Tag Archives: Tim Bogert

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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Blast From The Past: Cactus

As much as I love new bands that are plowing and mining their Dad’s record collections – there are worse things than reinventing Humble Pie, Zeppelin and The Faces – it would be nice to go back and give credit to the lesser known masters. For me, that’s Cactus.

Here’s a review of the recently released live album plus a link to a feature I wrote for Pop Culture Press when I interviewed Carmine Appice. You really need to get the DVD of the show I saw in NYC a couple of summers ago, but hopefully something will finally surface featuring Rusty Day and a fearless Jim McCarty lighting crowds on fire.


Blow your mind in color

Blow your mind in color


Fully Unleashed: The Live Gigs, Vol. 2 (Rhino Handmade) 


The miracle continues. After 35+ years of existing primarily in the rapidly deteriorating brain cells of those who witnessed the magic, Rhino Handmade has added the third two-CD collection of rediscovered, remastered Cactus magic, this time from a barn-burning concert at a suburban Buffalo rock hole called Gilligan’s. A horribly recorded (and incomplete) bootleg has been circulating for years among collectors. But this version – recorded by Eddie Kramer on the Electric Ladyland mobile unit – is a sparkling and riveting document that should erase any doubt that Cactus were once the biggest baddest blues/boogie mofos walking the Earth.

Opening (as they often did) with a Fudge-like version of “Long Tall Sally”, this 1971 show finds the band blistering tracks from their first three albums as well as a couple of unrecorded rarities (“Mellow Down Easy”) and covers (“What’d I Say”). Augmented by second guitarist Ron Leejack, Jim McCarty got a chance to really cut loose on his solos; “Scrambler/One Way Or Another” is astounding. Between the heavy thunder of the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section, McCarty’s axe pyrotechnics and vocalist Rusty Day’s front man prowess, a mortal audience didn’t stand a chance. Sure there’s a drum solo – it is 1971, after all – but this bittersweet document will make you wonder what might have been if the core could have stuck it out a little longer. Wildman Day was soon forced out of the band, a frustrated McCarty then left to form/join The Rockets, and Bogert and Appice bailed after one more lineup to join Jeff Beck, which imploded even faster.

Rhino Handmade releases well made limited edition packages that often sell out quickly. The two prior Cactus sets, long out of print, fetch in excess of $100 on the market. I highly advise that interested parties grab this latest gem before they finish reading this magazine.

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