Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Robert Charlebois avec Louise Forestier

Robert Charlebois is an interesting guy. A huge star in Quebec, but largely unknown outside of it, he was born in 1945, studied music and acting as a youth and by the age of 22 was opening shows for Quebecois stars like Felix Leclerc and playing cafes in Paris. In 1968 he put out this album with Louise Forestier and had his first big hit with "Lindberg". Invited to play the prestegious Parisian musical festival at L'Olympia in 1969, he threw his drum kit into the crowd when his psychedelic rock reveived a tepid reception. He entered politics as the Rhinosceros Party candidate for Prime Minister in 1969, and in 1970 he was one of the artists on the Festival Express tour across Canada. Over the past 30-odd years he has continued to be active as a musician, actor, author and comedian, and even found time to establish the largest independent brewery in Quebec. As for Louise Forestier, she gradually moved away from rock towards Quebecois folk music, and worked in film, television and theatre both as a producer and actress to great international acclaim.

This album has been called the Quebecois Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band in terms of its influence on musicians from that province, and it really is that good. "California" is a sort of cabaret/soul number, with Forestier smoothly crooning over a slinky organ line before the whole thing collapses into a cacophony of horns and shouting. "Lindberg" was the first Quebecois psychedelic rock hit, and again there's a pretty strong cabaret influence; I especially like Forestier's loopy whoops and hollers. "Engagement" is a hard funk number which Charlebois slurs, scats and screams his way through, sounding not unlike Can vocalist Damo Suzuki. "Dolores" is a fairly old-fashioned folk song, with a neat siren-like sound affect recurring throughout and some cool whistling towards the end. And "Long Flight" is probably my favourite of the bunch, a classic rock guitar epic which sounds kind of like a cross between late-'60s Pink Floyd and Joe Cocker.

Long Flight


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