After stints in the Soft Boys (with Robyn Hitchcock) and Katrina and the Waves, Kimberley Rew has pursued a solo career and collaborated with bands in his hometown of Cambridge (UK). Lee Cave-Berry has, likewise, played bass with many Cambridge-area bands. For the past 20 years, “Kim and Lee,” husband and wife, have performed and recorded as a duo revving up crowds with songs like “The Dog Song” and “It Makes Me Happy”. They perform live every week on the Facebook venue “The Wednesday Sessions” and have just released a “Best of” album. They spoke with PKM’s Fiona McQuarrie.
Kimberley Rew’s witty, slightly off-center songs first tickled listeners’ ears on Underwater Moonlight, the 1980 album by the Soft Boys – a band that also included the equally prolific and quirky Robyn Hitchcock. Rew then went on to join Katrina and the Waves and write their international hit “Walking on Sunshine”; he also authored the band’s “Love Shine A Light” which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1997.
Since that time, Rew, a guitarist and singer, and his bass-playing wife Lee Cave-Berry have released a number of independent albums, as well as playing with different groups in and around their UK home in Cambridge. A compilation of songs from those two decades, that also includes solo tracks from each of them, has just been released as Sunshine Walkers: The Best of Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave-Berry. It’s a thoroughly engaging album, with 21 tracks ranging from the wry “Bloody Old England” to the trippy “Flower Superpower” and encompassing lots of other quirky musical delights. PKM spoke to Rew and Cave-Berry, in their lockdown home at St. Ives, about the album.
PKM: Why a “best of” album now?
Kimberley Rew: “Kim and Lee” have been together for 20 years. We’ve known each other for almost 40 years, but our relationship has been for 22 years, and as a musical duo for 20 years. We’re also members of other bands. But in that time myself solo, Lee solo, and us together have recorded various albums. They exist and they’re available, but it kind of got to the point where we really couldn’t just put out another album. We had to make a name for ourselves.
Lee Cave-Berry: What had happened was, we had been playing gigs and making albums and creating music for 20 years. We had never tried to promote the albums, ever. We had just made them. They’ve come out, but nothing has ever really stuck. This year we decided that we would try to promote them a bit, and we put a team together. And the team said, before you try to promote a new album, you have to get everybody to catch up on what you’ve done before [laughs]. So that’s where it started. We tried to put together a compilation of all the things we’ve done together since we’ve been together. Hopefully it’s an introduction to what’s to come next.
Kimberley Rew, ‘Flower Superpower’
PKM: And since you’ve released all those albums yourselves, you don’t have the pressure of a record company executive saying, you have to have this track or this other track. So you got to choose your own.
Lee Cave-Berry: We did, but we did have some help from our team. We had our own choices, but our team said, these are the tracks from the album that we would like to promote. It was democratic. Me and Kimberley and the team chose the four “focus tracks”.
PKM: Which ones are those?
Kimberley Rew: ‘Simple Pleasures’, ‘Yours Truly’, ‘Some Days [You Eat the Bear]’ and ‘The Dog Song’. The focus tracks are basically for DJs who can’t be bothered to listen to the whole album [laughs].
Kimberley Rew, ‘The Dog Song’:
Lee Cave-Berry: But we like all the tracks on the album. ‘The Dog Song’ is fabulous live, people love it. ‘It Makes Me Happy’ is another one they like live.
PKM: How did you build out the rest of the compilation from those four tracks?
Lee Cave-Berry: Kimberley and I each chose our favourites from the albums that have come out, and we presented the list to our team. And the team went, ooh, this one, or this one, and we’d go, well, not that one, but that other one would be good [laughs]. So it goes from Kimberley’s early solo stuff, to some of Katrina and the Waves, a bit of the Soft Boys, and a lot of stuff from us together.
Kimberley Rew: I don’t think so. It’s a bit of an oddity. There’s a couple of tracks on Sunshine Walkers from the short period between the Soft Boys and Katrina and the Waves, from around 1980, and the rest are from 1990 onward. Except for ‘Restless Ocean’, which is from the Katrina and the Waves era. It’s one that I sang but nobody ever put it on a record. But when I asked Ralph [Alfonso, compiler of Driving in the Rain] for permission to put a song from that album on this record, he said yes – on the condition that it was ‘Restless Ocean’.
Lee Cave-Berry: Ted Koehorst, from The Lonely, another Cambridge band, is very keen on that track. His partner is the drummer in my band Gig-L. There’s a great scene in Cambridge, a lot of really high-quality music. We’re kind of lucky because we do this Wednesday Session every week, with four or five bands. We go on first and then we’re the backing band, the house band, for the other people that appear. So we get to know quite a lot of new stuff coming up, as well as the stuff that our generation already knew [laughs].
Kimberley Rew: When people talk about classic albums, they always mean something between about 1967 and 1972. And that hasn’t really changed. There’s other great classic album periods, but those haven’t really been recognized. I think that young people, they’re aware of our golden age, before they were born, but they don’t really have a golden age of their own.
PKM: There’s also discussion on Twitter as to whether this is a good time to release an album. Some people are saying, there’s no gigs so nobody can go out and promote it, so you should wait. But then there are others who are saying, everybody’s stuck at home and they want something to listen to, so this is a great time.
Kimberley Rew: Well, I’ll go for option B [laughs].
Lee Cave-Berry: It’s quite extraordinary, because we hadn’t done a lot of online stuff or streaming or anything before lockdown happened. We were really lucky that we managed to get enough technology together to do the Wednesday Session the Wednesday after the lockdown started. We managed to get my iPad to do Facebook Live, and we did a half-hour live set in our front room, and we’ve been doing that every Wednesday since. And all the people that usually come to the live gigs, they still come to it on Facebook.
Kimberley Rew: They send comments to each other, “Hi! How are you doing?” [laughs]
Lee Cave-Berry: I have this image in my head of them all dancing around in their own living rooms, dancing like they would if they were together at the live show.
PKM: And there was the online version of ‘Love Shine A Light’, the Waves’ Eurovision song, for this year’s virtual Eurovision.
Eurovision 2020, ‘Love Shine A Light’:
Lee Cave-Berry: That was all arranged by the Eurovision people, we didn’t have to do anything. It was kind of amazing that they chose an Englishman’s tune, after all of the Brexit leaving [laughs]. But ‘Love Shine A Light’ was the theme they chose, out of 60 years of songs that won the contest, so now Kimberley is the Eurovision champion for life [laughs]. But it was quite lovely, to see everyone singing it together, quite touching. It was a real accolade.
PKM: So now that the compilation is out, are you working on something new?
Lee Cave-Berry: Well, we can’t physically promote the album that’s come out, so we have time to work on the next two albums. He’s quite prolific, he keeps writing the songs, and it’s part of his nature that once he’s written the song, then he has to play it, and then he has to put it on an album. This is how he works. So yes, we’ve got two in the pipeline. Fantastic songs, they just keep getting better. He writes such timeless songs.