Charlebois: Première Période is a three-CD box set and a strange one, too. First, the title is misleading, since this "first period" covers the years 1972-1987. The singer started in 1965, but his early material, still the property of the record label Gamma, could not be included. His folk days, 1965-1967, and his psychedelic days, 1968-1971, should be considered his first and second periods. As for the years covered by the set itself, they could be split between his rock singer/songwriter style of the 1970s and the more pop-oriented sound of 1979 onward. Moreover, 1987 did not mark a turning point in his career; the 1988 album Dense shares enormous similarities with the 1985 Super Position. But what is on this "first period"? Disc one is a reissue of the 1987 LP Charlebois, Vol. 1, a disposable album of re-recorded songs (see its separate entry for more details). Disc two and three focus primarily on the singer's creative peak of 1972-1974, presenting most of the music found on Robert Charlebois [Aka Fu Man Chu], Solidaritude, and Robert Charlebois [Aka Je Rêve à Rio]. Selected cuts from Longue Distance, Solide, and Robert Charlebois [Aka J'T'Aime Comme un Fou] round up disc two. All tracks have been remastered (the label Solution was in the process of reissuing the singer's catalog) and are presented unedited except for "Fais-Toi Z-En Pas." There are no rare or unreleased tracks, and the CDs are simply packaged in a cardboard box that holds them together -- no thick booklet or anything else for that matter. The interest of this set has faded considerably now that all of Charlebois' albums are available on CD, especially the drum machine-plagued disc one. The CDs are also available separately as Charlebois, Vol. 2 and Charlebois, Vol. 3.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture