Everything I've read points to timing issues. Start with static timing, vacuum disconnected. Set it to factory specs but it is probably somewhere around 8-10 deg BTDC. Then connect your vaccum line and your timing light and rev it up. You should see the distributor advance about another 24 or 25 degs. This should be there before 3000 rpm. The advance should be fairly linear, no quick spikes of advance.
The kick back when hot tells me maybe too much static advance.
You can get a motor to start with the timing way off, but it just won't perform well across the rpm range. Another indication of bad advance settins is when you can't get the motor to idle down.