When the Band dropped the immortal Music from Big Pink in 1968, the album turned hippie rock inside out. Just about every musician of note traded in his paisley pants and sitar for buckskin fringe and a pedal steel. It was the whole getting-back-to-the-country thing, and the Talbot brothers, Terry and John Michael, were no exception. After disbanding their garage-rock outfit, Chicago's Sounds Unlimited, the pair put together Mason Proffit, a quintet fusing folk-rock, country and high-concept lyrics laced with Native American mysticism, Gnostic Christianity and Western Americana. But despite a high-profile signing to Warner Bros. and a national tour with the Grateful Dead, none of the Proffit's five albums sold well. That's a darn shame, because the band swung harder than most of the West Coast's country-rock heavies. Terry, meanwhile, crooned as if he'd grown up listening to Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. Mason Proffit disbanded in 1973, but not before making a huge impression on a couple of upstarts in California. Yessir, the Eagles' desperado/outlaw image owes a lot to the brothers Talbot. So if you want to pass Country Rock 101, you need a serious dose of the Proffit.