Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cactus - 1972 - 'Ot 'N' Sweaty

'Ot 'N' Sweaty

01. Swim
02. Badd Mother Boogie
03. Our Lil Rock-N-Roll Thing
04. Bad Stuff
05. Bringing Me Down
06. Bedroom Mazurka
07. Telling You
08. Underneath The Arches

Bass, Vocals [Background] – Tim Bogert
Drums, Percussion, Vocals [Background] – Carmine Appice
Guitar – Werner Fritzschings
Organ, Piano – Duane Hitchings
Vocals – Peter French
Side A (1-3)was recorded live at the Mar Y Sol Festival in Puerto Rico on April 3, 1972.

This is the last album recorded by Cactus, and the one and only official release of live material by this fabulous band. The original LP had only three live songs (Swim, Bad Mother Boogie and Our Lil' Rock'n'Roll Thing), recorded at Mar Y Sol Festival, and five others recorded in the studio. The band had passed by some changes: original members Rusty Day (lead singer) and Jim McCarty (guitar)were replaced by Pete French (vocals), Werner Fritzschings (guitar)and Duane Hitchings (keyboards), all of the fine musicians. The live portion of this album is frantic and plenty of energy, and the studio tracks are all very interesting (Bedroom Mazurka is my favourite, by the way), but Cactus were falling apart. Founder members Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice would play with Jeff Beck, and Hitchings formed The New Cactus Band, with disappointing results. But if you really like rock'n'roll, boogie and hard rock, don't miss this album, it will make you smile every time that you play it. Look for an obscure release by english label Rarity Records, because it features three bonus tracks: Bedroom Mazurka (recorded at Mar Y Sol), and No Need to Worry and Parchman farm (recorded by the original 4-piece Cactus).

Cactus - 1971 - One Way...Or Another

One Way...Or Another

01 Long Tall Sally 6:27
02 Rockout, Whenever You Feel Like 3:56
03 Rock N' Roll Children 5:40
04 Big Mama Boogie - Parts I & II 4:59
05 Feel So Bad 5:30
06 Song For Aries 3:05
07 Hometown Bust 6:38
08 One Way...Or Another 5:05

Bass – Tim Bogert
Drums – Carmine Appice
Guitar – Jim McCarty
Vocals – Rusty Day

One Way... Or Another (1971) was the second studio outing to feature the incipient incarnation of supergroup Cactus, comprised of Vanilla Fudge rhythm section Carmine Appice (drums) and Tim Bogert (bass), as well as former Amboy Dukes lead vocalist Rusty Day (vocals/mouth harp), and Jim McCarty (guitar) from Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels and the Buddy Miles Express. Even as their debut was ostensibly rawer, they retained the same amp'ed-up electric blues reminiscent of early Grand Funk Railroad and Foghat. The more polished outcome heard on their sophomore effort is undoubtedly the direct result of assistance from recording engineer extraordinaire Eddie Kramer and their upgraded digs at the recently completed Electric Lady Studios, which they inhabited shortly after the passing of the facilities' owner, Jimi Hendrix. Immediately, the proceedings are thrust into high gear with a languorous and seething interpretation of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." While not the extended barnburner it became in concert, it gets things off to a rousing start. The lightweight up-tempo "Rockout, Whatever You Feel Like" could easily be mistaken for Jo Jo Gunne, especially in Day's vocal asides, strongly recalling Jay Ferguson and company. "Rock 'N' Roll Children" is a heavier number with McCarty unleashing rounds of impressive and impellent fretwork churning atop the simmering backbeat. Cactus do what they do best, returning to their boogie rock roots on the suitably named "Big Mama Boogie -- Parts 1 & 2." McCarty's pumping acoustic opening is perfectly augmented by some organic mouth harp courtesy of Day before launching into an explosive assault of pure, unadulterated proto- metal. The cover of Chuck Willis' "Feel So Bad" is given a sizable shakedown, yet doesn't quite seem to live up to its potential. The opposite can be said of the understated "Song for Aries." Although clocking in at just under three minutes, the instrumental is a showcase for McCarty's immorally underrated lead guitar. The long-player concludes with two full-blown centerpieces, revealing Cactus' strength as a formidable powerhouse combo on the autobiographically-inspired rave-up "Hometown Bust." Fittingly, this lineup and album come to an end on a high note with the title track "One Way...Or Another." The number is quite possibly the finest original to have been worked up by the band. The cut blazes from tip-to-tail and if the primary riff seems familiar, that may be because it was lifted almost verbatim from Jeff Beck's Beck-Ola-era tune "Rice Pudding." However in Cactus' care, it stomps with a bit more crunch and no-nonsense attitude.

Cactus - 1971 - Restrictions


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.