Photographers: Kimberley Rew; Matthew Seligman; Steve Stewart.
Kimberley Rew is one of those performers who seems to have little interest in being a frontman, but he's a great guy to have on your team, as anyone who's heard his sterling guitar work and superb pop songwriting with the Soft Boys and Katrina & the Waves can attest. Great Central Revisited is only Rew's third solo album since 1982, but what he lacks in quantity he more than compensates for with quality on this set. The album features a baker's dozen of tunes that for the most part concern life in England in a manner that sounds like two parts Ray Davies, one part Nick Lowe, and a dash of Spike Milligan for flavor as he recalls opening for Screaming Lord Sutch, the quality of British roadways, Eddie Cochran's final tour, dating a beautiful female bass player, and poet and jazz critic Philip Larkin. If Rew's sense of humor lacks the lysergic surrealism of his frequent collaborator Robyn Hitchcock (who plays guitar on one track), he's better at conveying a narrative, and "Philip Larkin," "Sick of Hearing About Your Drugs," and "Purple and Orange Stripes" make it clear that not all of the Soft Boys' quirks were Hitchcock's doing. And Rew's sparkling melodies, rich with hooks, are the perfect vehicle for his deft guitar work, which manages to sound both playful and technically precise at the same time. Great Central Revisited is a top-shelf set of mature but bright-eyed British pop that proves Rew ought to step up to center stage -- he's got the talent and the charm to carry the show quite well by his lonesome. ~ Mark Deming