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The Flower Kings - Flower Power CD (album) cover

FLOWER POWER

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 366 ratings

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Roland113
Prog Reviewer
5 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Flower Power" by The Flower Kings is among the best all around Flower Kings albums.

I picked up "Flower Power" in the midst of a music buying frenzy that started in mid two thousand and seven and ended earlier this year. I picked up a lot of music during that time . . . I stopped counting after two hundred CD's. During this time period I acquired the entire Flower King's Discography amongst a whole bunch of other symphonic and neo prog. I say this to illustrate that I've had "Flower Power" for a yeah and a half now, though it only hit me as a masterpiece about two months ago. It was lost in the shuffle for a year.

This CD has all of the tricks and tribulations that one would expect from any The Flower King's CD. Excellent sound mix, tasteful keyboards by Tomas Bodin, tear jerking beauty from Roine Stolt's guitar solos. In addition, The Flower King's first rhythm section of Roine's brother Michael on bass and Jaime Salazar on drums is still in tact and firing on all cylinders. While, we don't quite get the mastery of Jonas Reingold yet, M. Stolt does a fine job here.

You can't talk about "Flower Power" without focusing on the epic "Garden of Dreams", a sixty minute romp through a variety of styles, moods and tones. The entire epic is a masterpiece from the rollicking theme of "Business Vamp" straight into Roine's first soulful solo in "All You Can Save". "Attack of the Monster Briefcase" revisits the "Business Vamp" theme with Salazar and extra percussionist Hasse Bruniusson at their percussive best; the cymbals behind the main beat are phenomenal. My favorite part of the "Garden of Dreams" epic is the "Mr. Hope Goes to Washington" section; Mr. Hope starts with about a minute of chaos produced by Michael Stolt's walking bass, Tomas Bodin's highly modulated keys and Mr. Burniusson's odd ball percussive work. Out of the midst of the chaos, Bodin breaks into a Steely Dan sounding riff with Roine Stolt doing a beautiful Walter Becker impersonation on the accompanying solo.

One of my criteria for a five star CD is whether or not there are any spine tingling moments. The first truly spine tingling moment for me comes in "Did I Tell You". As best as I can figure out, this is where God laments the violence in humanity, though it's sung from the perspective of a father loosing a son. I'm not horribly religious, but this bit is terribly powerful. Roine Stolt's voice is so perfect for this bit. Salazar's straight rhythm behind the minimalist music adds a beautiful character to this already magnificent bit.

Ironically, the "Garden of Dreams" section is one of the least memorable parts of the epic; it simply serves as a recovery period from the emotionally charged "Did I Tell You" with just enough space until the rocking "Don't Let the d'Evil In". Hasse Froberg joins in the fun by adding a nice harmony to Roine's vocals in "Love is the Word", Stolt's clean solo at the end of this piece is noteworthy as well.

"There's No Such Night" is similar to "Did I Tell You" in that the music is more a canvas for the vocals to stand out, though not as emotional. "The Mean Machine" is the first of two atmosphere pieces, this one a fairly energetic keyboard arpeggio with Tomas Bodin noodling above. From here, we hit "Dungeon of the Deep" which is one of two pieces from this album that I'll be playing in my house this Halloween. Lots of strings and oddly creepy choirs. "Indian Summer" is a somewhat wistful, reminiscent piece reminding me vaguely of something that Ralph Vaughn Williams or George Gershwin would write. "Sunny Lane" revisits the arpeggio from "The Mean Machine" with a vastly more upbeat sound and Tomas Bodin shining. "Gardens Revisited" and "Shadowland" are a pair of instrumentals featuring Roine at his best. Finally, "The Final Deal" is the 'Supper's Ending' to the piece, the long drawn out chords with the final message which alludes to a final resting place, my interpretation, the hero of the story heads off to heaven to meet God, "The dream is real" cries Roine, "it's more than we asked for." Please, don't let the religious overtones scare you off of this one, it's not over the top and the focus on ninety percent of the epic is the music and not the lyrics.

"IKEA by Night" written by Jaime Salazar is one of the funniest pieces of music in history. If I have a choice, I'd like it to be my deathbed music. I thank Progrules for this (see page 16 of The Flower Kings Appreciation Thread for details). "Astral Dog" is a somewhat Zappaesque instrumental, giving Roine another chance to shine.

Deep breath . . . ok, that was disk one. I am going to go through disc two a little more quickly in an effort to keep this under two thousand words.

"Deaf, Numb and Blind" is eleven minutes of fun, great vocals and drumming throughout. Personally, I really like "Stupid Girl" though it is on the poppy side. With a catchy chorus and somewhat bouncy feel, this one could have been a single with a little shortening . . . cause butter makes everything better. Corruption is a good enough song with Froberg's backing vocals adding to the chorus. "Power of Kindness" is a pipe organ piece by Bodin, more of a mood piece than one that really commands your attention.

"Psychedelic Postcard" shows the Yes influences nicely, more great harmonies especially towards the end with Stolt pretending to be Steve Howe; not my favorite song on the album, but nice nonetheless. "Hudson River Siren's Call 1998" is five minutes of muted haunting melody with an un-credited female vocalist warbling. This is the other song that will be played in the house of Roland this Halloween. The choir at the very end of the piece is just plain unsettling. (As a side note, this is a great song to irritate your neighbors if you work in a cube farm).

"Magic Pie" is one of their more controversial songs, many die hard Flower Kings fans, absolutely hate the song. It's reminiscent of seventies pop, think Ambrosia or maybe a Foreigner ballad from the eighties. It's not your typical Flower King fare, though written and sung by Mr. Froberg you'd almost expect something different. It reminds me of a high school dance. Of course, on the opposite end of the polarizing spectrum is "Painter" which really just kind of blends in there for me, and frankly, I don't think I've heard anyone really make a comment about this one. It's kind of forgettable, not bad, just not memorable.

"Calling Home" is a fairly progressive piece showcasing the rhythm section and, again, Roine Stolt on guitar. His solo at the seven minute mark is nicely done and the piece in total has a Genesis feel. Finally, we get to "Afterlife" which is a fairly simple closer, revisiting the sound of the entire album.

All in all, this is a fantastic double album, highlighted by the magnificent "Garden of Dreams", the Flower Kings epic to end all epics . . . or something catchy like that. Five stars.

Roland113 | 5/5 |

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