Robert Charlebois

Robert Charlebois (aka Le Mont Athos)

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A transitional album? A contractual obligation? One of many eponymous albums (usually designated by their first song, in this case "Le Mont Athos"), Robert Charlebois' seventh LP sounds halfhearted, but it is not the hodgepodge of singles and leftovers that was Un Gars Ben Ordinaire, released only a few months earlier. This opus from 1971 went by largely unnoticed and yielded no hit or even an important song. Still, it contains some interesting tracks, the first being "Le Mont Athos." Recorded with a string section, it features a very short set of lyrics, repeated many times as the music escalates toward a grandiose climax. This was the singer's tribute to Claude Gauvreau, a Quebec abstract poet who had recently died. The folklore-tinged "Ya Sa Pichou" is interesting but uncharacteristic of Charlebois' production at the time. The only remembrance of the burning grooves gracing the previous LPs, Robert Charlebois Louise Forestier and Québec Love, is found in "Mr. Plum," sung in English and dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock. A sordid tale of murder, the song is a cross between the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and Genesis' "Harold the Barrel" -- psychedelic, entertaining, and lightly demented. "Limoilou" is an early example of the singer's collaboration with lyricist/novelist Réjean Ducharme, a master of the play on words, but the song itself has no strong features. The album ends with "Terre-Love," an overlong piece built over Pachelbel's "Canon" and a short text (a pun, more precisely) by absurd playwright Alfred Jarry. For fans of this particular period in Charlebois' long career, this LP holds some good moments, but the casual listener would be well advised to skip it.

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