Formed under the leadership of Barkhouse ( Langley Beach Crowd) in 1971 with White ( Pepper Tree), Argent (Pepper Tree) and Umphrie (Melody Fair).This line-up recorded Keith Jollimore produced “Blue Feelin’” album which was recorded at Toronto’s Thunder Sound but not released until 1975. Barkhouse co-wrote all songs with various members and wrote all the lyrics himself. In 1973 “Choked Up” single was released on United Artists with horn section added to it where the album version had not.
Snakeye’s debut came in 1975, two years after it had been actually recorded. The band were briefly courted by United Artists Records and the label subsequently issued a single “Choked Up” b/w “Blue Feeling” in 1973, but a full fledged contract never happened, leaving the band with master tapes to an album without a label. Eventually Harold Langille’s local label, Big Harold’s Records, issued the album in a limited pressing. Though the album did quite well for the band regionally speaking, with limited funds and resources, “Blue Feeling” was ultimately destined for the abyss and that’s where it has remained ever since.
It’s quite unfortunate too, as this album is a pretty enjoyable melange of styles that range from moody ballads to energetic hard rock. The album opener “See The Sun” is an excellent mood setter, with atmospheric flutes, tight vocal harmonies and a captivating dynamic shift throughout. “Something To Believe In” is one of the highlights, with a funky James Gang vibe firmly in place, it should’ve been a single. Other cuts worth mentioning are the sizzling title track and “I Can Stand” which sounds like David Byron fronting a southern rock band.
The verdict on this elusive relic is mostly positive. Though there are a few missteps sprinkled throughout, this is by and large a fairly tight and concise set of tracks. Check out this vinyl rip, but be aware that you may hear some very subtle pops on occasion. I labored hard over digitally restoring this one, but the source vinyl was only a VG+ rating. I didn’t want to filter too much noise, as it would’ve compromised the music itself. I think you’ll dig this one in any case! Dig it……….
Tracks: 01. See The Sun — 2:58 02. Blue Feeling — 3:20 03. Choked Up — 3:06 04. Something To Believe In — 3:04 05. I’m Coming Home — 3:52 06. Woman In Love Is A Woman Insane — 3:04 07. Someone — 3:27 08. Believe Me Lady — 2:45 09. I Can Stand — 3:28 10. Boogaty Shoot — 2:38
Personnel: Tony Argent — guitar Jim White — guitar Ken Umphrie — bass, vocals Keith Jollimore — flute, saxophone, producer Allard Barkhouse — drums, vocals
Snakeye “Shape Up Or Ship Out” 1980 second album Canada Private Hard Prog Blues Rock
From the “Nova Scotia Classic Rock” site: Formed under the leadership of Allard Barkhouse (Langley Beach Crowd) in 1971 with Jim White (Pepper Tree), Tony Argent (Pepper Tree) and Ken Umphrie (Melody Fair). This line-up recorded the Keith Jollimore produced “Blue Feelin’” album which was recorded at Toronto’s Thunder Sound but not released until 1975. Barkhouse co-wrote all songs with various members and wrote all the lyrics himself. In 1973, the “Choked Up” single was released on United Artists with a horn section added, where the album version had not.
Over the next few years several personnel changes occurred. Umphrie was replaced by Gordon Tucker (Double Blind) for a time but later returned. In June of 1974, Steve Brown (Juckatar) and Cedric Upshaw (Dogrib) replaced White and Argent. When Umphrie left for a second time in 1975, he was replaced by Steve Russell (Shawnasae, Melody Fair). Neil MacKinnon (Sun Machine) joined in 1976 on keyboards replacing Brown. In July 1976, Upshaw left and joined the Halifax Police Department. He was replaced by John Lake (Sandy Road). Lake had to leave the band because of personal commitments and was replaced by Glen Torreson (Taboo) until his return. When MacKinnon returned to Sun Machine, Amherst guitarist Drew Moore (McCreek) was brought in as his replacement. The Barkhouse produced “Shape Up Or Ship Out” was recorded at Solar Audio between March and September of 1979 and released the following year. Lake, Torreson and Moore all played on the album. Two songs “Believe Me Lady” and “See The Sun” that were on the first album were re-recorded for this album. Again, all songs were band originals.
The band toured Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces several times before they broke up in 1982. Barkhouse relocated to Toronto for several years before returning to Halifax in the mid 90’s and reunited with Lake to form Barkhouse, Lake and Cook. In 1999, he brought back the name Snakeye when Cook was replaced by former Minglewood Band bassist Donnie Hann. Upshaw went on to be one of the founding members of “Blue Thunder”.
“Shape Up Or Ship Out” is a solid AOR effort, with less an emphasis on pomp and more focus on solid straightforward rock. With excellent harmonies and vocals that sometimes beckons David Byron, Snakeye put together a credible collection of tunes that belies their homegrown roots. Though this cult band failed to reach a massive audience in north america, the production is sharp and the stunning packaging is quite impressive for a band on a modest budget. Copies of this album are very hard to come by and typically command a high price. The same can also be said about the band’s debut, though there’s a huge stylistic evolution between the two releases. I recommend this gem if you are a fan of Oakley, Hammersmith or 451°. A special thanks to ‘daz’ for this fine contrubition…………
Tracklist: 01) Here I Go Again (Barkhouse/MacKinnon/Russell/Lake) 02) Walk It Off (Allard Barkhouse) 03) Just A Feeling (Barkhouse/Brown/Umphrie/Upshaw) 04) Reaching Out (Barkhouse/Lake) 05) See The Sun (Barkhouse/White) 06) Believe Me Lady (Barkhouse/White) 07) Looking Through A Window (Barkhouse/Umphrie/Upshaw/Brown) 08) Shape Up (Or Ship Out) (Barkhouse/Argent) 09) I’m Coming Home (Barkhouse/Umphrie)