The Black WatchView in iTunes
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The lone constant of California's long-running Black Watch is John Andrew Fredrick, an anglophile with a Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Since the late '80s, Fredrick has sporadically released well-regarded albums that have gained comparisons to the House of Love, the Go-Betweens, My Bloody Valentine, the Cure, American Music Club, Yo La Tengo, and late-'60s pop. Unable to secure a stable lineup since forming the group in 1987 (violinist/guitarist J'Anna Jacoby has been with the group since the late '80s) and unable to remain on a decent label for more than one release, Fredrick's talent as a writer and skill as a musician has gone unnoticed, aside from gaining admiration from a handful of underground journalists. Fredrick assembled the first lineup of the Black Watch after finishing college. After recording a brief demo and opening for the Church and Toad the Wet Sprocket, the band more or less went their own way. Later in 1987, Fredrick put together a new band and recorded the full-length St. Valentine, releasing it on his own Eskimo label. That lineup dissolved shortly after its release, and Fredrick soon picked up another batch of people to play with. Most importantly, a chance meeting between Fredrick and Jacoby (who has also played mandolin for the likes of John Tesh and Rod Stewart) lead to the permanence of a second full-time Black Watch member. The vinyl-only Short Stories EP was released in 1989, with Dr. Dream picking them up for 1991's Flowering, ushering in another new rhythm section. "Terrific," one of the highlights of the album, gained considerable airplay on a number of major radio stations, but lack of label promotion thwarted the record's exposure. The Black Watch left Dr. Dream and signed with Zero Hour for 1995's Joe Chiccarelli-produced Amphetamines. Again, the record was well-received by those who heard it. Several lineup changes predated the Seven Rollercoasters EP, which was issued in 1997. The band went on hiatus for six months, while Fredrick finished a book about an indie band, entitled The King of Good Intentions. Henry Rollins' 2.13.61 publishing house intended to print it, until they realized that they didn't have the finances to do so. A companion record of the same name was released by Not Lame in 1999. Lime Green Girl was released the next year by Saltwater, which added seven songs from the band's history to the end of the record. The Christopher Smart EP was issued in 2001. ~ Andy Kellman