Road Chill (Sound Asleep)
It took a relentless and determined label from Sweden to finally right a wrong by resurrecting the catalogue of The Accelerators, one of the great lost band of the past quarter century. Led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Gerald Duncan, the Raleigh based group released four records on three small labels, garnering some 80’s college and rock radio airplay but somehow never breaking through the ozone layer to more widespread public acclaim. Brethren like R.E.M. were giving indie music a new face, The Georgia Satellites and Jason and the Scorchers were crunching out Stones-oriented rock and MTV was making pretty faces into stars. Why no one picked up on a whip-smart, infectious group like The Accelerators is a mystery. There are those of us who savored every platter as manna from heaven, but if you don’t pine for E*I*E*I*O, The BoDeans, The Del Lords or Beat Rodeo, you were just too hip for the room, Mr. Depeche Mode.
Well, now you can atone for your sins. Sound Asleep records compiled Road Chill, a nineteen track sampler culled from the first three records. Maybe some name-dropping will help? Don Dixon produced the first record and was a big supporter, Mitch Easter slung some six-string, and Brad Rice joined the band for a while. But through it all, it was the music – crisp, jangling guitar power, snapping drums, hip-shaking bass and songs that would demand that the car windows went down and the volume went up. I’d stack up “Two Girls in Love”, “Boy and Girl” and “(Why You) Hang Up On Me” against most bands’ rock triads and cap it off with the bittersweet “Christmas This Year” just to bring you back down. The collection would be even stronger if they could have milked Nearer (the fourth album) for tracks like “Cry Like a Baby” and “The Killing Kind” but Sound Asleep plans to release that record separately.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to savor The Accelerators the first time around, the ball is in now in your court thanks to Swedish pop fan and label impresario Jerker Emanuelson. The remastered versions sound wonderful, certain to please the converted and whet the appetites of new pairs of ears.
Duncan is reportedly writing songs for a fifth album, the first new material since 2000, so hopefully we’ll have a new one to enjoy very soon. In the meantime, savor this collection.