Greg Kihn Band

Beserkley Records, 1982

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


San Francisco Bay Area natives the Greg Kihn Band followed a trajectory right out of a novel—a form Kihn himself would later prove proficient at—in its rise from local retro-flavored power-pop favorites to regional hitmakers to brief national and international fame, before flaming out somewhere short of permanent orbit and falling back to earth.

Kihntinued, the 1982 entry in a string of punnily-titled releases from Kihn and band, was the bridge between the hook-heavy album that pushed the band from bars to theaters (1981’s RocKihnRoll, featuring the #15 hit single “The Breakup Song”) and the one that broke them nationwide and beyond (1983’s Kihnspiracy, featuring the #2 hit “Jeopardy”). It’s an album that found them reaching for a second hit and not finding it, but hardly failing either; it’s a solidly good outing from a band whose weaker moments always felt like part and parcel of their underdog charm.

The secret ingredient in any Kihn song is energy, and opener “Happy Man” has it in spades, a driving number about chasing your passion in a purposeful way, executed with panache by the dependably punchy team of Kihn (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Steve Wright (bass and harmony vocals), Larry Lynch (drums and harmony vocals), Dave Carpender (lead guitar) and Gary Phillips (keys). Anyone wondering about Kihn’s musical influences need only listen to the prominent handclaps in the earworm chorus; the man—who had covered both Buddy Holly and Bruce Springsteen by his second album—feels that early ’60s rock vibe down to his bones. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The rest of side one (my first copy was vinyl) features a string of Kihn staples: the intense, longing slow-burner (“Every Love Song”), the boisterous party tune (“Everyday Is Saturday Night”), the sweetly sincere ballad (“Dedication”), and the offbeat experiment (“Tell Me Lies” tries to make white reggae spooky, with mixed results).

Side two kicks off with one of the man’s best ever, the ringing anthem “Testify,” catchy from the first chord as it builds to a crescendo that Kihn punctuates at the fade with the playful coda “Take yer shoes off.” Unfortunately, “Sound System” follows with a stumble, another attempt at reggae that ends up sounding forced and awkward. “Seeing Is Believing” is vintage Kihn in its intensity but doesn’t have much going for it beyond that edge. Closing out the album, Larry Lynch takes the lead vocal for the one cover here, an exuberant run at the Jackie Wilson classic “Higher And Higher,” before Kihn literally brings it home with the gentle ballad “Family.”

Kihntinued includes all the trappings of the well-received albums that preceded and followed it, lacking only one critical ingredient: a hit single. Either “Happy Man” or “Testify” coulda shoulda filled that bill, but for whatever reason neither caught fire at radio. In the aftermath, lead guitarist Carpender, a reliable presence since 1977’s Greg Kihn Again, exited and was replaced by fellow Bay Area scene veteran Greg Douglass. The band would never be quite the same, trading some of the muscle and fun of their earlier work for sheen and polish. They would score that one big hit, alright, but nothing the GKB produced after Kihntinued ever delivered quite the same joy and impact.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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