01. Restrictions 6:17
02. Tokin Chokin' 3:07
03. Guiltless Glider 8:45
04. Evil 3:14
05. Alaska 3:38
06. Sweet Sixteen 3:17
07. Bag Drag 5:11
08. Mean Night In Cleveland 2:10
Bass, Backing Vocals – Tim Bogert
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Carmine Appice
Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar – Jim McCarty
Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Percussion – Rusty Day
Piano – Albhy Galuten (tracks: 5)
Slide Guitar – Ron LeeJack (tracks: 2)
With a mixture of members from Vanilla Fudge, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and the Amboy Dukes, it's hard to believe that Cactus didn't really succeed in their time. Often derided for being second-rate boogie rock, the band simply did what it did, and part of the allure of the style is its sloppy, second-rate nature. This 1971 release may not see the band at their peak, but it surely showcases the occasionally thundering rhythm section of Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice. Why a song like "Token Chokin'" was never a hit and why it has yet to be embraced by the classic rock-loving public is a complete mystery. The song is some of the most heels-up, thundering, so-brainless-it's-genius rock that has ever been to tape. It's complete with big guitars, big sing-alongs, and a bass-and-drum combo that could knock out windows. Somebody needs to revive this track. Songs like "Evil" and "Sweet Little Sixteen" are all scorching guitars and long-haired riffing. It's a testament to the blues-inspired power they could surely muster up onstage. Other tracks seem to fall apart like the opener, "Restrictions," and "Guiltless Glider," which starts off thick and heavy á la Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla," but goes on for about six minutes too long.
To buffer some of the more blustery elements of the record, there are competent acoustic blues numbers like "Mean Night in Cleveland" and "Alaska," the latter an ode to said state featuring lyrics about penguins, Santa Claus, and the aurora borealis. Nobody has ever said that boogie rock is grad school material, and Cactus are certainly no exception -- they did manage to make a big, bearded racket that is both groan-inducing and a lot of fun.
Okay, so they didn't become as famous as Free or sell as many records as Led Zeppelin. There's an also-ran category in rock that was every bit as good as the giant hit makers. They just didn't have the hits. Of course, we're talking about a time when the B side of a single was often far better than the A side "hit". A time when you bought the record because there was more good music there- not just filler to support the single. Some groups like Jo Jo Gunne, The Michael Stanley Band, and many more made a good living for awhile by playing and recording very good music. Music that holds up just as well today. Cactus is among that group. Fairly well known at the time, as much for where the members came from as for who they were together, somehow they never made the leap to national hits and later classic rock airplay. But anyone with a liking for early 70's blues oriented rock will love these guys. I highly recommend it to fans of Free & Bad Company, SRV, Allman Bros. and all those bluesy groups.