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Cactus

An Evening in Tokyo

Review by Gary Hill

This live album from Cactus was recorded in 2012. The band includes Carmine Appice, Jim McCarty and Jimmy Kunes. These guys produce such a powerhouse slab of bluesy rock that it’s amazing. They really create some awesome music here. It never falters and never fails. If you like your hard rock with plenty of blues in the mix, this is your kind of thing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Swim

This hard rocker is riff driven and very classic in sound. It’s a real screamer and works really well.

One Way...Or Another
Some smoking hot guitar starts us off here. This has a killer hard edged sound that’s almost metal. In some ways this feels a little like Black Sabbath mixed with Montrose. The mellower jam mid-track, though, brings it into jam band meets jazz territory. It makes me think of Canned Heat a bit. When it gets into a more powered up jam from there it makes me think of Grand Funk Railroad in some ways. They bring it back out to the earlier section after a while, but it seems even more intense when they do. I love the guitar soloing that ensues. This killer piece is extensive, weighing it at over nine and a half minutes.
Bro. Bill
Although harmonica was included on the previous tune a bit, it features prominently as this bluesy rocker opens. This is a lot like the blues based hard rock that was so popular in the 1970s. It’s very classic in sound. Yet, it’s also timeless. The audience gets some vocal bits in the course of this one.
You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover
This one has a bit of a Zeppelin vibe to my ear. The harmonica, though, and the whole thing really, brings some serious blues sound to the proceedings. There’s an extended jam that’s pretty intense on this cut. It’s another that passes the nine minute mark.
Alaska
This is the most traditional blues tune we’ve heard. In fact, it’s really a pretty pure electric blues jam.
Electric Blue
Psychedelia is definitely on the table with this space rocker. It’s got more of that Montrose like hard rock sound, too, though. It’s a nice change from the more decidedly blues like stuff. It’s also a very strong piece of music. We get some killer melodic guitar soloing in the middle of this beast.
Muscle and Soul
This one again reminds me of the Montrose school of rock based on blues. It’s got some great riffing and a killer rock and roll vocal line. There’s some great bass playing on this thing. This one has some great slide guitar. It’s another extended jam.
Evil
This screaming hot hard rocker is amongst the best of the set. It’s just such a powerhouse and the entire band seems to be on fire on this one. There’s a drum solo built into this one. I’m not a huge fan of drum solos, so while Carmine Appice is a great drummer and it’s a solid solo, I could have done with a little less of it. If you are more inclined to enjoy drum solos, your mileage is likely to vary.
Parchman Farm
We get a fiery hot jam on this one. It lands in the same blues based, riff driven hard rock as most of the disc does. It’s never tired, though.
Rock N Roll Children
A harmonica solo starts us off here. The drums join after a bit. It’s almost two minutes in before anything else is added to the mix. Even then, it’s only tentatively. The guitar joins in earnest around the two and a half minute mark and we’re out into another killer hard rocking jam from there.
 
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