Various Artists

Hall of Fame, Vol. 3

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Ace began reissuing music recorded at the famed FAME studios in 2011 and in 2013; they launched the Hall of Fame series as a way of spotlighting unheard material found in those vaults. The third volume, appearing a year after the second, contains 22 unreleased sides (along with two others that have never appeared on CD in the U.K.), all recorded by male vocalists. Fame's heavy hitters Clarence Carter and Otis Clay dominate the disc, accounting for a combined five tracks, and other names that have popped up frequently on Ace's reissues are here (George Jackson, Dan Greer, Roy Lee Johnson), but if the compilers didn't know the name of a singer, they wound up including it anyway; two cuts are credited to "Unknown Male." If there are no songs that could conceivably be called potential hits -- there are either better counterparts of the same song elsewhere in the catalog, or the acts simply came up with better singles than these songs stashed away on a shelf -- that isn't to say this plays like leftovers. Rather, Fame seems to have suffered from an embarrassment of riches, where they had a house band that locked into an effortless, deep group, a stable of excellent songwriters, and a parade of singers who would do the tunes justice. All the aforementioned familiar names shine, but so do Ben & Spence on "A Stone Loser," Prince Phillip on the funky "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here," Dan Brantley on the relentless ska-inflected "The Door to My Heart," and those two unknowns whose names are lost to history.

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