Released: 2008, Small Stone Records
Take the world’s biggest Cult fan, cross him with a Southern rocker, and throw them in a blender with a ‘70s rock producer and you may just come out the other side with Gideon Smith. Quite a mixture I know, but for an ex-roadie who has seen it all over the years, it’s just another day at the office. Although the band formed in 1997, they’ve spent more time touring than recording, as SOUTH SIDE OF THE MOON is only the band’s second album, despite several appearances on tribute albums etc.
As I said, it’s clear that Mr. Smith is a big fan of the Cult, not only their iconic songs like “She Sells Sanctuary”, but also their more mystical side, going back to their time as The Southern Death Cult. Besides which, Smith’s vocals also recall Ian Astbury at times. This album is more than a Cult tribute, however. That may be the base, but Smith builds on that with blues, southern rock, and ‘70s-styled stoner rock. I mean, you’d never hear the Cult playing a low-slung blues like “Black Cat Road”.
While the pedigree of the music is undeniable, getting through SOUTH SIDE OF THE MOON can be a difficult proposition. Smith’s vocals are a love it or hate it drawl, and coupled with the often hookless riffs can make listening to the album a chore. So much so that when I first listened to it, I was thinking of a score in the 1/5 range. Obviously further listens have raised the score and my enjoyment, and who knows how much more I’ll like the album after even more spins. For now though, this is an album to be respected, but not often enjoyed.