thomas lang Scallywag Jaz (double CD, £14.50)
This 30th anniversary, celebratory, expanded edition of Thomas Lang’s acclaimed debut album from 1987 contains no fewer than 26 bonus tracks. Thomas Lang’s honeyed tenor tones drew comparisons, at the time of its original release, with the smooth, sultry jazz drenched moods of Sade and the warmth and expressive inflections of Alison Moyet. For sure, Thomas Lang had a big, classy voice and an easy, dashing elegance. His debut album was written with, and coproduced by, one of the leading Merseyside musicians of the day, David A. Hughes who had previous associations with local acts Dalek I Love You, OMD and The Lotus Eaters and who would go on to forge a notable career composing for film and television. David A. Hughes co-produced Thomas Lang’s album with Pete Smith, whose stellar record production credits now include such luminaries as Sting, Gary Moore, The Adventures, Squeeze and Randy Crawford. ‘Scallywag Jaz’ presents music that is a moody, melancholic mélange featuring saxophones and pianos. The songs swing towards a hazy nostalgia for half-empty ’50s dancehalls and ballrooms. It was recorded at Liverpool’s legendary Amazon Studios. The album amply demonstrates Thomas and his cohorts’ diverse musical stylings in songs that range from the jazzy instrumentation of the title track through the torch vocals of ‘Fingers & Thumbs’, ‘Injury’ & ‘Spirit’ to an invigorating and surprisingly spirited interpretation of the Gamble & Huff classic ‘Me & Mrs Jones’. Thomas Lang has been enthusiastically involved in making this deluxe reissue such a comprehensive celebration of the songs herein. Every single B-side from the related singles has been included as have variant versions, demos and live versions of key album tracks. A special inclusion are two all new songs called ‘Scared’ and ‘I Believe’ that confirm Thomas Lang’s ongoing power as a foremost song stylist. Other rarities include the debut appearance of the first ever song to emerge from the Thomas Lang and David A. Hughes songwriting partnership, ‘Red’ and the first version of, perhaps, one of the most commercial sounding tracks ever recorded by Thomas, the rousing ‘The More That You Expect’.
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