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Snake Eye: The Journey

Having released a 1970 album and played a few shows, the band Red Dirt decided that a change of name was their passport to fame and fortune and promptly became Snake Eye, under which guise Manfred Mann described this outfit as "one of the best bands he had seen". Praise indeed and if you like Wishbone Ash, you might well have agreed, for while Snake Eye were put in the same pot as both King Crimson and The Allmans, it's hard to shake off the feeling that the opening track from which their only album, The Journey, takes its name isn't a long lost Ash track. It's a thought that runs through this entire album, the long instrumental sections of "Sweet Dream Lady" or "The Heart Of A Young Boy" utilising a similar structure. "World In A Mountain" does go some way to revealing the Crimson comparisons and yet it would have to be a watered down version of that band who would have come up with the dextrous, yet much more straight ahead themes set out here.

Strangely for an album where they are buried deep within lengthy twin guitar interplay and booming rhythms, the vocals from Dave Ritchie offer a dreamy change of mood that fits the music well. Although there's little doubt that it's the fret work of Ritchie and Ron Hales, and how that melds keenly with Ken Giles' bass, that is the key to what makes The Journey as engaging as it is. Drummer Steve Jackson holds up his end of the deal, eagerly adding emphasis and style as does Gary Boroughs who appears behind the kit on two tracks to Jackson's four. Although it's also Jackson who plays on two additional bonus cuts, "Tolly Cobold" and "Hoe Down", neither of which seem connected in any way to the main album, both being a strange and unconvincing folk rock hybrid that neither shows the band in a great light, or add anything to The Journey other than length.

The six main album cuts however are worth the price of entry alone, the easy mannered but pinpoint sharp and hugely memorable melodies this outfit were capable of weaving, really quite impressive. Personally I'd never heard of Snake Eye before this welcome Angel Air release, something explained by the fact that these recordings have never actually seen the light of day before. The debut Snake Eye album coming some 44 years too late for them to hit the big time. Which when you consider just how good their music was, is nothing short of a travesty. Fans of Wishbone Ash will lap up The Journey and wonder at what could have been for an undiscovered band that deserved so much more.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. The Journey
2. World In A Mountain
3. Sweet Dream Lady
4. The Heart Of A Young Boy
5. Don't Be A Fool
6. The Journey's End
7. Tolly Cobbold
8. Hoe Down (live BBC Radio Humberside 1972)

Added: February 4th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Journey at Angel Air
Hits: 3324
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Snake Eye: The Journey
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-02-04 21:41:39
My Score:

The English band Snake Eye started out as Red Dirt in the early '70s and managed to release a debut album on the Fontana label before changing their name and management. As Snake Eye they returned to the studio in 1972 to record their follow up disc but the recording was never released and the band shortly thereafter called it quits. That, my friends, was a real shame as I think this band could have been huge given the right circumstances. Even touring with the likes of Free, J Geils Band, The Kinks, Status Quo and Marc Bolan apparently wasn't enough to solidify their musical standing.

The good thing is Angel Air Records has discovered this long lost gem and has given it a proper release some forty-five years after the fact. I'll say it right now, The Journey is a fantastic slice of early '70s classic rock in line with Wishbone Ash and at times a youthful Jethro Tull.

The disc opens with the title track featuring chilled out guitar with a definite Wishbone Ash feel. Excellent riffs shrouded in a psychedelic haze highlight "World In A Mountain". Vocals don't begin until the seven minute mark but they are excellent and the twin guitar attack is really something special. Tasty guitar jams highlight "Sweet Dream Lady" including some mellower parts adding a bit of folky trippiness. This is classic '70s rock that should have been heard back in the day. "The Heart Of A Young Boy" shifts between harder edges and softer, more contemplative sections. The emotive guitar solo is just fantastic. The two bonus tracks that end the CD are a completely different beast but both are enjoyable in their own right. "Tolly Cobbold" is a folk/country ditty while "Hoe Down" is a catchy folk jig. Both tracks feature outstanding fiddle played by Dave Ritchie.

This is a no brainer for '70s rock aficionadas. Just buy it.

Band members:
Ron Hales (lead guitar)
Dave Ritchie (vocals, lead guitar, fiddle)
Ken Giles (bass guitar)
Steve Jackson (drums)
Gary Boroughs (drums tracks 4 and 5)

Snake Eye: The Journey
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-10-24 09:43:19
My Score:

Lengthy tunes filled with extended, melodic guitar solos, more than a fair share of complex musical passages, strong vocals, and the occasional heavy riff...these are some of the characteristics that you'll find on the one and only release from Snake Eye, titled The Journey. Originally recorded in 1972 but failing to secure a label for its release, this British band played numerous gigs with some of the heavyweights of the day but quickly folded, never allowing The Journey to see the light of day until now thanks to the folks at Angel Air Records. With a dual lead guitar attack that owed as much to Wishbone Ash as it did to the Allman Brothers Band, Snake Eye were ripe for stardom but it was sadly never to be. The album is an excellent snapshot of the times, the guitar interplay stupendous on tracks such as "World in a Mountain", "Sweet Dream Lady", the jazzy "Don't Be a Fool", and the epic Wishbone Ash-meets-King Crimson intensity of "The Journey's End".

Angel Air have added two bonus tracks here, "Tolly Cobhold" and "Hoe Down", both brief tracks that are in a completely different style than the rest of the album, more of a country & bluegrass flavor than the progressive hard rock, blues, and jazz that you'll hear prior. Apparently the band have reformed with original guitarist Ron Hales at the helm, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Snake Eye. In the meantime, any fan of early '70s hard rock & prog will want to investigate this one.

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