Drawing showing a farm and a tree on the horizon, between a completely yellow sky and earth.

The minimalist cover of the album “Jaune”, by Jean-Pierre Ferland

Photo: Audiogram/Discogs

The album YELLOW, launched in 1970, marked a turning point in the career of Jean-Pierre Ferland, who died at the age of 89 on Saturday evening. He also created a small revolution in Quebec. With a budget unheard of at the time, it is considered the first concept album to come from the province, and one of the first to feature so many synthesizers.

At the end of the 1960s, Quebec music was still marked by a dichotomy between singers in the vein of Félix Leclerc and yéyé artists, who covered popular English-speaking hits in French.

The first 10 years of his career, Jean-Pierre Ferland distinguished himself in the first category.

This shackles will be shattered with the arrival on the scene of Robert Charlebois and groups like L’infonie, who redefined musical boundaries with the inclusion of drums and electric guitar, more abstract texts and a mixture of genres.

For several singer-songwriters, there was a questioningexplained the musicologist Danick Trottier at the microphone of Jacques Beauchamp in 2020. It was after seeing Robert Charlebois at theOsstidcho that Jean-Pierre Ferland had a revelation.

The trigger: Charlebois, theOsstidcho and a first joint

The singer saw theOsstidcho with producer Guy Latraverse on his return from France, after the success ofA little further (1969). He was deeply moved by this show which mixed madness, music and humor, but especially by the disjointed performance of Robert Charlebois.

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I first saw that he was having fun on stage, which I hadn’t learned to do yet… Not enough of a star to be able to have funhe recalled in an interview with René Homier-Roy in 2017, on the show Come see the musicians.

It was humor… I wrote serious songs, my main objective in life was love. They had love and humor […] And they smoked joints.

A quote from Jean-Pierre Ferland, at the microphone of René Homier-Roy, in 2017

At 37, the man who described himself as rather he had never touched cannabis before. He will experience it during a trip to France with Michel Robidoux, guitarist of Robert Charlebois whom he had just recruited for his next album. The Little King in one go. That evening, I wrote The Little King in one go.”}}”>That evening I wrote The little king in one shot.

Yellow, the little revolution by Jean-Pierre Ferland. BROADCAST HERE FIRST. Today’s story.

The studio as a creative ally

Jean-Pierre Ferland composed YELLOW in concert with Michel Robidoux, spending six months in the studio with him and director André Perry. He also enlisted the services of three renowned American studio musicians, David Spinozza (guitar), Tony Levin (bass) and Jim Young (drums).

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The power of the trio permeates the entire album, particularly on God is an American, which recalls the musical flights of Charlebois concerts. Ant Phillips and Buddy Fasano will be recruited for arrangements.

Inspired by the first concept albums of the late 1960s, such as Pet Sounds Beach Boys or Sgt. Pepper’s of the Beatles, Ferland and his team wanted to make the studio an integral part of the creative process, taking the time to experiment.

I was the first in Quebec to use synths, but at that time, we had to bring them from Los Angeles. We had to bring in technicians with it, because we didn’t know how to operate it.he recalled.

We worked for hours trying to get a trumpet sound, but we didn’t want a trumpet player, we wanted this new sound he added.

A resonance beyond borders and beyond time

The swirls of YELLOW were also felt beyond borders and after its time, until 2009, when the actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg brilliantly covered the hypnotizing song The cat from the artists’ café on his album MRI following the proposal of its director Beck.

Closer to home, several artists, including Ariane Moffatt, Jérôme Minière and Champion, revisited the album with an electronic twist in 2005. Three years later, in the newspaper The Press, YELLOW was crowned the best Quebec album in history by a jury of 50 journalists and personalities from the recording industry.

The year before, CBC New Brunswick culture journalist Bob Mersereau had also placed the album at number 71 in his book The Top 100 Canadian Albums.

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