Review Summary: Blues rock never sounded pricklier.
Cactus was a band that formed in the early 1970s and specialized in a type of music that isn’t easy to find unless you go down south: Blues rock. There are a few artists who have managed to pull off blues rock a few times and get right. Examples include Led Zeppelin, who emerged from a blues foundation as hard rock heroes. Another example is Black Sabbath, which had an exceptional influence of blues rock in their self-titled debut in 1970. There is one band, however, which seemed to it more than just right. They made it fun, catchy, and interesting. That rock group is Cactus.
In their self-titled debut album, Cactus seems to deliver the most effective blues rock kick, delivering instant action in certain songs, such as Parchman Farm, which goes straight into a break-speed blues cover, played incredibly well. They’re not only just good at upbeat blues rock; Cactus is also good at creating some pretty nice slow smooth jazz rock, which can be heard in No Need to Worry. This song is like the pre-runner to an even better song by Led Zeppelin, called Since I’ve Been Loving You, thus being a great example of Cactus paving the way for other highly prominent rock groups.
Cactus also delivers some pretty trippy lyrics, going from a classic western tales to modern off the rail city stories. Take for example; if you look at My Lady From South of Detroit, you get a fun, light-hearted tale about a man who misses his lady from…well, south Detroit:
She’s my lady from south of Detroit
And we met quite a few years ago
I remember her beauty,
her taste and her charms
Oh, how could I forget
holding her in my arms
My lady from south of Detroit
And even though sometimes she’s bad
I’m so sorry she’s gone
Cause my memory lives on
She’s the best lover I’ve ever had
In most terms, Cactus’s deliverance of folk tale lyricism is the most effective advantage in this album. Chances are, the listener will quickly learn each song and almost become a part of the music just by listening to it over and over. This is really what Cactus did well in their self-titled debut.
Cactus is good at something important: mind before matter. They often put their money into the art of lengthy jazz improv, blistery blues riffs and classic Western structure. In reality, all of this is part of what gives Cactus a pricklier rock sound. As another plus, the solos done in this album are nicely abrasive, pounding, agile, and are simple for the listener to get a grip of without feeling overwhelmed. But that’s hardly the best of what Cactus is all about.
Cactus is more about the group as a whole rather than any single member by themselves. They really feed off each other’s work, allowing the music to flirt really well with genre they chose and create an enjoyable atmosphere. Take for example, the guitarist develops a nice sense of balance with the bassist and the drummer, creating a mix of exuberance and a nice chemistry altogether. The vocalist can also seem to find his way and role in his group pretty well. This creates an excellent universal mood, which is an amazing blue-jazz rock album.
In the end, Cactus’s debut was a test of team chemistry done well. It was also a test of whether they could successfully pioneer the blues genre to mix with rock, which they also succeeded in. Finally, they did a great job in gripping the listener’s mind with some quite memorable music and lyrics. It is safe to say that Cactus was mostly a success in the blues world, and that’s all that mattered to them at the time.