The A’s were Philly’s first group of hit-makers who didn’t come from Gamble & Huff’s R&B traditionalism or the psychedelic soul of Hall & Oates. The toast of K&A was a bunch of punks with a thing for anthemic vibes, big choruses and snorting solos. The A’s were serious fun. Cocksure vocalist Richard Bush and keyboardist Rocco Notte wrote 99 percent of the band’s impertinent smashes (including “A Woman’s Got the Power,” “C.I.A.” and, my fave, “Teenage Jerk Off”) and guitarist Rick DiFonzo made them roar. Unlike so many acts of the late ’70s/early ’80s, the A’s didn’t push their legend down your throat. And now it’s done.
“We see this as an opportunity to come back one last time and show everyone what we can do while we can still do it,” says the always wry DiFonzo. “We were always a spontaneous live band and a well-oiled machine. You never knew what you were going to get with things evolving night to night. We were exciting to see, and can still be, but excitement wears off if you do it every week. We were never good at faking it. Our fans saw us for what we were — a bunch of punky young wankers having a great time. That’s hard to recapture.”
Rather than playing past what DiFonzo sees as the band’s “sell-by” date, the A’s — who last reunited in 2007 — would rather go out on a high-energy note. “There is nothing sadder than trying to rock when you’re an octogen-arian,” he says “We do not want to be the Jefferson Wheelchair Band.” Exchanging notes during the A’s rehearsals, DiFonzo (who’s busy rushing to release his album instruMENTAL “in time to sell three copies at the show”) was crazily enthusi-astic about what the band can still accomplish; “We sound like ourselves and look like our grandparents.”
Sat., Jan. 26, 9 p.m., $25 (early meet-and-greet $75), Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 215-624-5765, undergroundarts.org.