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Cactus - Black Dawn album review

Still prickly

Cover art for Cactus - Black Dawn album

There was nothing very complicated about Cactus, even in their early 70s heyday, but they did their thunderous heavy rock well enough to be touted as the US’s answer to Zep.

This is the second time Carmine Appice has reformed the band; the first was in 2006 with original bassist Tim Bogert and guitarist Jim McCarty and new singer Jimmy Kunes plus harmonica player Randy Pratt. This time Bogert appears twice but Appice’s trademark driving beat and McCarty’s simple but effective solos with choruses to match keep the spirit of Cactus topped up. Vocals were never the band’s strong point but Kunes’ could be regarded as an improvement. And Pratt’s heavy harmonica adds variety.

They’re not afraid of a direct comparison either: the last two tracks are previously unreleased from the original band, including the wild jam, C-70 Blues.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.