The 1970 self-titled debut from Long Island power-foursome Cactus has moments that are so hot it actually sounds like Jim McCarty‘s fingers are on fire while he’s playing. All the more fitting, then, that the unparalleled blues rocking LP should be the Album of the Summer of the Week. As if the album cover — more than a little suggestive — wasn’t scorching enough, listening to Carmine Appice rip into the fills on “Parchman Farm” or the band ease their way into the twanging grooves on “Bro. Bill?” Let’s face it, you could fry an egg on Cactus‘ Cactus and it would be the most delicious egg you’ve ever tasted.
“Let Me Swim” does Zeppelin better than Zeppelin, vocalist Rusty Day turning each verse into a chorus of its own, and the cool slowdown bassline from Tim Bogert makes “No Need to Worry” like a splash of cold water on the face before “Oleo” and “Feel So Good” bring the record to its good-time jamming finish. The atmosphere is sunny, natural and warm. Even the oft-coopted Willie Dixon cover, “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” (wasn’t that in car commercials or something?), sounds fresh every time I hear the album, and for its utter out-of-placeness, “My Lady From South of Detroit” is a great turn from “Parchman Farm” at the beginning of the album. Sorry, but there’s just nowhere to go wrong on this one.
Admittedly, this is something of a personal pick for me as well, as Cactus was one of the records in which I most immersed myself over the course of July 2010 when The Patient Mrs. and I stayed in Vermont for the month. As those were some of the best times I’ve ever had, it’s probably as good an association as I can have with for record, but even if you haven’t made your memories with it yet, these songs are bound to make an impression. Cactus put out two more albums with the Day/McCarty/Bogert/Appice lineup — 1971′s One Way… Or Another and 1972′s Restrictions — before the inevitable dissolution of the band as it was, but Cactus has a kind of magic to it that even they wouldn’t capture again, let alone anyone else stepping up to do so.
And in the summer, you just can’t beat it. In case you don’t have your original Atco vinyl handy, here’s “Let Me Swim” to cool the core:
Tags: Album of the Summer of the Week 2012, Cactus, Cactus band, Cactus Long Island, Cactus self-titled, Carmine Appice, Long Island, New York, Tim Bogert