Cactus

Cactus V

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There were probably fewer people clamoring for this Cactus reunion in 2006 than for a Vanilla Fudge or Beck, Bogert & Appice one, but that didn't stop the famed plodding rhythm section from giving it another go. Original Cactus lead singer Rusty Day passed in 1982, but the core trio of bassist Tim Bogert, drummer Carmine Appice, and guitarist Jim McCarty recruited singer Jimmy Kunes and let fly with this hourlong set of forceful, sweaty blues-rock. Cactus were never known for their subtlety, and the simplistically titled V doesn't challenge the group's historically predictable game plan as it plows through familiar terrain with requisite enthusiasm but a lack of the imagination and creativity that made even minor guilty pleasures such as 1971's Restrictions catalog highlights. It's unfair to criticize Cactus for not working outside of the boogie rock boundaries they established on their releases over three decades earlier, but the derivative vocals of Kunes make the quartet now seem like a second-rate AC/DC. Songs such as "Muscle and Soul" have neither, despite the band's best intentions. McCarty's Jimmy Page-styled guitar works all the clich├ęs, but the riffs don't resonate and the songs never rise above their Humble Pie roots. "Cactus Music"'s chorus of "Raise your hands up to the music/Rock! Rock!/Gettin' down with Cactus music/Never wanna stop" is symbolic of the group's modest goals on this overlong comeback. The band's remaining but dwindling grizzled followers might find some of this reminiscent of previous glories, but for younger fans of the genre, more contemporary acts such as Gov't Mule offer far better alternatives.

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