“V” by Cactus

Artist: Cactus
Title: “V”
Label: Escapi Music
Release Date: 7/18/2006
Genre: Blues Rock
Rating: 4/5

It has been well over 30 years since Cactus has released an album, or for that matter, even been together. It’s my guess that some readers might be seeing this and thinking “Cactus?”, Who?”, “30 Years…huh?” Well, for those members of the readership allow me to explain that Cactus was a short lived “Supegroup” in the early 70’s. The band consisted of Carmine Appice (drums) and Tim Bogert (bass) the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge, along with guitarist Jim McCarty from Mitch Ryder’s
Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Express, and singer Rusty Day from Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes.

The lineup put out three albums Cactus (1970), One Way Or Another (1971), and Restrictions (1971). A fourth album Hot ‘N’ Sweaty (1972), featured original rhythm section Bogart and Appice along with Werner Fritzschings (guitar), Duane Hitchings (keyboards) and Peter French (vocals). I have to admit that I am a fan of the original Cactus lineup. I really like the Boogie Blues based, riff heavy, brand of Proto –Metal they were bringing to the table. Jim McCarty is an excellent but highly underrated guitar player; just check out Cactus’s full throttle version of Mose Allison’s “Parchment Farm”, it is a revved up boogie guitar frenzy. Their version of Chester Burnett’s “Evil” is about as heavy as a blues based song can be and you can find this and more on “Cactology” (which is a best of collection and a fantastic overview of the four albums and a recommendation from this writer).

Now back to their new release Cactus “V”. This album reunites the original line up of Bogert, Appice, and McCarty. Sadly, Rusty Day was tragically murdered in 1974 and that brings Jimmy Kunes on as lead vocalist. Kunes expertly handles the raw and bluesy vocals and brings their music to life on the album. Overall, the lyrics and theme of the band is Rock influenced Blues and it very simply delivers. Randy Pratt (The Lizards) does a guest appearance and brings some tasty harp to tracks such as “Doing Time”, “The Groover”, and “High In The City”. There is a nice short acoustic guitar instrumental called “Blues For Mr. Day” that really shows McCarty’s taste and finesse. He is not a technically extreme guitar player but he is a highly musical one and this is clearly evident all over the album. The drumming of Carmine Appice is firmly rooted in the blues and as powerful as ever and Tim Bogert is grooving right there along with him, The tightness of the two players is quite apparent on the recording and this is no surprise to me considering their long history with one another.

Cactus “V “is a solid, straight-up Blues Rock album with excellent playing from all the musicians. For the existing Cactus fans this is a welcome release and for fans of 70’s style Blues Rock, this is a album worth picking up.

Track Listing:
1. Doing Time
2. Muscle And Soul
3. Cactus Music
4. The Groover
5. High In The City
6. Day For Night
7. Living For Today
8. Shine
9. Electric Blue
10. Your Brother’s Keeper
11. Blues For Mr. Day
12. Part Of The Game
13. Gone Train Gone
14. Jazzed

Official Website: www.cactusrocks.com

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