CD Review: Vintage Collection (Men of Music)
In 1995, Cleon Yates left a corporate career and launched the Men of Music. He shortly assembled a stellar lineup, which included former Cathedrals tenor Bobby Clark, former Chuck Wagon Gang member Jim Wesson on lead, Yates on baritone, and former Dixie Echoes bass singer Mike Bullock. The group picked up a 1996 nomination for Singing News Fan Awards Horizon Artist. Other members would come through over the years, including pianist Buddy Burton, bass singer Chris West, and tenor Steve Warren.
Yates developed voice hoarseness in 2002 and came off the road on doctor’s orders. He handed the group to Mike Bullock at that point, who kept it together for five more years. In August 2009, the group was re-launched, and signed in 2010 with Homeland Entertainment’s Riversong label.
In 2009, they released a two-disk Vintage Collection, featuring four classic Men of Music recordings: I Am In His Care, The Men of Music LIVE at Gospel Singing Jubilee, Texas Size Gospel, and Much Better Way. Each contains a number of strong recordings of new or classic songs, but as the album does not contain personnel or songwriter information, informed commentary is a challenge.
One of the four projects, The Men of Music LIVE at Gospel Singing Jubilee, does contain group membership information in the spoken-word intros. The personnel on this project are Bobby Clark, Jim Wesson, Cleon Yates, and Mike Bullock, and possibly an uncredited pianist. The songlist primarily consists of classic songs; the three strongest renditions are “Shoutin’ on the Hills,” “Dig a Little Deeper,” and “Goodbye, World, Goodbye.” This portion of the CD is a great snapshot of the group, making this project worth obtaining for anyone who likes the Men of Music’s style. But the lack of background information on the other three projects makes the learning curve rather steep for someone who does not come to the project already familiar with the group’s repertoire, voices, and history.