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Articles Home » 1976 Articles » Pavlovs Dog - 1976 At The Sound Of The Bell
Pavlovs Dog - 1976 At The Sound Of The Bell

ARTIST: Pavlovs Dog
ALBUM: At The Sound Of The Bell
SERIAL: PC 33964
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1992, Sony, 32405 * 2013, Esoteric, ECLEC2381


LINEUP: David Surkamp - vocals, rhythm guitar * Steve Scorfina - lead guitar * David Hamilton - keyboards * Doug Rayburn - mellotron, flute * Tom Nickeson - acoustic guitar, vocals * Rick Stockton - bass

Guests: Gavyn Wright - violin * Paul Prestopino - mandolin * Bill Bruford - drums * Mike Abene, George Gench - organ * Michael Brecker, Andy Mackay - sax * Les Nichol - guitar * Elliott Randall - bass, guitar * High Wycombe Boys Choir - backing vocals * Mountain Fjord Orchestra - strings

TRACK LISTING: 01 She Came Shining * 02 Standing Here With You * 03 Mersey * 04 Valkerie * 05 Try To Hang On * 06 Gold Nuggets * 07 She Breaks Like A Morning Sky * 08 Early Morning On * 09 Did You See Him Cry


Moving forward a year, St Louis based Pavlov's Dog were still flying high on the Columbia/CBS radar, even if sales figures and popular acclaim elsewhere around the stars and stripes nation said otherwise. Gone from the band was Siegfried Carver, his spot taken by acoustic guitarist Tom Nickeson. The symphonic angle of the band falling to guest players instead. Some tracks were recorded in England, and several guests including UK drummer Bill Bruford (who came in once Mike Safron handed in his resignation, before recording began) and Roxy Music sax player Andy Mackay play on the album. Still associated with the band for their second excursion were Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman; the Blue Oyster Cult pair retained for the return exercise. In comparison to the debut 'Pampered Menial', PD go for a more commercial sound, with a lesser emphasis on the symphonic/folk aspect. Sure, a lot of those instruments are still apparent on 'At The Sound Of The Bell', but they across as less dominant than before. And the question will be asked: does David Surkamp still sail away with the wind courtesy of his tenor? Well the answer to that is a resounding no. Yes, his remarkable voice is very much there, but is not as OTT as before.

The Songs
In saying that, PD go overboard with some ambient keyboards at the start of 'She Came Shining', before a straight-forward piano led arrangement commences. There are some nice organ stabs on the choruses which add some dramatic infusion, so to some Scorfina guitar work. 'Standing Here With You' leads off with some poignant violin, a mellow ballad mostly, 'Mersey' with its sax solo is not a pointer at The Beatles 60's era. No, it's a simple girl meets boy love story. 'Valkyrie' is PD's most ambitious tune on the album. Veering close to prog territory, it's spoiled somewhat by the sax work throughout, though the boys choir is a good addition. 'Try To Hang On' is a short sharp 2 minute blast, high on the bar-room piano quotient. 'Gold Nuggets' is one of those 'under the starlight - out on the range' type numbers. Wide as the vista upon the horizon. 'She Breaks Like A Morning Sky' surely must be 'Try To Hang On' part 2, with its quirky style and yet more sax work. 'Early Morning On' is a much better representation of the PD sound, orchestral in style and less quirky and throw-away. The finale 'Did You See Him Cry' is also a pretty good track, harking back to the band's better moments; the keyboard work in particular very sophisticated.

In Summary
This is a reasonable release, but I think I much preferred 'Pampered Menial' due to the symphonic/progressive rock overlay. You don't hear that so much on this second release, which has a straight-forward sound to my way of listening. The over-abundant sax work on this album didn't do anything for me unfortunately, and kinda kills any aspirations toward a follow-up symphonic release, which I thought was one of PD's redeeming features. Still. it would seem that this album was more popular in reviews and writings elsewhere on the Net years after its release, so who am I to say? Still, the Pavlov's Dog story would continue on beyond the CBS/Columbia years.. read on..

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