James Govan made his first inroads into FAME studios playing guitar and drums, but he soon gained notice for his weathered voice, which sounded like a bit like a deeper, weary Otis Redding. He had a single in 1969 with "Wanted: Lover (No Experience Necessary)," but it didn't play to a large audience, and over the next few years, he attempted a variety of other sounds -- everything from Beatles and Dylan covers to versions of Hank Williams songs -- before leaving the confines of FAME. Decades later he recorded full albums, but these FAME recordings lay in the vaults until the 2013 release Wanted: The FAME Recordings, a 16-track compilation that includes no less than 12 unreleased songs but, to be fair, the remaining four songs might as well have been unreleased, as they were barely circulated (some were aired on Ace's excellent 2011 box The FAME Studio Story). Based on this, it's hard to tell exactly why Govan was denied a larger shot, as he's a confident, assured singer who tore into familiar songs and tugged them in his direction (listen to the funky swing of "Jambalaya" for proof). Govan also functioned as the singer for songwriter George Jackson -- five of the 16 songs here were penned by Jackson -- and the vocalist helped illustrate just how good Jackson's deep soul songs were. These recordings were intended to gain the attention of other singers, but Govan's versions feel like finished product, as does the entirety of this compilation. Govan was a nimble, impassioned singer and that helps make Wanted: The Fame Recordings feel like a collection of forgotten hits; there may have been a reason for these sides to sit in the vaults, but now that they're out in the open, they seem like they've always been part of the Southern soul fabric.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine