First-ever concert album from the St. Louis' finest canine pack is surprisingly good. But what, no thatsong?
While the tapes of the original PAVLOV'S DOG performances wait in the vault to be teasing as bonus tracks on their first two records' reissues, in comes this souvenir from the current incarnation's European tour of 2009. Which means it was recorded before "Echo & Boo", so the punters had the chance to hear its opening lyrical pair of "Angeline" and "Angelís Twilight Jump", the farewell here, and a couple more fresh songs before the CD listeners, yet the fans hardly flocked to listen to the new tracks that hang well alongside classics, the real magnet. Sure, "Golden Nuggets" and "Of One And Future Kings" can't disappoint - David Surkamp's voice, while showing some age wear, still cuts it - the problem is sometimes it sounds like a singer with accompanists, the founder drummer Mike Safron included, rather than an ensemble.
It may work fine for the numbers from Surkamp's solo album, such as the charged "Looking For My Shadow", or a rarity which is the deliciously funky "Heart Of Mine" by the short-lived HI-FI, a band the DOG's howler formed with Iain Matthews, but not so when it comes to "Theme From Subway Sue" where one would want to have as tight a delivery as on the sharp "Breaking Ice" off "Lost In America", the previous attempt to revitalize the group. Yet the anthemic "Episode" and "Late November" retains all their melancholy magic, and there's the other star to shine on-stage this time: Abbie Hainz who plays the violin with all the grace of the late Sigfried Carver - thanks to him, the opener, "Prelude", sets the spirits high, and the band don't let down even in the weakest places.
"Standing Here With You" isn't one of those, it's arguably the best composition to proudly wear new clothes, so while - a shock! - "Julia" didn't make it here, "Live And Unleashed" feels great. Now, on to those vaulted gems.