Martin Quirk – September 2016

martin-quirk-reviewEven if he wasn’t already blessed with a distinctive, world class singing voice to rival Adele or Alicia Keys, and to simply blow away pretenders like Sam Smith or Michael Bubblebath, Thomas Lang would still be considered a national treasure of The People’s Republic of Liverpool for his distinctly unsung contribution to life in this city over the past twenty years or so, spent mostly away from the spotlight and the recording studio. But more of that later because the lad from Park Road, who shared a record label with Michael Jackson during the height of MJ’s global eighties mega-stardom, ‘got hammered’ on Newcastle Brown with his legendary real namesake, Tom Jones, and who toured the world constantly himself for ten years; working along the way with jazz icons like Nina Simone and Ornette Coleman, is nally back doing what he was born to do, and with what many of his old fans will be delighted to hear is probably his nest album to date.

The German Alphabet has all the same DNA as Lang and his original band’s classic debut album Scallywag Jaz; the polished production, gorgeous melodies, the power and subtlety, intimacy and sensuality, but with that solid soulful jazzy swing that held it all in place so perfectly enriched by some truly inspired arrangements, beautiful orchestration and generally spectacular production courtesy of Lang’s new creative partners Colin McKay and Allan Currie. The result is a warm and sensual hour long cinematic fantasy; a lush and loving contemporary homage to composers John Barry and Ennio Morricone, a swinging, romantic tango through late sixties cinematic cool and kitsch, with a lyrical wink here and there to Broadway and the classic American songbooks of Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter. It swings and it bops and it nger-pops with vibrancy and a subtle humour but always at the heart of it is the unmistakable sound of a great singer who has aged like vintage cognac and whose own years now compliment perfectly the timeless maturity of his undiminished vocal power.

Thomas Lang isn’t your typical Scouse muso and is very active in the wider musical community of the city. He served on the board of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for almost a decade and was single-handedly responsible for saving Parr Street Studios, birthplace of the rst two Coldplay albums, and keeping it in the city for young musicians to have access to. He achieved this by nding exactly the right nancial investors to buy the studios from the band Genesis for £1.6m. But, it was the tragic early death of a
very close and heterosexual friend from AIDS in the mid-nineties which inspired Lang to take on his lifetime commitment to supporting those in Liverpool diagnosed with the HIV virus. For over twenty years now he has been a dedicated patron of Sahir House, which works to support people living with HIV and towards increasing knowledge and reducing the stigma related to the infection. Lang has organised a live major fund-raising event each year called A Celebration of Life which has taken various musical forms, from a club night with Cream to a night at The Phil with Mick Head.

The German Alphabet is released on 30th September – for more info check out : www.thomaslang.uk
See Thomas Lang performing a full live concert set including tracks from The German Alphabet at The

Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room on Friday 30th
September, at Manchester Academy 3 on Sunday
2nd October and at London Islington O2 Academy
2 on Sunday October 9th

This month’s column is dedicated to Maggie Jones (18th May 1924 to 6th February 2016) and all her children.