Kimberley Rue Great Central Revisited

Former Soft Boys guitarist and Katrina and the Waves leader Kimberley Rew stretches out stylistically on his second solo release in less than three years. Indeed, if Rew's intention is to demonstrate the versatility of his songwriting skills, then he succeeds in spades. Melodic guitar pop ("Life Itself" and "We Will Swim Together") mingles with upbeat boogie rock ("EC Blues" and "English Rock"), acoustic instrumental fare ("Adventures of the Underclass") and even an a cappella sea shanty ("Purple and Orange Stripes"). Collectively, the results aren't as disjointed as they could be, however, all the changing of gears makes the disc sound more like a cobbled together compilation of tuneful odds and ends than a proper album. That impression is galvanised by the ever-shifting roster of guests and backup players Rew has assembled for the occasion. Fellow Soft Boys Andy Metcalfe and nutty old Robyn Hitchcock lend organ, slide guitar and backing vocals to a pair of tracks, while UK studio veteran Dave Mattacks shares drum duties with the Sundays' Patch Hannan. Can's Julian Dawson and Waves-mate Vince de la Cruz help out as well, but the lions share of the playing is put in by the more talented and accomplished Rew. Someone else who helps out is Bongobeat proprietor Ralph Alfonso, who, back in the 1980s, released the Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight LP (when Alfonso worked at Attic) and was one of the first to champion Katrina and the Waves, too. (Bongo Beat)