Greg Kihn - vocals, guitar; Jay Carpentar - lead guitar; Gary Phillips - keyboards; Steve Wright - bass; Larry Lynch - drums
Put this recording together with the first of two great shows taped back-to-back at the Savoy in New York City in 1981 (also available at Wolfgang's Vault) and you will have the quintessential live Greg Kihn concert.
This show is the second of a two-show set held when Kihn was enjoying his biggest chart success. Kihn used the first show to get most of his obligatory gems out of the way, such as "Rendezvous," written for Kihn by his friend, Bruce Springsteen, and "Valerie." Early in the show he does a brilliant version of his biggest hit, "The Break-Up Song." But it is the covers that demonstrate how much Greg Kihn and his band love playing live music.
Being a former disc-jockey (he has since returned to his radio gig), Kihn he has always had great knowledge and sense of musical material. In this show he does memorable versions of Tommy Roe's 1962 hit, "Sheila," Jackie Wilson's R&B classic "Higher And Higher," Del Shannon's "Runaround Sue," the Who's "Magic Bus," the '60s youth anthem, "Things To Come," Jonathon Richmond's "Roadrunner," the Velvet Underground classic, "Sweet Jane," and the 1960 instrumental classic "Telstar."
Kihn, an aspiring singer-songwriter who had migrated from his native Baltimore, Maryland to San Francisco in 1974, had spent time as a disc jockey while developing his own musical chops. Shortly after landing in the Bay Area, Kihn became one of the first artists signed to Matthew Kaufman's fledgling indie label, Beserkley Records. Beserkley had some initial success with such artists as Jonathan Richman and Earth Quake, but it would be Kihn, with his keen sense of radio-friendly melodies, that would go on to become Beserkley's best-selling artist. After a slot on a popular Beserkley compilation, Kihn formed the first version of the Greg Kihn Band with Ronnie Dunbar on guitar and backing vocals, Steve Wright on bass, and Larry Lynch on drums.
Kihn would stay with Beserkley for a decade, and the success of his later hit singles, "The Break Up Song" and "Jeopardy," would secure a major label distribution deal for the cutting edge record company from the late-1970s onward. By 1985, Kihn's popularity began to wane and he started working with smaller labels, such as Clean Cuts, out of his native Baltimore. He returned to the Bay Area to work as a morning DJ, and kept touring sporadically through the 1990s. He launched a third career as a successful novelist and author in 1996. His first book, Horror Show, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award.