For the last two weeks, every time I’ve listened to Green Day’s cover of “Another State Of Mind,” this has been the next tune. They really sound great back to back. I recommend it.
Greg Kihn, lead singer and guitarist of The Greg Kihn Band, has had a long and colorful career in the arts as a musician, DJ and novelist. Led by Kihn, the band was one of the most successful acts on the Berserkly Records label. Unfortunately, they had just enough success to relegate them to “could have been” status in the popular imagination, as opposed to label-mate Jonathan Richman who achieved virtually no commercial success and is now considered a seminal artist.
Life is not fair. Kihn and crew deserved better. I’ve listened to (but not downloaded) a bunch of their other songs in the last couple of weeks and am pleased to report that they were a creative, talented band that deserved both more commercial and critical adulation than they received.
At least they had one huge hit and one absolute classic song. The classic song, of course, is this one, “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)” from their 1981 album Rockihnroll (for a long time, all of their album titles included a pun on the Kihn’s name). A staple of classic rock radio now, at the time it was a piece of pure pop rock perfection.
I have a theory that sometimes a band is rewarded for a great song that doesn’t chart well when their next (somewhat lesser) song becomes a huge hit. The classic example of this is The Romantics, who did not break the top 40 with their amazing “What I Like About You,” but did have a huge hit with their next song, the comparably wimpy “Talking In Your Sleep.” Kihn’s next single, which we’ll address in a moment, was huge.
This song has it all – a great guitar hook and a great “uh uh uh” vocal hook, a fantastic sing-a-long chorus that evokes a better time in music, and a band playing like they’re having the best time of their life. Its really classic rock and roll through and through. Indeed, in regards to “The Breakup Song,” they really don’t write ‘em like that anymore. I suspect that’s been written about a million times in the last thirty years.