Wanted ~ The Fame Recordings Original recording remastered
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James Govan is an exceptional Southern soul vocalist who was highly influenced by Otis Redding. A regular feature on Beale Street today, he has a very sparse discography, until recently limited to a handful of recordings for David Johnson's Broadway Sound and a couple of singles for Fame. During Ace Records trawl of the Fame Records vault they found another 12 tracks to add to his four previously released sides, and Wanted: The Fame Recordings is the definitive document of his time at the Muscle Shoals studio. Featuring two different periods of the Fame Gang with sessions from 1969 and 1972, musicians heard backing James include Clayton Ivey, Freeman Brown, Travis Wammack and Duane Allman. The new songs include a selection written for James by George Jackson such as I Bit Off More Than I Can Chew , and You Get A Lot To Like . His covers of Dylan s I Shall Be Released and Just Like A Woman are fascinating and compelling. The booklet includes many previously unseen colour photos of James at work in Fame Studios as well as an in-depth note by Southern soul expert Martin Goggins.
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Govan was not a songwriter, so he used Fame's excellent in-house writer George Jackson for some material, and the 5 songs either written or co-written by Jackson are among this CD's strongest tracks, in my biased opinion (I'm a huge George Jackson fan, and would encourage any fan of soul music to seek out the collections of his solo material). Govan's cover of Dan Penn's "You Left the Water Running" is also very good. But what I found less interesting are the covers of famous songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Hank Williams, and Arthur Cruddup. I don't care how good the vocalist is --- and Govan is very, very good --- but I really don't care to hear yet another version of "I Shall Be Released" or "Jambalaya."
It's a shame that Govan hasn't recorded more music over the years. From all reports he is still playing clubs in Memphis and belting out songs in front of thrilled fans. I only wish he'd been given stronger songs to showcase his outstanding vocal talent. But overall, this is still a good collection. If you enjoy 1960s and 1970s southern soul, this is a guy well worth checking out.
I first heard tracks from "Wanted" on National Public Radio a few months back I was mesmerized and had to pull over to buy the album immediately ... almost all stock was selling while I was trying to purchase it on line then and there. I can't stress how much I think this guy has been overlooked!
Highest possible recommendation.