If you know the name Kimberley Rew, give yourself a gold star. You’re hipper than most when it comes to tuneful and catchy rock music. And you know, too, that Rew deserves acclaim far wider than he has so far achieved. That said, he has in fact garnered some significant and high-profile accomplishments.
Chronologically first among these is the writing of “Going Down to Liverpool.” He recorded the song with his band Katrina and the Waves, and released it as a b-side twice. But the song gained a second (okay, third) life when the Bangles covered it on their major-label debut, All Over the Place. The song was a minor hit in the UK and became a staple of the Bangles’ set.
Rew’s second brush with fame came when a song he wrote for Katrina and the Waves did become a hit. The bouncy and upbeat “Walking on Sunshine” soared into the top 20 in no less than ten countries, and re-entered the charts in various countries at least twice in later years.
Admittedly less known in the U.S., the annual Eurovision Song Contest is nonetheless a big deal in many other countries. And Kimberley Rew wrote “Love Shine a Light,” winner of the UK spot in the Eurovision contest in 1997. It, too, was a Katrina and the Waves recording.
People familiar in greater depth with Rew’s work will tell you that he has (at the very least) two other claims to fame. He was a founding member of the Soft Boys with Robyn Hitchcock, and he made an outstanding solo EP in 1982 called The Bible of Bop. A testament to his stature among the coolest of the cool, he was backed variously on that EP by The dB’s, the Soft Boys and the Waves (the pre-Katrina Leskanich lineup of that band).
Here I will abruptly shift gears and relate a quick story: in late May and early June of this year, I was fortunate to find myself at the Cavern Pub in Liverpool. I was part of a band playing at the power pop festival there. The bill featured something on the order of 100 acts – each playing a set at the legendary Cavern Club and its sister venue, the Cavern Pub, located directly across on narrow Mathew Street.
When I first arrived, I took a seat with my pint of ale, ready to enjoy whatever random act took the tiny stage at the Pub. A couple came in and began setting up. A new friend – one makes friends quickly at the Cavern, I discovered – introduced me to the male half of the couple. It was Kimberley Rew.
I was, to put it mildly, gobsmacked. Here I was in the presence of a songwriting giant. All I could think to say to him was that I was a serious fan of The Bible of Bop, and that I had bought the record many, many, many years ago. Kimberley seemed both pleased and amused, making a comment to the effect of “you’re one of the few who’s heard it” or somesuch.
He and his lovely wife Lee Cave-Berry took to the stage and played a wonderful, thrilling set of songs, pointedly including the heretofore mentioned hits. Part-way through his set, someone I didn’t know approached me with a squarish package, wrapped in brown paper. It looked as if it may have held a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“Kimberley wants you to have these,” I was told. Unwrapping the paper, I was amazed to find a tidy stack of no less than 11 CDs. Most were credited to Rew, a few to him and Cave-Berry, one to just Lee, and one to Jack, a group featuring the couple plus two other musicians. For these I was most grateful; just seeing them perform would have been wonderful enough; meeting them was even better. This stack of discs made the whole thing extra-special. I was lucky enough to catch another set of theirs in the coming days, but I didn’t have another opportunity to thank them again and/or to chat further.
What I’ll do in a kind of lieu of all that is provide a brief rundown of these albums, all recorded and released between (about) 2011 and 2021. Click HERE for that.