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.

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17 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Is “Shoutin’ On the Hills” the song the Cathedrals and Signature Sound cut, “There’ll Be Shouting”?

  2. Mike Bullock was not with Perfect Heart , he was with the Dixie Echoes.

    • David, you are correct. Mike Presnell was the bass for Perfect Heart. Mike Bullock was never with PH.

      • Sorry for the typo, everyone! I have fixed it now.

  3. Buddy Burton was playing piano on the jubilee recording.

  4. It is my understanding that Chris West was the original bass with MofM and was on the “In His Care” project.

    • Fascinating – thanks! He must be a little older than he looks, then!

      • Chris was a teenager when he was with the men of Music,right out of high school IIRC.

  5. i saw them at a new year’s eve sing in 94 or 95. They were singing in Burnett, Texas.. Chris had just left and Roy Pauley was filling in for them. he was reading the lyrics to the songs he didn’t know from one of the tape inserts.

  6. Dean’s right – Chris West was the original bass singer. Sang the first year with them but didn’t return after Thanksgiving break. Bullock took his place. Buddy Burton was an original member as well, playing the piano and doing the emcee work and singing some as well.

    • Daniel, if you didn’t know that then you probably didn’t know that Chris West sang with a group before Men of Music. He sang with a group called Silent Power which also had Danny and Jason Funderburk as well as Nathan Widener. This was when Danny and Nathan both worked for Son Sound Records. They did limited appearances to promote the label. Chris got married either shortly before or during his time with Men of Music.

      • Correct – I didn’t know that. I think I’d heard of one group Chris had been in pre-Mercy’s Mark, but that 2004/2005 debut project is the first I have with him (till this one).

      • Do you have any idea where Jim Wesson is now?

  7. I know that at some point while Mike had the group, he had Jonathan Thorne singing tenor and Brian Braiser singing baritone. I’d love to know what happened to those guys.

  8. Hey this Brian Brasher sister Lora.He is now leading music at Adaton Baptist Church Starkville,Ms. He is marrage in 2004 and has little girl and anther one on the way.And he is doing good.Thanks for asking.

  9. Does anyone know where Jim Wesson is now and how can he be reached?