domenica 10 luglio 2011

The Accelerators (1977-81)

The Accelerators were formed by Chris Martin (vocals, later Adams Family), Martin ‘Yarker’ Smith (guitar) (later Lawnmower), Kathy Freeman (a.k.a. Kathy Apathy, vocals, guitars, keyboards, later of the Innocents, Kathy-X, Joyride), Brian ‘Damage’ Harcombe (drums) (former Shop Soiled, Filibuster, Death Kit, Restless – with 4-part vocal harmony front line – two girl singers, a bass player who sang and a guitarist who sang, and they wrote their own material”, later Adams Family), and Graham Marsh (bass) very early on replaced by Tony Doyle (later Lawnmower, Adams Family, Cat Scratch Fever).

Freeman, Smith (who were an item at the time) and Martin were already in the Biggles Blues Band, playing blues-rock classics such as Dust My Broom, Johnny B. Goode, Roll over Beethoven, and got Harcombe to gig with them. When punk came around Harcombe decided to quit.

Harcombe recalls: ‘I’d seen the Clash, I’d cut my hair off, and I said ‘They are my idea of a blues band in 1977…’ Kathy had also listened to Clash stuff, and she’d written a song called Street Kids, and that made Chris the singer think ‘Oh, I’ll write a song.’ And he did do. And Anyway, I left the band. Next day or a day later, this amazing thing happened. Kathy and Martin and Chris came round to ours, they’d sat and talked into the night, and […] said ‘We’ve decided to come with you Bri’ […] We ended up as a 8 piece band – 5 musicians and 3 crew [Mike Walker (sound, driver), Chris Bray (backline, managing director at Spiv Records, the band’s record company) and Sandra (drum technician)]. Everyone in the band had to do more than their one job. It’s not logical, but I got the job of knowing about frequencies and impedances and how does the P.A. work. Kathy got the job of booking the gigs. She made the phone calls, she posted off the tapes, sent out flyers, all that end of things.’

As to the recruitment of Doyle on bass duties, Harcombe recalls: ‘We had a bass player for a few months [Graham Marsh], he was a student, we should have known better. He couldn’t handle it. We played Blackpool, and admittedly there was a big fight, it had ended in a bloodbath, and we had to drive home withy no windscreen in the van… we got home and Graham said he didn’t want to play any more. We put adverts around, in Probe and the NME, ‘Accelerators need a bass player, come down Tuesday night…’ Tuesday night, there’s a queue down the road where we rehearsed. We went through all these people, who could play really well… […] Then this young lad turned up, Tony Doyle, he was 17. […] Tony, he says ‘I’ve written this…’ and it was Reason for Treason. […] So he was in.’

This line-up released a five-track demotape (Have You Been Accelerated?) in April 1979 (Radio Blues / Hype Machine / Western Countries / Space Patrol / Broken Promises), and in September of the same year they appeared on the ‘Street to Street’ Compilation with the number ‘Radio Blues’.

Later the same year the Accelerators released their firs E.P.

Reason for Treason (1979)

a. Popguns And Green Latern

a. Liberate The Night

a. Broken Promises

b. Reason For Treason

b. Telepathic Romance

b. This Is Your Life

Harcombe: ‘ We recorded half of it at Open Eye, it was Noddy Knowler who was engineering, the equipment was abysmal, but it had a four-track sound, and we liked that. We also booked into Amazon in Kirkby. We recorded some tracks in there, and we got a brilliant record-quality sound. So one side is 4-track Open Eye, and the other side is Amazon’

The Accelerators gigged extensively in and around Liverpool. In 1979 Smith quit and was replaced by Lee Marles (later Motion Pictures, Funk-Meister).

In early 1980 Freeman was becoming increasingly tired, especially with the managing of the band.

‘Eventually the management side of it started to kill her, and this is horrible, but we didn’t notice… and one day she just said ‘I can’t do this any more.’ […] So everything stopped. Kathy, she was the sound of the Accelerators, she played rhythm guitar like a machine gun. She was the musical soul of the Accelerators. And she wrote at least a third of the great numbers we did. It was only when she’d had enough, that the band finished. It’s only when everything stops, that you realise you are totally exhausted.’

‘The Accelerators were going for four years, the last gig was July 4th, 1981 [at the Masonic]. We did our current set, and also played a lot of the original songs. We’d had over 200 songs. That night, we all came back to ours to sit around, and that night the Toxteth riots started and the Rialto burned down.’

After the split-up Lee Marles joined the Motion Pictues, Tony Doyle re-joined Martin Smith in the Lawnmower and Kathy Freeman joined the London-based The Innocents.


(All quotations from Florek / Whelan, Liverpool Eric’s, 334-341)

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