Melting Pot

Cactus – You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
Cactus – Let Me Swim
Cactus – Feel So Good

Recently saw this at Records LA and just had to pick up for old times sake. For a very long time I had searched for a song for this record, without knowing what it was. Back in high school I used to make tapes of favorite radio programs, one of them, WREK’s Stonehenge, focused on obscure 1960s/70s psychedelic rock and played this song, but my tape ran out before I was able to find out who was playing a monster of a cut towards the end. I knew from the sound the group had to be from between 1968 and 1974, and the lyrics seemed like it was a version of a Willie Dixon song, but other than that I drew blanks for years. No one I played it for, and I must have played that tape for 10 real knowledgeable DJs in Atlanta and Berkeley, could tell what it was.

Eventually through checking, Billboard and a few other resources I was able to narrow it down to a couple records, including this one. When I originally tracked it down at the Record Man, I had a feeling this would be the one and indeed it was, the monster version of “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” that is included here. All the while I had that first copy I was so addicted to that one song, I barely listened to the rest. It’s only in owning this record a second time that I really appreciate what a big-time rocker it is.

Don't these dudes just look like they'd ROCK!

Cactus was supposed to have been a massive super group, featuring the rhythm section from Vanilla Fudge plus Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. Things didn’t work out that way, but they got some very able replacements, Rusty Day from the Amboy Dukes and Jim McCarty from Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. McCarty must have felt like he needed to prove himself, stepping into Beck’s shoes in a group that hadn’t even recorded and buddy just goes off on this record. You need no further testament to that than “Let Me Swim,” on this severely overlooked gem of an American rock record. My tunnel-vision for “Can’t Judge A Book” kept me from noticing the rather nice drum solo and multiple breaks on “Feel So Good,” things get a little too bass drum rockin’, but when Appice brings it back with some Krupa inspired work, it does indeed feel so good. Goes to show you that it always pays to not be so focused on one track from what is supposed to be a one track record, sometimes you just need to let it rock.



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