Illustration by Evelyn Brown from Coraddi magazine, March 1940
Most people that recognize the name Kimberley Rew are fans of the Soft Boys, the seminal surrealist-rock band Rew was in with Robyn Hitchcock in the late '70s. But almost everyone everywhere is familiar with one Kimberley Rew composition, the huge hit "Walking on Sunshine", which he wrote for his post-Invisible-Boys pop combo Katrina & the Waves. There's a sharp divide between those two segments of Rew's career, and The Bible of Bop is an odd little album/compilation that straddles the gap. Assembled from three singles that Rew recorded between the Soft Boys' final days and the early work of Katrina & the Waves, The Bible of Bop is a concise and cohesive collection of skewed power-pop songs, and it's just been re-released with some worthwhile bonus tracks.
The Bible of Bop is called an album, but it was really assembled from three very obscure previously released Kimberley Rew singles. Chronologically, the first piece of the puzzle is the "Stomping All Over the World" single from 1980, recorded as a Soft Boys side-project under Rew's name. Featuring Hitchcock and the other Soft Boys, the single's three tracks don't sound that different from what the band was doing at the time, but it's interesting to hear Rew's own songwriting style coming together. These tracks sound a little rougher than the others on The Bible of Bop (especially the two b-sides), but "Stomping All Over the World" and "Nothing's Going to Change" are top-notch anglo-power-pop.
In 1981, after the Soft Boys' split up, Rew released two more singles, "My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long" and "Nightmare". The former was recorded with the US power-poppers dB's and Mitch Easter, who were visiting London. These tracks are fun because of the obvious dB's influence - "My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long" is one of the best song on the compilation, with a stuttering verse melody and a swirling, wordless chorus. The "Nightmare" single was actually released under the name "The Waves", and is one of the first things Rew recorded with his new band. The three bonus tracks added to the new Bible of Bop reissue also date from this period, and the songs benefit from Rew's more confident songwriting chops and Katrina Leskanich's complementary harmony vocals.
The Bible of Bop is a hodge-podge of a-sides and b-sides and clocks in at under thirty minutes, but it makes an unexpectedly excellent album. I think it's fair to say that it's one of the most underrated power-pop albums of the early '80s - well worth tracking down if you're into that sound.
"My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long" by Kimberley Rew