Happy Anniversary: Cactus, One Way...Or Another
43 years ago today, the band called Cactus released their sophomore studio effort, One Way...Or Another. Granted, given the band’s relatively limited chart success over the years, this is an anniversary which may have escaped many of you, but it’s one that certainly has the potential to make fans of ‘70s hard rock grin.
With Vanilla Fudge winding down their initial run in the wake of their fifth album, 1969’s Rock & Roll, drummer Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert had made plans to join forces with Jeff Beck, but when that plan fell apart after Beck was involved in a nasty car accident, the duo instead teamed up with guitarist Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels) and singer Rusty Day (the Amboy Dukes) to form Cactus, releasing their self-titled debut in July 1970.
One Way...Or Another followed a similar template to its predecessor by offering eight tracks – six originals, two covers – and kicking off the proceedings with one from the latter column, in this case a hard and heavy take on Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” The other cover, a version of Chuck Willis’s “Feel So Bad,” is more than serviceable, but it’s really the originals that are the stars of this show, with highlights including “Rock ‘n’ Roll Children,” “Big Mama Boogie – Pts. 1 & 2,” and the title track, which closes the album in suitably kick-ass fashion.
The foursome of Appice, Bogert, McCarty, and Day recorded one more album together, 1971’s Restrictions, before McCarty quit the group and Day was fired. While Appice and Bogert rebuilt the lineup to include guitarist Werner Fritzschings and keyboardist Duane Hitchings and drafted Peter French (Atomic Rooster) as their new frontman, they still only soldiered on for one further release, 1972’s partly-live, partly-studio ‘Ot ‘n’ Sweaty. After that, Cactus disbanded, but few tears were shed, as it meant that – to bring this whole story full circle – Appice and Bogert were free to finally team up with the fully-recovered Jeff Beck for the appropriately-titled Beck, Bogert & Appice album.
If you’re interested in hearing how Cactus sounded in concert during their heyday, consider picking up a copy of Rhino Handmade’s Fully Unleased: The Live Gigs, Vol. 2, For the moment, though, you can just enjoy the opportunity to revisit the album that’s celebrating its 43rd anniversary today and hear how well it’s held up…and, no, we’re not being facetious. (There’s a reason why bands from Aerosmith to the Black Keys have cited Cactus as a sonic influence.)