Music Review: Ball ‘n Chain “Different Strokes”

For fans of solid metal pop that was the mainstay of groups like Quiet Riot, Ratt and other architects of hard music, Boston veteran Joe Black and his band, Ball ‘n’ Chain, have come up with a top notch outing that begs repeated spins.   When Black was bassist for Balloon (a band featuring Charlie Farren, who would go on to the Joe Perry Project), they rocked the local venues like the Club in Cambridge. Check out a 1978 video on YouTube with the boys creating a menacing neo-death metal goes prog/rock rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Green Manalishi”(With The Two-Pronged Crown)…deeper than Judas Priest’s take on Peter Green’s notorious song around that same time period.

If anything, Ball ‘n’ Chain takes what Ratt did years before and brings it to an entirely new level.  “What Comes Around, Goes Around” could be a harder, nastier sequel to Ratt’s “Round and Round”.  Opening track “Strokes” sets the theme, “different strokes for different folks”, a bossey – almost Farren-esque – excursion into high powered guitar, bass and drums.  The songs are anthems, “All Hang Out” a case in point, “Sink the Rig” continuing the mayhem with effective backing vocals that glide along with the guitar work.  Legendary Aart Knyff is on guitars and vocals, Joe Black on bass, vocals and scruboard, Tom D’Amico playing multi keyboards, John “Billy Bam Bam” on drums, percussion, and vox with Jeffrey Baker on lead vocals.

The ten tunes make for a satisfying journey into the future from one of the great New England area acts that roamed the suburbs and never got the acclaim they deserved in Boston proper. “Don’t Play With Fire” concludes the set with rocking elegance.  Good job!

Win or Lose
Cryin’ Shame
All Hang Out
What Comes Around, Goes Around
Only A Fool
Real Woman
Sink The Rig
Baby Blues
Don’t Play With Fire

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for, and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.