Review Men From Earth

Men From Earth

Men From Earth

[No Label] C-6936

Review by Art Menius for Bluegrass Unlimited May 1995

Simple Life (That’s My Style)    Ramblin’ Boy    I Played Your Game    Misery    Two Lane Highway    Don’t Feel So Low    Lone Me Some    Other Side of the Mountain    D.T. & I    No Where Road

From the Ashland, Kentucky–Portsmouth, Ohio area despite their name, the Men From Earth bring with them some excellent instrumental chops, decent vocals, and plenty of new material. Augmented by the fiddle of the Del McCoury Band‘s Jason Carter, the Men From Earth venture forth with a tape of well rendered modern bluegrass. These terrestrials need some further evolutionary development, but this cassette demonstrates a quartet with intelligence, talent, and considerable potential.

Guitarist Rick Ferguson, as best I can guess from the minimal information provided, possesses a versatile, expressive voice somewhat similar to New Vintage’s Russell Johnson. The Men From Earth shine brightest, however, with their picking, especially when guests Carter and guitarist Ray Craft join them on the delightful instrumental “Lone Me Some.” Kelly Glancy has fine moments of fluid melodicism and Barry Crabtree-like speed on the 5-string. “Simple Life (That’s My Style)” and particularly the LRB influenced “I Played Your Game” come across as very good contemporary pieces. Most of the rest need a couple of more rewrites and a bit tighter and more distinctive arrangements. Too many of these sound too similar. Since I don’t recognize these songs, I assume that they are mostly original. I cannot be certain since no writing or publishing information appears. However one views it, that’s poor. Listeners deserve to know the author, and how can the authors and publishers collect their mechanicals and performance rights fees?

That paucity of information, the cassette format, and lack of a recording label or ordering address makes me wonder whether this is a modest commercial release or a very good demo tape. If it be the latter, sending it in for review enters an ethical demimonde. Reviews should be reserved for those products readers can at least mail order or buy at shows. Nonetheless, the four Men From Earth have made a solid start toward a good CD. They have the three ready-for-radio pieces cited above plus a bunch more that just need fine-tuning. Rerecord those and wax four carefully selected cover songs and you’re done. Add a powerful tenor singer and perhaps a full-time fiddler, and the Men From Earth could lift off towards the ranks of the nationally known bands.