From its inception, the band Cactus was always supposed to be a supergroup. The rhythm section of late-‘60s psychedelic sludge rockers Vanilla Fudge – namely, bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice – had planned to form a group with Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart, but their plans got sidetracked after Jeff Beck was laid up for a year and a half after a car crash. Rod Stewart ended up joining the Faces with fellow Jeff Beck Group member and future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.
Bogert and Appice eventually hooked up with Jeff Beck in 1972 to form Beck, Bogert & Appice, which adjourned after a couple of years and two albums (the self-title studio album, and Live In Japan).
In the meantime, Beck’s accident and lengthy recuperation didn’t put too much of a dent in Bogert’s and Appice’s plans. They found suitable journeymen replacements in guitarist Jim McCarty (from Mitch Ryder’s Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Express) and singer Rusty Day (from the Amboy Dukes – yeah, The Nuge’s old band).
Call it a not-quite-as-super supergroup, but this lineup put out three albums of pure, unadulterated early ‘70s bloozy boogie rock before interband squabbling did ‘em in. Bogert and Appice hired a few more guns for a fourth combination live-and-in-studio album in ’72 before dissolving the band and joining Beck for BB&A.
Apparently, Cactus has been referred to as “The American Led Zeppelin,” but tracking down the original quote has proved elusive, so it’s tough to verify who said it, where and when. Nevertheless, the band’s short-but-impressive run turned enough heads so that, years later, such rockers as Van Halen, David Coverdale, Kid Rock and Ted Nugent, among others, have gone on record as being Cactus fans.
In 2006, original Cactus members Bogert, Appice and McCarty reunited for a few gigs and were joined by former Savoy Brown frontman Jimmy Kunes on vocals (as original belter Rusty Day died in ’82 from gunshots from a bad drug deal). They also released a new album, Cactus V, which was a fine updating of their classic hard-rockin’ template.
These five cuts are as good a sampling as any of Cactus’ brand of cock rock. If you like what you hear, their original studio albums are readily available for purchase or download, as well as some fine collections of both studio and live material. Enjoy!