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The Flower Kings - Retropolis CD (album) cover

RETROPOLIS

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 363 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
4 stars To the reviewers who say this album is retro, I say, well duh!!! Of course it is retro, it is meant to be. In fact, all songs but the title track (and, I believe, the short Bodin compositions) were written in the 70's. Basically Stolt wanted to record some old stuff of his that he still liked, using modern equipment. As to plagerism, I will have to disagree. Yes, Rhythm of the Sea sounds like Crimson meets Genesis, and yes There is more to this world sounds more like Yes than Yes does. But this is not necessarily a problem. All music is a result of influences, no matter how innovative a musician or band may seem. Chances are, they are borrowing to some degree or other from earlier styles and musicians. This album just happens to take as its primary influences well known prog bands from the 70's. And since most of the material was written in the 70's, I don't think it is any surprise that it sounds like 70's prog. Because it IS 70's prog.

The album begins with ping pong. Okay, so not the greatest way to start the album, and the breaking glass noise and scream that leads to the title track looses it's humor after a few hundred times. The title track, however, is on of the best Flower Kings instrumentals. A fantastic bass line drives this melodic proggy number. The mellow break down in the middle is fantastic, with Bodin lavishing us with spooky mellotron sounds. Rhythm of the Sea is has Roine sounding very much like John Wetton on a song that resembles that era of Crimson (think Exiles or The Night Watch), in a song that tells the story of a person thinking of suicide but changing his mind as he looks out at the ocean.

There is More to This World is very much a Yes inspired number. With Howe like guitar, and positive, Anderson - like lyrics (only you can understand them). The middle section featuring the lead vocals of Hasse Froberg (not yet a member of the band) is pure Flower Kings happiness. Not my favorite song on the album, but a fan favorite. Certainly a strong song in the area of positive prog. Romancing the City, a short, minor key Bodin piano piece, leads seamlessly into The Melting Pot. This features a rather Arabian sounding sax, courtesy of Ulf Wallender. Another great instrumental number.

In Silent Sorrow, we get some Zappa influenced instrumental parts, a Beatles influenced Day In The Life type conclusion, and verses and choruses that are pure Roine Stolt. I've always loved this song and felt it was underrated among fans. The Judas Kiss, on the other hand, is generally highly regarded and rightfully so. A great heavier and darker number, with Pink Floyd overtones and some soaring lead guitar from Roine. Retropolis by Night is, I think, a great instrumental by Bodin, a very spacey and ambient type number utilizing an On The Run type sequencer underlying everything.

Flora Majora is not a favorite of mine, but does has some powerful moments and a good melody for an instrumental number. Towards the end we are treated to some minor key progressions similar to the end parts of Circus Brimstone from the following album. The Road Back Home ends the Flower Kings shortest album (and single CD, for that matter) in grand style. An acoustic beginning featuring Roine's fine heartfelt vocals leads to an uplifting chorus. After a repeat of these, with different lyrics, we enter the highly symphonic, hair standing up on the back of your neck (for me anyway) instrumental section. The song trails out on the chorus, ending in typical Flower Kings style with a grand major key flourish, fading gently away.

Anyway, this is my favorite Flower Kings album for this and many other reasons (it was the first one I ever heard). It is not the most original and inventive album ever made, but I'm reasonably sure that NO prog album is. As long as you love the 70's prog greats and are not expecting something totally new and different, this is an excellent album.

infandous | 4/5 |

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