Robert Charlebois

Robert Charlebois (aka Fu Man Chu)

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By his first LP for the French label Barclay, Robert Charlebois had cleaned up his act: no more heavily vernacular lyrics, demented screaming, provocation, and psychedelic influences. Without coming back to his early days as a self-accompanied singer/songwriter, he had toned down his music to reach a wider audience. The resulting intelligent rock is brilliantly featured in the five songs comprising Robert Charlebois [aka Fu Man Chu]. The short LP (only 32 minutes) was highly successful and remains a highlight of his career and an essential item of '70s Quebec rock. "Le Mur du Son" (The Wall of Sound), promoting the universal qualities of music, a soaring melody, became a minor classic. "Conception" was a radio hit and remained in Charlebois' live sets for ages. A spirited Latin song with lyrics narrating the story of a Latin woman incapable of waiting for her imprisoned husband; Ramon, her lover; and Pistollio, the freshly freed husband who will stumble upon the couple, this song marks the singer's first foray in Latin rhythms (there will be plenty more). Finally, one must not forget the ten-minute epic "Fu Man Chu," where the atmosphere of old Western movies shown in community centers meets space-age rock. Here, the manic energy of vintage 1968 Charlebois has found a new voice. This LP also stands out because of the high-quality musicians backing the singer, especially bassist Bill Gagnon, who supplied very inventive lines in "Conception" and "Fu Man Chu." Recommended.

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