Next Of Kihn

Greg Kihn

Beserkley, 1978

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


One of the hallmarks of my music listening back in the late ’70s and early ’80s (e.g. high school and college) is that I often favored one side of an album heavily over the other. Just ask Next Of Kihn, the third album from the Bay Area’s own Greg Kihn and band—if my copy of the album could speak, the grooves on side one would have clear bragging rights over the side two. Sorry / not sorry?

With the group’s lineup now solidified as Kihn (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Wright (bass, harmony vocals), Larry Lynch (drums, harmony vocals) and Dave Carpender (lead guitar)—to the point where the album following this one would rechristen them as the Greg Kihn Band—they delivered one of the strongest albums sides of their young career. Electing to forego the cover tunes that had been featured on both previous albums, and would continue to pop up for the rest of the band’s run, the band recorded a clean slate of eight Kihn compositions for Next Of Kihn, a strategy that resulted in longer individual songs, a shorter overall run time, and mixed results both musically and on the business end.

The band tears into tight, driving 2:40 opener “Cold Hard Cash,” a pure hoot of a garage rocker that features all four guys playing with abandon as Kihn attempts to collect from a reluctant employer: “Gimme my money / Cold Hard Cash / Why you actin’ so funny? / Don’t be rash / Just gimme gimme my money / Cold Hard Cash.” The grin hasn’t had a chance to fall from your face before they launch headlong into “Museum,” another cheeky rocker with an infectious sing-along chorus and muscular, memorable Carpender solo.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

After two straight thumping rockers, the band takes a hard left for “Remember,” an extended, airy 6:30 jam that’s all atmosphere, featuring Carpender’s clean, searching electric lead over Kihn’s elaborately picked acoustic rhythm. Lynch anchors the song in a complex, loping-yet-stutter-stepping beat, with Wright holding out for a full minute before coming in with both a laser-sighted bassline and breathy harmony vocals. Out front, Kihn matches one of his strongest lyrics with an outstanding lead vocal performance that’s as restrained as “Cold Hard Cash” is raucous. Lynch says there’s “magic” in this recording, and it’s hard to argue; the song is not just the best on the album but among the best of Kihn’s career.

Side one closes with another rocker, the energetic yet mysterious “Chinatown,” complete with fireworks both figurative (Carpender’s fiery solo) and literal (exploding firecrackers) at the close. If only that momentum had carried over to the flip side…

Side two opener “Sorry” feels like a step backwards, a rather lightweight bit of retro guitar-pop that would have fit better on the previous year’s Greg Kihn Again. The similarly flavored “Everybody Else” goes for lilting melancholy but ends up feeling like a bland pastiche of better songs. “Understander” paints in darker colors, featuring haunting layered harmonies out of a mid-’60s Hollies album for the first three minutes before devolving into a heavier coda that again features the four players grooving hard together while Carpender solos on top. Closer “Secret Meetings” follows suit tonally with a heavy mid-tempo attack from the start, going for a dark and anxious vibe that’s evocative without ever going anywhere special.

Next Of Kihn ends up feeling like half a great album, with the four excellent songs clustered on side one followed by another four that misfire as often as they click. What’s consistent from start to finish is the way the four players lock in together, their musical intuition and harmony attack honed by two straight years of steady touring. Beginning with their group’s next album this unit would be known as the Greg Kihn Band, and deservedly so.

Rating: B

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