Joe Black has poured the concrete for Charlie Farren’s Balloon and Black’s other main group, Ball ‘n’ Chain, for decades now, keeping the foundation for some of Boston’s best hard rock.
On Armageddon, the single from the first Joe Black solo disc, the bassist gives the fans what John Entwistle, Bill Wyman and Paul McCartney initiated years before, another musical perspective from the guiding rhythmic hand of the band.
“It only takes a few bad apples/to burn it to the ground” gives you a sense of the dire warnings in “Armageddon.” Starting off with early Jethro Tull-esque guitar strums the song explodes into power chords till the bleak, apocalyptic threat is revealed. Produced by Black and his Ball ‘n’ Chain guitarist/engineer, Aart Knyff the musicians on the CD single are: vocalist Jeffrey Baker, guitarist Johnny Press, drummer/keyboards Dave Pontbriand and Kenny Kalayjian (from Balloon) on mandolins. Joe Black is on bass on these two compositions.
“Love Goes on Forever” begins with magical jazz inspired flavorings, think Pat Metheny meets Rush, outer space ACHR (Adult Contemporary Hard Rock) with absolutely lovely guitar phrasings from Press and an exquisite hook that comes cascading in. “Just like you and me/ beautiful indeed. Green mountains and blue seas, beautiful indeed.”
Jeff Baker has his own style with the tonal quality of Extreme’s Gary Cherone. Placed over a plodding (Joe Black) Sabbath tempo, the vital 70’s guitar leads abound and take control, the chorus then swelling up behind this terrific mix of sounds. Intricate changes give this power ballad some musical depth…and it is a beauty indeed.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.