Lee’s Listening Stack: The Black Watch — ‘Led Zeppelin Five’
The Black Watch
Led Zeppelin Five
The Eskimo Record Label
As an outlet for John Andrew Fredrick’s musical ambitions, the Black Watch has been around for the better part of the last 25 years, despite rotating line-ups and only occasional record label interest. To his credit, Fredrick’s managed to persevere, pursuing his muse while maintaining a teaching position at the University of California in Santa Monica. Brushing aside the scholarly approach of his day job, Frederick opts for easy engagement and a tuneful tack that emphasizes gorgeous pop melodies imbued with psychedelic suggestion. The end result sounds like a fanciful combination of the Soft Boys’ spectral ambiance and the sweep and spectacle of the Moody Blues. Yet while the concept may seem retro, it never comes across like a rehash.
That conclusion seems especially well founded on Led Zeppelin Five, its inexplicable title likely the result of some inside joke. There’s ample evidence of Fredrick’s forte found on “How Much about Love,” “Emily, Are You Sleeping” and “Earl Grey Tea,” songs that allow his anglophile inclinations to be swept to the fore. And while the lithe and lilting “Like in the Movies” and the smooth, genial caress of “The Maid’s Been Found” and “Only Lasted” provide the few moments of repose, the set’s so irrefutably engaging over all, even the slower tracks don’t diffuse the momentum. The recruitment of an actual band – which, besides Fredrick, now also includes guitarist Steven Schayer, drummer Rick Woodard and bassist Scott Taylor – should help further Fredrick’s creative designs and perhaps even encourage some wider acclaim. Not surprisingly then, Led Zeppelin Five boasts the kind of luster and allure that continues to make the Black Watch tick. – Lee Zimmerman
Lee Zimmerman is a contributor to a variety of publications, including Blurt, M Music & Musicians, New Times, Goldmine and Amplifier
This review appears courtesy of Amplifier, 50,000 Watts of Non-Stop Indie Rock http://amplifiermagazine.blogspot.com/