Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Snakeye - Shape Up Or Ship Out (1980)

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.


Anonymous said...

Not a bad little album here. Occasionaly a bit poppy for my tastes, but that's only minor critisism.

Anonymous said...

1) Here I Go Again (Barkhouse/MacKinnon/Russell/Lake)
2) Walk It Off (Barkhouse)
3) Just A Feeling (Barkhouse/S Brown/K Umphrie/C Upshaw)
4) Reaching Out (Barkhouse/Lake)
5) See The Son (Barkhouse/J White)

1) Believe Me Lady (Barkhouse/White)
2) Looking Through A Window (Barkhouse/Umphrie/Upshaw/Brown)
3) Shape Up (Or Ship Out) (Barkhouse/T Argent)
4) I'm Coming Home (Barkhouse/Umphrie

Residentevil2 said...

Thanks very much for this post my friend great stuff.
Still hopeing you post
Wrabit - West Side Kid (1983)
ALSO Looking for Can. group DILLINGER second album "Don't Lie To The Band"

Thanks again for all the great stuff

Anonymous said...

I really like "I`m Coming Home" and "Reaching Out". Grat songs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! That title track is one of the funkiest songs i've ever heard. Mike

Just real diamonds said...

I do prefer the debut album! And the remakes of See the sun and I'm coming home almost ruin those great songs. But hey, thanks for the debut again!

JKR said...

Here here, I agree. The original tracks are far superior to the AOR styling of these remakes. This album is ok, but the debut is much better!

Mani said...

Hi, my brother had this album and I would sneek into his room and play this over and over. I remember every track, I loved it. How could I get my hands on a copy? Is there an mp3 version that I could buy?
Robert in NB