Jean-Pierre Ferland

Jaune

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Pushed by Robert Charlebois' late-'60s conversion from a French-style singer/songwriter to a psychedelic rock star, Jean-Pierre Ferland decided to "plug in." He dropped Claude Denjean's lush ballroom orchestrations for something more provoking, enrolling arrangers Buddy Fasano and Art Philips, Charlebois' guitarist, Michel Robidoux, and producer/engineer André Perry, who had recorded the first album by Quebec's premiere experimental freak band, L'Infonie. Of course, that alone didn't ensure success. Jaune is most of all supported by exceptional writing from Ferland who, instead of going for something downright West Coast, found a voice of his own, both of international appeal and strongly Quebecois. Released in December 1970, Jaune (Yellow) became his best-selling album and had a lasting impact on Quebec rock. The quality of production and its conceptual album structure set new standards. It yielded a number of FM hits and propelled "Le Petit Roi" to timeless status throughout French-speaking countries. The album is filled with subtle wordplays and allusions from one track to the next. "God Is an American" pictures God pulling the plug on humanity as the record slowly stops spinning. "Le Chat du Café des Artistes," still Ferland's strongest song, is also his darkest: a man asks to be given to the cats when he dies. If one eats his heart he'll be able to stick around and become the cat of the Artists' Cafe. If the artists are hungry they can always eat him -- it wouldn't be the first time an artist got eaten alive. Prog rock fans will have quite a shock hearing the already fluent style of the young American bassist Tony Levin, who would later know fame in Peter Gabriel's band. Jaune coupled mass appeal (through the melodies of songs like "Le Petit Roi" and "Sing Sing") with an exquisite artistic flair. It is a masterpiece.

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