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Rochester: Jim Riley of Ranscombe Studios joins forces with The Claim for band Jim Riley's Blues Foundation

By Chris Hunter

You might be fooled into thinking that after spending the last decade or two behind the mixing desk in his musical lair of Ranscombe Studios in Rochester, Jim Riley might have lost a bit of his performing edge.

Don’t believe a bit of it.

His new song, Running Out of Time, is what the kids these days call a ‘banger’ – a powerful dose of rock and roll R&B, full of glowering grit and when Jim’s harmonica solo kicks in at one minute 42 seconds there’s no doubting the fire’s still burning.

An unplanned collaboration at a Medway legends gig last year has led to Jim’s unexpected resurgence as a front man, joining forces with Medway indie band the Claim to create a brand new R&B outfit, Jim Riley’s Blues Foundation.

Jim Riley's Blues Foundation (Jim, far right) are set to release their first album
Jim Riley's Blues Foundation (Jim, far right) are set to release their first album

The band’s new album A Very British Blues Explosion was recorded mostly live at Jim’s studio last year and they’re now set to take the stage at the 100 Club during London Blues Week on Saturday, January 20.

“I’ve known them since the mid-80s,” said Jim, explaining how the unplanned collaboration came about.

“We did an album with them and they went on to do reasonably well as an indie band. When they played the 100 Club last year they asked me to play harmonica on a song. We did that and they said ‘why don’t you do a blues number?’ so we knocked something together the night before and it went down a storm – so the promoters asked us to do London Blues Week. Then we thought ‘let’s do an album’. It’s come out really well – just how I wanted and I’m really pleased.

“There’s four originals and the rest covers – some quite obscure ones and some more well known, like Baby Please Don’t Go. It came out really well so we thought let’s put it out and do a few gigs.

“It’s just one of those things that happens. I really enjoyed it and had great fun recording.”

Jim's no stranger to the big stage though. As lead singer of Wipeout and other bands he's been well known in Medway since the late 70s - and he’s naturally looking forward to returning to the stage at the 100 Club.

“It’s quite a legendary place,” he said. “You look at the people that have played there – Chuck Berry, the Stones, Bo Diddley. It’s such a great place and I love the sound there.”

A Very British Blues Explosion will be released on Trouserphonic Records in February in vinyl and CD – although fans might get a chance to grab a copy hot off the press at the 100 Club gig.

* Further gigs are expected. Keep an eye on the Medway Messenger for updates.

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