Tag Archives: The Buggles

New Album! Cactus

A classic bootleg gets a proper release.

I’ve certainly waxed poetic about Cactus before. Growing up in the NYC area I was a lot closer to the flame, but as time passes on more people realize that these guys were monsters. Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert were the pulse of the Vanilla Fudge, a Long Island legend made good, while Jim McCarty and Rusty Day made their bones in Detroit.

At a time when album rock and FM radio were forming an unholy alliance, bands that could go deeper and heavier were prowling stages like panthers, and Cactus was capable of blowing anyone off the stage with thundering hard rock and boogie (and often, they did). It’s a shame that their flame only burned brightly for a few years. It’s an even bigger shame that forty years later, people still have to explain who they were.

In 1971, prior to the release of what would be their third and final studio album Restrictions, Cactus commandeered Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead New York for small, by-invitation-only gig that was simulcast on WLIR, Long Island’s premier rock radio station. Given the technology of the day, anyone prescient enough to tape the show had a pedestrian copy at best, and when bootleg versions started showing up years after the band’s demise they were anything but pristine. (When I mentioned this to Carmine, he was unaware that the bootlegs existed at all.)

The master tapes showed up at a swap meet in Austin; now restored and remastered it’s out there for all to enjoy. “Evil” absolutely crushes; one can only imagine the force of frontman Rusty Day contained in this tiny room. Axe whiz Jim McCarty is blazing throughout, and Bogert and Appice are in lockstep groove on bass and drums (obligatory solos aside; this was the 70s after all).

Cactus was no singles band, the hour-long recording features only seven tracks. And while by design it was not a greatest hits set,  it does include both classic halves of “Big Mama Boogie” and a fifteen minute version of their blues classic “No Need To Worry” in addition to live favorite “Oleo” and the rarely played “Token Chokin'” A little blues, a lot of boogie and some incendiary rock, an appetizer platter sampling all three albums. The band is relaxed and having fun, and the sound is astonishingly good considering the age of the recording.

Not long afterwards, both McCarty and Day were gone; a newly assembled roster recorded a half-live, half-studio album (‘Ot and Sweaty)before it was all over. In 2006, with Jimmy Kunes called upon to replace the deceased Rusty Day, the “American Led Zeppelin” reunited to record V and restoke the fires. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the band, and Ultra Sonic Boogie is just one of a series of gems set for release.

Boogie feels good and good in my heart.

August 1st marks the anniversary of Anne Frank‘s last diary entry and the first Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Surely there must be a connection.

(No there isn’t…and don’t call me Shirley)

Today is also the 29th anniversary of MTV, as The BugglesVideo Killed The Radio Star” launched the music video era. Remember when MTV played videos? Remember when Music Television was about music?

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The DVD Savant

Glenn Erickson (a/k/a DVD Savant) is one of my go-to guys when I have any questions about film releases on DVD. As his title might indicate, the man is a bit focused, and I find his updates informational and his takes even-handed and thought-provoking.

But one of my favorite Savant rituals is his annual “wish list” – classic films that have yet to be released on DVD. It’s been great to watch several older classics finally get the proper respect, and you can also see ones that are at least scheduled for production. And yes, every year will unearth a few more that made it to a cinema and maybe even a VHS tape but still languish behind in the DVD world.

Here’s Glenn’s brand-new DVD Wish List.

Of course, just about any recent movie worth its salt is available, as are most television shows. Studios realize that with hundreds of cable channels, Internet video and an explosive gaming industry – just to name a few – people’s lives are filled with distractions. And yes, you can watch a majority of current television programming on your laptop or even your phone (although why you would want to go small when a fifty inch screen can be had for under a grand is lost on me). But with the addition of commentaries, subtitles, outtakes and other bonus features, studios budgeted the DVD-buying audience into their marketing plan.

But older films didn’t have that luxury. And it’s hard enough to pull a recent cast together to do any sort of retrospective feature, let alone the surviving members of a cast who might be in ill-health and poor memory. And the market is small, of course. Thankfully recent years have seen Criterion, Warners, Fox and other production houses assemble great reissues and box sets, and sales had been strong enough to warrant a cautious continuation of the product line. But now, like with music, a generation of freeloaders downloaders has impacted the business model. Warners has even moved to releasing movies on demand instead of pre-packaging titles.

It’s rewarding to see a younger audience discovering some true greats from the past in music, and the same applies to the history of film. But their methods might kill this marketplace too. If so, I guess The Buggles will have to write a sequel.

Glenn has a great essay on that topic as a lead in to his newly revised wish list. Trust me, you’ll want to bookmark his main site and visit often.

So that’s my long-winded way of saying thank you Glenn Erickson – please keep ’em coming! (And while you’re out there looking for astute film essays, don’t forget Roger Ebert.)

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Filed under Editorials, Features and Interviews, Film/TV, Reviews