Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cactus - TKO Tokyo - Live In Japan

Cactus jams hard!! By far the best show I've seen in the past few years was when Cactus blew the roof off BB Kings in Times Square last August. I have been listening to the vintage live tapes that Rhino released in 2004 pretty much non-stop for 10 years but I wasn't fully prepared for their full on live assault. Jimmy McCarty's blistering guitar work and the truly incredible drumming of Carmine Appice is just something you gotta see to fully appreciate. I walked out of the show thinking "shit, I'd buy a copy of that show if they released it."

Well this new live in Japan release is the next best thing. 2 CD's and a DVD of a full show from 2012 in Tokyo. Jimmy starts off "Long Tall Sally" by torturing his Gibson Les Paul by cranking it up through an Ampeg Scrambler (makes all the notes go up 1 octave). What a guitarist! Monster players like Eddie Van Halen and Ted Nugent have gone on record many times about what an influence he's been on them. When Carmine comes thundering in the band hits its stride and makes room for the powerhouse vocals of Jimmy Kunes. Original Cactus vocalist Rusty Day is long gone (brutally murdered in 1982) but Jimmy is a great frontman in his own right. (His classic rock tribute nights at American Trash on the upper east side of NYC are sorely missed. He'd get together with some of his talented friends and tear it loose on Deep Purple and Free jams). Bassist Tim Bogert is retired but Pete Bremy lays it down big time. Randy Pratt takes over Rusty's killer harmonica playing with some of his own. This is a very tight band but loose enough to go in any direction the jam wants to go.

All the Cactus classics are here - "Let Me Swim" (Van Halen took the intro of Jimmy's solo as a starting point for "Erruption"), "Bro. Bill," "Big Mama Boogie," and a balls out version of "One Way Or Another." Cactus were masters of rearranging rock and blues songs and their arrangements of "You Can't Judge a Book By The Cover," "Parchman Farm." and Carmine's showpiece "Evil." In 2006 Cactus releases an album called Cactus V and they jam out on "Muscle & Soul," "The Groover" and "Electric Blue."

If you like your boogie full throttle and high energy than you've probably been partying to Cactus for years. They still play shows and festivals occasionally. Hopefully there will be some more real soon. I'm dying to watch the masters McCarty and Appice up close again. Until then, this will have to do. BOOGIE!

- Woody

"Parchman Farm" live in Tokyo

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