Robert Charlebois

Dense

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Anyone disappointed by Robert Charlebois' mid-'80s albums -- especially Super Position and the set of re-recorded hits Charlebois, Vol. 1 -- will have a hard time getting through Dense. The singer/songwriter was still running on empty and trying to reinvent himself as a Top 20 adult pop star. Released in 1988, the album is wrapped in synthesizers, cold drum machines, and middle-of-the-road production values. His lyrics have rarely been so uninspired, although the presence of cousin Jean Charlebois, who would be responsible for the best songs on the award-winning 1992 CD Immensément, helps salvage a few tracks. The standout number is "J'Veux Pu Qu'Tu M'Aimes" (I Don't Want You to Love Me Anymore), a funny, upbeat song where the singer can't get rid of a woman, no matter how rude he becomes. Another highlight is "Le P'tit Bonhomme Gris," a tribute to the then-recently deceased violinist Philippe Gagnon, an early sideman of Charlebois. The album ends with "Piano-Bar," an interesting inversion on his late-'60s classic "Joe Fingers Ledoux," where he impersonated a piano-bar performer. Now the pianist is heard in the back while the customer comments. But these details don't salvage what remains a poor album. Still, heavily marketed in Quebec, Dense yielded three hits: the aforementioned "J'Veux Pu Qu'Tu M'Aimes," "Graziella," and "Silence on Danse."

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