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 2 (1971-73)

- 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 3 (1973)

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

- Creeper Kurnow -- keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals

- Tom Radtke -- percussion

- Kinky Schnitzner -- guitar 

 

 

 

- Bruce Kurnow (solo efforts)

- Sounds Unlimited (John and Terry Talbot)

- Talbot McGuire (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: 1

Catalog ID: 4772

Price: $20.00

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 material like the title track, Voice of Change' and 'A Rectangle Picture' these guys managed to churn out some of the most impassioned and thought provoking late-'60s political and social commentary you've never heard.  Sure, occasionally it was a little too country for my tastes ('Stewball' and the closing 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.  And then there was the shocking album cover ...  An album that continues to surprise and impress me every time I spin it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Wanted Mason Proffit" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Voice of Change   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:51   rating: **** stars

Sporting a stunning melody, great harmonies, some of the most on-target social and political commentary found in '60s rock and an awesome Art Nash drum solo, 'Voice of Change' is simply one of the best early country-rock tunes nobody's ever heard ...   Fifty years later the lyrics are still on-target.  Sad how little has changed.  I've always wondered why the song was only released as a promotional single:

 

 

 

- 1969's 'Voice of Change' b/w 'A Rectangle Picture' (Happy Tiger catalog number HT 545)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) A Rectangle Picture   (Mason Proffit  - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:19  rating: *** stars

Musically 'A Rectangle Picture' was too country for my tastes, but I have to admit the anti-Vietnam lyric was surprisingly effective.  

3.) You Finally Found Your Love   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:20   rating: **** stars

'You Finally Found Your Love' was a sweet and heartbreaking ballad - the kind of country-rock track that a band like Poco would have died to have written and recorded.  Stunningly pretty !!!  Always loved Tim Ayres's melodic bass lines.

4.) Sweet Lady Love   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:50   rating: **** stars

The "chugging" opening and "river" lyrics have always reminded me a touch of John Fogerty and CCR.  As a big CCR fan that's a high compliment.  Always loved Ron Schuetter's slinky lead guitar solo.

5.) Stewball    (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:30  rating: *** stars

How does a Chicago-based band nail country so well?   I'm not a big country fan, but the sweet 'Stewball' should make all horse fans cry.

 

(side 2)
1.) Two Hangmen   (Mason Proffit
- John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:58  rating: **** stars

Probably their best known song, the title track was a surprisingly clear eyed commentary on free speech and non-conformity  Perhaps it's a little dated now; but fifty years later in an era where we are trying to mindlessly ban books because we disagree with their standpoints, it still resonates with me.  I was listening to the song on YouTube and noticed Terry Talbot had posted to the site - "I wrote this song in 15 minutes in the back of out bus - on the way to record.  It just flowed."    Interesting to see that Happy Tiger tapped it as a single.  The activist lyrics ensured no radio station would go near it.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Buffalo   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot  - Terry Talbot) -  2:00  rating: **** stars

Musically the acoustic ballad 'Buffalo' was a nice example of how good the Talbot brothers' blended voices sounded.  Kudos to the Talbots for their tasteful commentary on the way America has treated native Indian people.

3.) Walk On Down the Road   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot) - Terry Talbot) - 2:54  rating: *** stars

Admittedly the bouncy country-rocker 'Walk On Down the Road' sounds very late-'60s.  On the other hand, there was nothing wrong with the patented "peace-and-love" message.  We are all brothers.  Shame we buried it and moved on to eras of consumerism and mindless selfishness.  

4.) It's All Right   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:30  rating: **** stars

Kicked along by John Talbot's hypnotizing banjo and a sprightly melody, 'It's All Right' has always reminded me of something the late Michael Nesmith might have penned for The Monkees.

5.) Till the Sun's Gone   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:22   rating: **** stars

My wife will tell you I have the sensitivity of a brick, but 'Till the Sun's Gone' may be one of the prettiest ballads I've ever heard.  One of the few ballads I would consider playing at my memorial service.  Check out Art Nash 's powerhouse drumming on this one.

6.) Johnny's Tune (instrumental)   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 1:16   rating: ** stars

Showcasing John Talbot's banjo,  the instrumental 'Johnny's Tune' was just too blue-grassy for my ears.  The album's lone disappointment.

 

 

 

 


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: 1

Catalog ID: 203

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00

 

The band's second and final album for the Chicago-based Happy Tiger label, "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.  Commercially it was a modest seller, managing to hit # 177 on the album charts..

 

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

 

"Movin' Towards Happiness" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Michael Dodge  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:57   rating; *** stars

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.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

3.) Good Friend of Mary's   (Mike Cameron) - 2:41   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 crossed 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.  Interesting to see Happy Tiger tapped the track as an instantly forgotten promotional single:

 

 

 

 

 

- 1970's 'Good Friend of Mary's' b/w 'Hard Luck Woman' (Happy Tiger catalog number HT 570)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 



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 Mason Proffit 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 brothers' 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.  

 

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

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

Country-rock for people who don't like country-rock.  With the addition of a subtle pro-ecology message the 'In the Country' part of the suite was ear candy.  'Sparrow' was a darker ballad, but equally enjoyable.

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

Always loved the sweet instrumental opening ...  and then the Talbots' blended vocals took the song to another level.

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

Mason Proffit weren't know for their covers, but they made an exception for a lovely take on the late Ed McCurdy's 1950 anti-war song.  Lovely thought - the chorus made it even more effective.

4.) Hope   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:14  rating: **** stars

One of their prettiest and most inspirational performances.  Sadly snother song with a message that should resonate with all of us, but seems increasingly out of date ...  Elsewhere Ampex tapped it as a single:

 

 

 

 

 

- 1971's 'Hope' b/w 'Jewel' as a single (Ampex catalog number 11048).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(side 2)
1.) Freedom   (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2;48   rating: *** stars

Easy to imagine Roger McGuinn and Gram Parson pulling their hair out in frustration for not having come up with a song like 'Freedom.'  Fight for you rock and roll.   LOL

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

Showcasing John's banjo, '500 Men ' was a dark narrative - war, pollution, greed ...  it was all addressed here.    

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

Acoustic country ballad - pretty and not a musical genre I particularly enjoyed.

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

Perhaps their finest song; certainly one of the best anti-war songs ever recorded (sadly known to few).  The sneering venom the Talbots bring to the song is astounding.   Even though I was part of the post-Vietnam generation, the narrator's standpoint strikes too close to me - would I have had the gumption to say "go to hell ..."   Doubtful.   This one easily makes my list of top-five Mason Proffit favorite performances ...

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

Another pretty acoustic ballad with another anti-war message; this time very dark and depressing - not that the topic is going to ever make you get up and dance.

6.) My Country (traditional) - 0:46  rating: ** stars

The country-tinged fragment of 'My Country' was an odd way to end the album.

mber PRO 531)

 

 

 


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: 2733

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00

 

 

Produced by Bill Halverson, 1973's "Bare Back Rider" served to showcase the band's enjoyable 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 took a back set to more conventional topics.  The only overtly political statement here was the dark 'Black September/Belfast'. That change was understandable given the country-rock niche had become increasingly crowded with "newbies" like The Eagles, Firefly, Poco, and others being signed by labels.  Highlights this time around included the Latin-flavored 'Lilly' (as good as anything Stephen Stills and Manassas ever did), the pretty country-tinged 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.  Too many country-tinged ballads for my tastes, but tunes like 'Five Generations' were enjoyable in smaller increments.  The end result was indifference among critics and the buying public and shortly after the album was released the band called it quits.  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  rating: *** stars

With a distinctive Latin edge, 'Lilly' offered up a far more commercial sheen than anything on their previous albums.  As mentioned, very Stephen Stills and Manassas vibe going on here.  Warner Brothers released it as a single:

- 1973's  'Lilly' b/w 'I Saw the Light' (Warner Brothers catalog numberWB  7709) 

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

Pretty country-tinged ballads aren't anything unusual for Mason Proffit, but this time out 'Cottonwood' featured some Jimmie Haskell orchestration.  For the most part Haskell's work was subdued and it only threatened to drown the band once or twice.

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

Not sure if this is the same tune Hank Williams recorded, but their arrangement had a distinctive Jerry Lee Lewis feel.  Couple of beers and I bet it was tough to sit still through this one.  There's a kazoo solo too boot ...

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

Pedestrian country ballad; forgettable to my ears.

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

The sweet ballad 'To a Friend' has always reminded me of a mash-up of Neil Young and the late Dan Fogelberg.   The tune certainly had some commercial potential.

 

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

Three country-tinged ballads in a row is a lot for me to handle ...

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

Unlike anything else on the album, the harpsichord powered 'Black September/Belfast' was an orchestrated piece that sounded like a Michael Nesmith effort written for a film soundtrack.  The album's most activist song it seemly referenced Vietnam, the mid-East conflict, Nothern Ireland's The Troubles, and everything in between.  John Talbot's banjo sounded out of place and almost threatening here.

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

Goodness knows how many versions of this tune are out there.  Their arrangement didn;t stray far from the original. 

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

Anyone up for an acoustic country ballad?  'Five Generations' was another track that initially reminded me a bit of Neil Young.  Initially the song just passed me by, but I have to save the sweet melody grew on me.

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

Pretty, but forgettable country ballad with some Jimmie Haskell instrumentation 

 

 

 

 

 

Warner Brothers also funded a promotional, non-LP pro-voting Public Service Announcement 45.  Side one was al full blown song that was quite impressive.  Side two featured a series of three PSAs geared to young voters.

 

- 1972's 'Vote' b/w 'Vote # 1', 'Vote # 2' and 'Vote # 3' (Warner Brothers catalog number PRO 531)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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: $20.00

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 originally managed to miss 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 was 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.  For a double album reissue, the set sold well, hitting # 203 on the charts.

 

 

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

1.) Voice of Change  (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot - 2:51   rating: **** stars

Sporting a stunning melody, great harmonies, some of the most on-target social and political commentary found in '60s rock and an awesome Art Nash drum solo, 'Voice of Change' is simply one of the best early country-rock tunes nobody's ever heard ...   Fifty years later the lyrics are still on-target.  Sad how little has changed.  I've always wondered why the song was only released as a promotional single:

 

 

 

- 1969's 'Voice of Change' b/w 'A Rectangle Picture' (Happy Tiger catalog number HT 545)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) A Rectangle Picture   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) -2:19   rating: *** stars

Musically 'A Rectangle Picture' was too country for my tastes, but I have to admit the anti-Vietnam lyric was surprisingly effective.  

3.) You Finally Found Your Love   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:20   rating: **** stars

' You Finally Found Your Love' was a sweet and heartbreaking ballad - the kind of country-rock track that a band like Poco would have died to have written and recorded.  Stunningly pretty !!!  Always loved Tim Ayres's melodic bass lines.

4.) Sweet Lady Love   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:50   rating: **** stars

The "chugging" opening and "river" lyrics have always reminded me a touch of John Fogerty and CCR.  As a big CCR fan that's a high compliment.   Always loved Ron Schuetter's slinky lead guitar solo.

5.) Stewball    (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:31  rating: *** stars

How does a Chicago-based band nail country so well?   I'm not a big country fan, but the sweet 'Stewball' should make all horse fans cry.

 

(side 2)

1.) Two Hangmen   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 4:58  rating: **** stars

Probably their best known song, the title track was a surprisingly clear eyed commentary on free speech and non-conformity  Perhaps it's a little dated now; but fifty years later in an era where we are trying to mindlessly ban books because we disagree with their standpoints, it still resonates with me.  I was listening to the song on YouTube and noticed Terry Talbot had posted to the site - "I wrote this song in 15 minutes in the back of out bus - on the way to record.  It just flowed."    Interesting to see that Happy Tiger tapped it as a single.  The activist lyrics ensured no radio station would go near it.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Buffalo   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) -  2:07  rating: **** stars

Musically the acoustic ballad 'Buffalo' was a nice example of how good the Talbot brothers' blended voices sounded.  Kudos to the Talbots for their tasteful commentary on the way America has treated native Indian people.

3.) Walk On Down the Road   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot) - Terry Talbot) - 2:55  rating: *** stars

Admittedly the bouncy country-rocker 'Walk On Down the Road' sounds very late-'60s.  On the other hand, there was nothing wrong with the patented "peace-and-love" message.  We are all brothers.  Shame we buried it and moved on to eras of consumerism and mindless selfishness

4.) It's All Right   (Mason Proffit - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:30  rating: **** stars

Kicked along by John Talbot's hypnotizing banjo and a sprightly melody, 'It's All Right' has always reminded me of something the late Michael Nesmith might have penned for The Monkees.

5.) Till the Sun's Gone   (Mason Proffit  - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 3:25   rating: **** stars

My wife will tell you I have the sensitivity of a brick, but ' Till the Sun's Gone' may be one of the prettiest ballads I've ever heard.  One of the few ballads I would consider playing at my memorial service.  Check out Art Nash 's powerhouse drumming on this one.

6.) Johnny's Tune (instrumental)   (Mason Proffit  - John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 1:16   rating: ** stars

Showcasing John Talbot's banjo,  the instrumental 'Johnny's Tune' was just too blue-grassy for my ears.  The album's lone disappointment.

 

(side 3)

(side 1)

1.) Michael Dodge  (John Talbot - Terry Talbot) - 2:57   rating; *** stars

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.

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

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

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

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

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

 

(side 4)

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

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

3.) Good Friend of Mary's   (Mike Cameron) - 2:41   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 crossed 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.  Interesting to see Happy Tiger tapped the track as an instantly forgotten promotional single:

 

 

 

 

 

- 1970's ' Good Friend of Mary's' b/w 'Hard Luck Woman' (Happy Tiger catalog number HT 570)

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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