing of an overhead view of Sherlock Holmes (in classic deerstalker hat) and Watson being led down a foggy London street by an English pit bulldog that just happens to look exactly like the dog in the woodcut on Pampered Menial, which became the band's logo. The cover of the album that was eventually released was a humorous black and white drawing of the group. The name "St. Louis Hounds" and the drawings of the band members on the album were borrowed from a comic strip about Pavlov's Dog that ran in the magazine, New Musical Express, during the band's heydey.

At the time the third album was recorded, the band was still called Pavlov's Dog and was under contract to Columbia. After the album was completed, Columbia Records cut the band from its list and put the album on the shelf, never to be released.

Each member of the band received a 1/4" reel-to-reel tape copy of the master to take home after the album was completed. Several members of the band bootlegged the third album on vinyl over the years (the most notable being the "St. Louis Hounds" version), and the worldwide bootleg CDs are bootlegs of these original vinyl bootlegs. The location of the original studio master is not known.

As noted previously, Pavlov's Dog never officially went by the name "The St. Louis Hounds." This name was used on the bootleg to avoid any attention from Columbia Records and ASCAP.

The music paper, New Musical Express, was quite taken with the American band that everyone thought was British, and NME probably gave the band more press than Rolling Stone or any American outlet. They even sent a reporter to cover rehearsals for and the recording of "At the Sound of the Bell." The magazine made a big deal about Bill Bruford (who had just left Yes) flying to St. Louis to rehearse in Steve Scorfina's carriage house rehearsal space and accompanying the band to a classic American fast-food place (Steak'n'Shake) for lunch.

After being dropped by Columbia Records, Pavlov's Dog played a farewell concert on a St. Louis riverboat known as The Admiral. According to Rick Stockton, "This was indeed our farewell concert as the original band. I felt it was one of the best shows, if not THE best, that we ever did. The quality of performance and sound presentation was probably at it's highest quality level ever in front of a live audience. It should have been preserved on audio and/or video tape, but the logistics at that time just were not manageable, so we didn't do it (probably had something to do with money). I remember it was a short set, about 40 minutes, with selections from all three albums being performed. The final lineup for that day was as follows:
David Surkamp - Vocals, Valeno & Acoustic Guitars
Doug Rayburn - Keyboards, Flute
Steve Scorfina - Guitars, Vocals
Tom Nickeson - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Seigfried Carver (Richard Nadler) - Violin, Vitar
Rick Stockton - Bass, Vocals
Kirk Sarkisian - Drums

We were fortunate enough to find Seigfried and asked him to re-join us for the final show. We practiced the show for several weeks and wanted it to be the perfect set for our fans (and ourselves). I remember the stage was constructed in 3 levels, with the drum riser on the back (highest) level, the middle level was where Doug, Tom and I were located, and the front (lowest) level where David, Steve and Richard performed. The acoustics in that old dance hall were good, and the sound system we used was very good.

The performance was exceptional. That was an extremely emotional day for us. We knew it was the end of the original band and we probably could have sold out that boat for a week, but it was one night and one night only. I'll never forget it."

The groups fourth and final album was called "Lost in America" and again was released on CD on a small, local label in St. Louis, Missouri.

Pavlov's Dog was most popular in the midwest USA, particularly in cities near their hometown. Their music was predominantly played on FM radio stations - like KSHE95 - throughout the midwest. The band was also extremely popular in Europe and Australia. In fact, their first two albums can be easily found in Australia on compact disk.

April 24th, 2004 08:32 PM
Taptrick Oh if you are interested some sites for more info: