Les Champignons

Les Champignons were a Québécois psych-rock band that released the 1972 album Première Capsule on self-press Les Jeunes Artistes Associés.

Members: Émile Naud (saxophone, flute, vocals), Alain Vincent (drums), Alain Lavalleé (bass), Daniel Maillette (keyboards), Jacques Paradis (guitar), Alain Charrette (guitar)


Background

Les Champignons (French for “The Mushrooms”) grew from a musical partnership between parishioner Émile Naud and two young guitarists, Jacques Paradis and his brother-in-law Alain Charrette.

Naud was a young priest at the St-Pierre Catholic Parish in Shawinigan. His background included choir and Gregorian chant. He played flute and saxophone. When Paradis and Charrette demonstrated their musical abilities, he assigned them to the church orchestra with other musical congregants. They performed at local rhythmic masses and won a four-month contract with Radio-Canada, which commissioned them for the Lord’s Day Masses, broadcast live on State Television from Cap de la Madeleine Cathedral in Trois-Rivières. In 1968, they backed Naud on Peuples de la Terre “Messe Fraternelle,” an album of spiritual pop on Disques Jerusalem.

By 1970, Naud left the priesthood and retained Paradis and Charrette for Champignons, a pysch-rock band with bassist Alain Lavalleé, drummer Alain Vincent, and keyboardist Daniel Maillette. They rented twin apartments in Laval and dubbed their commune “Happiness.”

In December 1971, Naud obtained a €48,000 government grant for studio time and assorted props (games, slides, lighting) featured in their stage show. They signed with Young Artistes Associés, a management firm co-founded by CHOM-FM radio host and Pop Jeunesse magazine staffer Georges “Géo” Giguère.


Première Capsule

Les Champignons released their singular album, Première Capsule (French for “First Capsule”),  in late 1972 on Young Artists Associés, the one-off label branch of Géo’s firm. The title is French for “First Premiere.”

Première Capsule features seven numbers composed by Émile Naud.

A1. “Dynamite” (3:31)
A2. “Le Ghetto Noir” (7:15) “The Black Ghetto”
A3. “Rêve Futur” (6:01) “Dream Future”
A4. “Le Train” (3:08)
B1. “Le Château Hanté” (11:30) “The Haunted Castle”
B2. “Folies Du Mercredi” (6:26) “Wednesday Follies”
B3. “POP-PINO” (1:30)

Sessions took place in October 1972 Studio D.S. Pantis, which the band used during low-cost graveyard hours. Champignons ented Pantis after all-day rehearsals, undertaken to avoid in-studio mistakes and retakes. At normal hours, Montréaler singer–songwriter Michel Pagliaro used Pantis for his 1972 album Pag.

Géo co-produced Première Capsule with Pierre Gauthier, who recorded three mid-Seventies albums as the guitarist in Aut’Chose.

Première Capsule sports a psychedelic cover by graphic artist Ginette Loranger with hand lettering by Jean Simard. Géo wrote the back-cover liner notes, which appear above a cutout group shot of Champignons against a backdrop of giant mushrooms.

With no distributor, Les Champignons handed the album out as a freebie to concert attendees. In a public stunt, they dressed as priests for a photoshoot near the Oratory of St. Joseph. Despite the intervention of local authorities, the photos hit the local papers.


Discography:

  • Première Capsule (1972)

Sources:

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