CD Review: Rychard Carrington reviews reissues of four albums by Kimberley Rew and Katrina And The Waves

Katrina And the Waves 1985
Local Cambridgeshire Artist


KIMBERLEY REW The Bible of Bop

THE WAVES Shock Horror

KATRINA AND THE WAVES Katrina And the Waves

KATRINA AND THE WAVES Katrina And The Waves 2

(CGB Records)


Here in Cambridge the amiable and unassuming Kimberley Rew has been a respected character in the local music fraternity since studying archaeology at our University in the early 1970s. Kim and his band The Waves were a notable part of the agreeably languid Cambridge rock scene of the mid-70s (four very pleasing, predominantly mellow tracks from this era are included with Shock Horror). Rew's career hotted up, though, when he joined The Soft Boys, one of the world's greatest ever bands. While the band were essentially Robyn Hitchcock's creation, Kim's eloquent lead guitar contributed excellently, as on stage his evident boylike pleasure in performing contrasted refreshingly with Robyn's often harsh complexities.


When The Soft Boys split Kim emerged from Robyn's shadow with the challenge of updating his earlier goodtime rock-easy vibe into the 80s. He recorded The Bible Of Bop with members of the dB's, The Soft Boys and The Waves. He reformed The Waves, including as lead singer Katrina Leskanich, who was living at a Norfolk USAF airbase. Katrina had both the strong voice and the extravert pop-sparkle-cum-rock-raunch that Kim lacked. For Katrina to be the public leader, Kim the backroom master, was an alliance that suited both very well. Even the name (amended after Shock Horror), had the right pop verve.


While The Bible Of Bop is classy and relatively quirky, with potent guitar and uncommanding vocals from Kim, it suffers from an early 80s up-tempo brittleness. On Shock Horror, however, The Waves were already flowing nicely, with Kim no longer tentative in displaying his sixties influences. Katrina And The Waves follows in the same vein, brimming with even greater confidence. These two albums have a feel of classic pop-rock about them. The Waves hit the shore with a quasi-1966 fresh energy that one can't help but enjoy. All that was lacking, in marked contrast to Robyn Hitchcock, was strongly individual character, unusual angles. Rew's lyrics were polished but unabashedly conventional: the pop spirit was wholehearted, not at all ironic. Both of these albums find The Waves ‘Going Down To Liverpool'. Didn't they suss that, from Cambridge, "down" was the wrong direction? Shock Horror also features ‘Strolling On Air': promising metaphor, Kim - needs honing.


2 moves even further away from The Soft Boys and the old-wave Waves, veering into Tina Turner territory, and is definitely impressive as such. Hats off to Katrina as raunchy diva, and to Kim as purveyor of polished r'n'b, but there's less here to interest rock aficionados; perhaps Rew just lacked the ego to assume fully the role of guitar hero.


We leave the story on the eve of the East Anglian pub musicians scoring a big international hit and long-term pop classic (taken from Katrina And The Waves). The Eurovision Song Contest and the acrimonious parting of The Waves are well in the future, which is as well, as we leave our friend starring in his own magnificent pop image - about to 'Walk On Sunshine'.


This review previously appeared in Volume 2 Issue 22 of the excellent national music magazine R2 (aka Rock'n'Reel). Reproduced by kind permission of the editor, Sean McGhee.


Kimberley Rew's website


Writer: Rychard Carrington