I was pleasantly surprised recently to learn that two albums by the talented but under-appreciated Katrina and The Waves were being reissued complete with previously unreleased bonus tracks. I was doubly surprised to learn that one of the group’s mainstays, guitarist, songwriter, and sometimes vocalist Kimberley Rew, was also re-releasing two albums from prior to his Katrina days.
Kimberley Rew first came to the attention of the music world as a member of The Soft Boys from 1978-1980. His guitar play provided a good counterpoint to the group’s leader, Robyn Hitchcock.
The Bible Of Bop catches Rew in between his work with The Soft Boys and Katrina and The Waves and, as such, reflects the styles of both. His music did not have the gloss and sophistication that it would attain a couple of years later, but it was moving in that direction. Released in 1981, it would be his only solo release until the year 2000.
The Soft Boys, including Hitchcock, are the backing band for three of the album’s tracks. “Stomping All Over The World” features his unique jangling guitar and a nice vocal. “Nothing’s Going To Change” is very raw and has an almost unfinished feel.” And “Fighting Someone’s War” is very similar to the sound of The Soft Boys.
The album’s lead track, “The Nightmare,” features a vocal by Katrina Leskanich (of Katrina and The Waves). Rew is a very competent vocalist but Leskanich is a great one and even this early track shows how her vocals and his guitar and songwriting ability worked well together. Their other track together, “Hey War Pig,” is less successful as it never settles into the style which would attain in their future.
The last three tracks from the original release, on which he is backed by the db’s, are the least successful when taken as a whole. The best of these is the frenetic “My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long,” which features some more stinging guitar work.
On the other hand, the three bonus tracks are excellent. “Give Me Some Of That Love” and “I’m Amazed” are catchy power pop while “Animal Song” has a heavy percussion foundation and amusing lyrics. Why these were left off the original release I have no idea, but they would have made it much stronger and it’s nice to have them finally see the light of day.
Kimberley Rew is now over three decades into a career that has embraced several types of styles and not a little brilliance along the way. The Bible Of Bop catches him at the crossroads of his career and contains some interesting, very good music.