Mason Proffit


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-71)

- Tim Ayres -- bass 

- Rick Durett -- keyboards 

- Art Nash -- drums 

- Ron Schuetter -- vocals, guitar

- John Talbot -- vocals, guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo

- Terry Talbot -- vocals, lead guitar, percussion

 

  line up 1 (1961-73)

- Tim Ayres -- bass 

- Art Nash -- drums 

- Ron Schuetter -- vocals, guitar

- John Talbot -- vocals, guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo

- Terry Talbot -- vocals, lead guitar, percussion

 

  line up 2 (1973)

- Bill Cunningham -- guitar, fiddle, mandolin, backing vocals

- Creeper Kurnow -- keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals

- Tom Radtke -- percussion

- Kinky Schnitzner -- guitar 

 

 

 

- Sounds Unlimited (John and Terry Talbot)

- John Talbot (solo efforts)

- Terry Talbot (solo efforts)

- The Talbot Brothers

- Tucker's Fault (Art Nash)

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: country-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Wanted Mason Proffit

Company: Happy Tiger

Catalog: HT-1009

Year: 1969

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4772

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00

 

Brothers John and Terry Talbot were founding members of Chicago's Sounds Unlimited.  When that band called it quits in 1969 as Mason Proffit the two continued their musical partnership with bassist Tim Ayres, keyboard player Rick Durett, drummer Art Nash and guitarist Ron Schuetter.

 

The band were quickly signed to the Chicago based Happy Tiger label.  Interestingly, anyone expecting to hear Sounds Unlimited-styled garage rock was in for a major surprise with the release of their debut "Wanted Mason Proffit". Co-produced by Bill Traut and Terry Talbot, the collection found the band introducing a then cutting edge blend of country and rock moves.  Exemplified by songs like 'Walk On Down the Road' and 'It's All Right', the collection was full of killer tunes that should have made bands like The Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco turn green with envy.  Moreover on tracks like 'Voice of Change' and 'A Rectangle Picture' these guys managed to churn out some of the most impassioned and thought provoking political and social commentary that you've never heard.  Sure, occasionally it was a little too country for my tastes ('Stewball' and the bluegrass instrumental 'Johnny's Tune'), but there was enough rock and oddball stuff here to warrant the investment - check out the bizarre lyric on 'Two Hangmen'.  Elsewhere I'm still not sure how a CCR-styled track like 'Sweet Lady Love' (with a classic fuzz guitar solo) missed becoming a major hit.  

 

Two singles were drawn from the album:

- 'A Rectangle Picture' b/w ' Voice of Change' (Happy Tiger catalog number HT-545)

- 'Two Hangmen' b/w 'Sweet Lady Love' (Happy Tiger catalog number HT-552)

 

The album's gatefold cover was also  fairly eye opening.

 

"Wanted Mason Proffit" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Voice of Change   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:51

2.) A Rectangle Picture   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:19

3.) You Finally Found Your Love   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 4:20

4.) Sweet Lady Love   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:50

5.) Stewball    (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:30

 

(side 2)
1.) Two Hangmen   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 4:58

2.) Buffalo   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) -  2:00

3.) Walk On Down the Road   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:54

4.) It's All Right   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:30

5.) Till the Sun's Gone   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:22

6.) Johnny's Tune (instrumental)   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 1:16

 

 

 

 


Genre: country-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Movin' Towards Happiness

Company: Happy Tiger

Catalog: HT-1019

Year: 1971

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 203

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00

 

The band's second and final album for Happy Tiger, "Movin' Towards Happiness" continued their exploration of country-rock, this time focusing on the country component.   And given I'm not a big country fan, this one shouldn't have done much for me.   Against that backdrop, I have to admit this album was good.  No, it wasn't as good as the debut, but song-for song the Talbot brothers acquitted themselves well, managing to maintain a underlying rock component, even in the most countrified numbers (okay - maybe not 'Hokey Joe Pokey' and 'Old Joe Clark').   Blessed with two strong singers in John and Terry,, the collection served to showcase the brothers knack for crafting strong, commercial melodies that took on a wide array of social and political issues (the mistreatment of Native Americans ('Flying Arrow' and the anti-war sentiments in 'Everybody was Wrong'). Also of interest were the religious sentiments embedded in 'Good Friend of Mary's'.  The album also underscored their beautiful CS&N-styled harmonies.   So with all of that going for it, you'd ask why they were a massive commercial success ...  Wish I had a great answer ...  maybe there were simply too many equally talented competitors out there ?   Maybe they were simply too country for country-rockers ?   Who knows.

 

- In spite of a slightly flat lea vocal, 'Michael Dodge' was the kind of country-rock song that I enjoyed - tight melody, interesting wild west lyric, and nice harmony vocals.   It would have made a nice single.   rating; *** stars

- Geez, I never thought I'd have anything nice to say about a truck driver themed song ...  but then a song that actually mentioned Diamond REO and toast and coffee couldn't be totally bad.  Actually, the combination of the killer title track chorus and Art Nash's pounding drums made this one quite enjoyable.  rating: *** stars

- Perhaps the album's prettiest composition, 'Children' was a stark and captivating ballad (maybe because I'm a parent, this one's always struck a chord with me).  Great harmony vocals ...    rating: **** stars

- The first disappointment, 'Hokey Joe Pokey' was simply too country and too cute for my tastes.  Again, the band's harmony vocals were wonderful, but the rest of the song sucked.   rating: ** stars

- Another pretty ballad with some cool native Indian percussion touches, I'll admit 'Flying Arrow' was a bit heavy handed, but compared to Paul Revere and the Raiders' 'Indian Reservation' it came off like a Pultizer winner ...   And you know what ?   Kudos to the Talbots for taking on the subject of American Indian rights.  Shame Crosby and Nash never wrote anything as effecting as this one.   rating: **** stars

- Their reworking of the traditional 'Old Joe Clark' was another track that was too country for my tastes.  That said, nice banjo solo from John (how did a 16 year old learn to play like that?) and Tim Ayres bass line was great and if I had to listen to a hoedown tune, why not this one ?    Thank goodness they didn't include the entire 90 stanzas of the original tune.   rating: ** stars

- Clearly one of the album's best performances, if you didn't think a banjo could carry a rock song, then check out the blazing 'Let Me Know Where You're Goin''.    rating: **** stars

- An acoustic number punctuated by what sounded like harpsichord and storm sound effects, I don't have a clue what 'Melinda' was about ...  easily the weirdest thing they ever recorded.   rating: ** stars

- Hum, if you ever wondered what Roger McGuinn and the Byrds would have sounded like if they'd been a Jesus band (I'm sure it's croseds many of your minds), then check out 'Good Friend of Mary's'.  Surprisingly subtle and quite enjoyable, it's the kind of Jesus music that makes you think, rather than cringe.  rating: **** stars

- With a very dark and haunting lyric, 'He Loves Them' wasn't something that would get the crowd up on their feet.  I've listened to it dozens of times and still can't get my arms around the plot.   rating: *** stars

- Well 'Everybody was Wrong' had a great title and started out sounding like a good David Crosby composition, complete with a wonderful melody, a killer Terry Talbot electric guitar solo (rare for these guys), and some stinging activist lyrics - I think they took swings at pollution and war.   rating: **** stars 

 

The sleeper in their catalog, its an album that I pull out a couple of times a year.  

 

Commercially it was a modest seller, managing to hit # 177 on the album charts..  

 

"Movin' Towards Happiness" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Michael Dodge  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:57

2.) Hard-Luck Woman  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:54

3.) Children  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:48

4.) Hokey Joe Pokey  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:22

5.) Flying Arrow  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:30

6.) Old Joe Clark (traditional arranged by   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:01

 

(side 2)
1.) Let Me Know Where You're Goin'  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:29

2.) Melinda  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:56

3.) Good Friend of Mary's   (Mike Cameron) - 2:41

4.) He Loves Them  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:31

5.) Everybody Was Wrong  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 5:17

 



Genre: country-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

Company: Ampex

Catalog: A-10138

Year: 1971

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4773

Price: $20.00

Cost: $1.00

 

Not to imply they don't deserve their share of fame and recognition, but I find it depressing to see all the acclaim heaped on Gram Parsons and other early country-rock exponents, while these guys remain all but unknown outside of a small cult following.

 

After two albums for Happy Tiger, 1971's "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" saw the band signed by Ampex Records.  Produced by James Lee Golden, the band's third studio set found them continuing their cutting edge exploration of country-rock, though this time out the emphasis was increasingly on the country part of the equation.  With the Talbot brothers responsible for eight of the ten tracks the album was also notable for their increasingly direct social and political commentary.  Powered by the Talbot's attractive voices, the album was full of nifty melodies, but with the exception of '24 Hour Sweetheart' virtually every one of the songs sported some sort of message - some more subtle than others (check out the harrowing anti-war track 'Mother').  The activist stance reflected on songs such as the pro-ecology 'In the Country', the title track, 'Hope' and the rockin' stand-up-for-your-beliefs 'Eugene Pratt' probably didn't do much to endear the band to top-40 radio.  In hindsight the album also serves as an indication of John Talbot's future religious direction.  Probably a little too country for most rock fans, but well worth investigating if you're interested in the genre.  Elsewhere Ampex tapped 'Hope' b/w 'Jewel' as a single (Ampex catalog number 11048).

 

 

"Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) In the Country/Sparrow   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 7:48

2.) 24 Hour Sweetheart   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:54

3.) Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream   (Ed McCurdy) - 3:42

4.) Hope   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:14

 

(side 2)
1.) Freedom   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2;48

2.) 500 Men   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:11

3.) Jewel   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:51

4.) Eugene Pratt   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:51

5.) Mother   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:37

6.) My Country (traditional) - 0:46

 

 


Genre: country-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Bare Back Rider

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: BS-2074

Year: 1973

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve; 'B' on inner sleeve; cut lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4774

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00

 

 

Produced by Bill Halverson, 1973's "Bare Back Rider" served to showcase the band's exceptional country-rock moves.  The Talbot brothers again handled the bulk of writing duties, but perhaps under pressure from their label this time their social and political activism was largely kept in check.  The only overtly political statement here was 'Black September/Belfast'.  Highlights included the Latin-flavored 'Lilly' (as good as anything Stephen Stills and Manassas ever did), the pretty ballad 'Cottonwood' and the Jerry Lee Lewis-styled rocker 'Setting the Woods On Fire' (worth the admission price just for the kazoo solo).  Easily as good as any mid-1970s release by The Eagles or Poco, the album should have been a major hit.  Unfortunately Warner Brothers simply couldn't figure out how to market the band and in the end they simply proved too country for rock audiences and too rock for country fans.  The end result was indifference among critics and the buying public and shortly after the album was released the band called it quits.

In a curious marketing move 'Lilly' b/w 'I Saw the Light' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7709) was released as a single credited to 'The Talbot Brothers'.

The parent album just made the top-200 charts, peaking at # 198.

"Bare Back Rider" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lilly   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:19

2.) Cottonwood   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:17

3.) Setting the Woods On Fire   (Ed Nelson - Fred Rose) - 2:56

4.) Dance Hall Girl   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:50

5.) To a Friend   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:12

 

(side 2)
1.) Stoney River   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:50

2.) Black September/Belfast   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:47

3.) I Saw the Light   (Williams) - 2:58

4.) Five Generations   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:44

5.) Sail Away   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:11

 

 

 


Genre: country-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Come & Gone

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: 2S-2746

Year: 1974

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Ctalog ID: 4771

Price: $12.00

Cost: $1.00

 

I have to admit that my earlier exposure to the Mason Proffit catalog wasn't particularly enjoyable.  Bland country-rock was my general impression and I filed their albums away without a second thought.  Accordingly my hopes for this one were pretty low.  Wow was I ever wrong!  I'd love to know how I missed this band's charm ...

 

Released just as Warner Brothers was getting ready to drop the band from it's recording roster, 1974's "Come & Gone" was kind of an odd album in that it served to repackage the band's two earlier releases for Happy Tiger: "Wanted! Mason Proffit" and "Moving Toward Happiness".  As an affordable retrospective it's a wonderful introduction to the band's then cutting edge blend of country and rock moves.  Exemplified by songs like 'Walk On Down the Road' and 'It's All Right', the collection is full of killer tunes that should have made bands like The Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco turn green with envy, on tracks like 'Voice of Change' and 'A Rectangle Picture' these guys also managed to churn out some of the most impassioned and thought provoking political and social commentary that you've never heard. Sure, occasionally it's a little too country for my tastes ('Stewball' and the bluegrass instrumental 'Johnny's Tune'), but there's enough rock and oddball stuff here to warrant the investment - check out the lyric on 'Two Hangmen'.  Elsewhere I'm still not sure how a CCR-styled track like 'Sweet Lady Love' missed becoming a major hit.  

 

"Come & Gone" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Voice of Change   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:54

2.) A Rectangle Picture   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:19

3.) You Finally Found Your Love   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 4:21

4.) Sweet Lady Love   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:56

5.) Stewball    (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:31

 

(side 2)
1.) Two Hangmen   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 4:56

2.) Buffalo   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) -  2:07

3.) Walk On Down the Road   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:55

4.) It's All Right   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:31

5.) Till the Sun's Gone   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:25

6.) Johnny's Tune (instrumental)   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 1:16

 

(side 3)

1.) Michael Dodge   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:58

2.) Hard Luck Woman   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:57

3.) Children   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:49

4.) Hokey Joe Pony   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2;24

5.) Flying Arrow   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:31

6.) Old Joe Clark (traditional arranged by John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:00

 

(side 4)

1.) Good Friend of Mary's   (Camero) - 2:46

2.) He Loves Them   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:31

3.) Melinda   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 3:40

4.) Let Me Know Where You're Going   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 2:29

5.) Everybody Was Wrong   (Mason Proffit - Talbot) - 5:17

 

For a double album reissue, the set sold well, hitting # 203 on the charts.

 

 

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