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The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog

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The Flower Kings Stardust We Are album cover
3.95 | 718 ratings | 62 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (58:10)
1. In the Eyes of the World (10:39)
2. A Room with a View (1:26)
3. Just This Once (7:54)
4. Church of Your Heart (9:11)
5. Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar (2:44)
6. The Man Who Walked with Kings (5:00)
7. Circus Brimstone (12:04)
8. Crying Clown (0:58)
9. Compassion (4:48)
+ [untitled hidden track] (3:26)

CD 2 (71:50)
10. Pipes of Peace (1:20)
11. The End of Innocence (8:29)
12. The Merrygoround (8:18)
13. Don of the Universe (7:03)
14. A Day at the Mall (0:45)
15. Different People (6:20)
16. Kingdom of Lies (5:48)
17. If 28 (2:15)
18. Ghost of the Red Cloud (4:38)
19. Hotel Nirvana (1:50)
20. Stardust We Are (25:04)

Total Time 130:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Hasse Fröberg / lead & backing vocals
- Roine Stolt / electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, lead vocals
- Tomas Bodin / piano, Rhodes, Hammond, Mellotron, Waldorf synth, pipe organ, Optigan, accordion, effects, co-producer & mixing
- Michael Stolt / bass
- Jaime Salazar / drums
- Hasse Bruniusson / percussion

- Ulf Wallander / soprano saxophone
- Håkan Almkvist / sitar, tabla

Releases information

Artwork: Hippified Art

2CD Foxtrot Records ‎- FOX CD 018 (1997, Sweden)
2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 048 (1999, Europe)

3LP + 2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLP 048 (2014, Europe) Full album on both media

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy THE FLOWER KINGS Stardust We Are Music

THE FLOWER KINGS Stardust We Are ratings distribution

(718 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE FLOWER KINGS Stardust We Are reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Some of my friends rated this along with the Lamb on Broadway when it came out and I told to listen better and most of them never play this anymore , of course this only applies to the crusty old timers that we are , as most other young people did make this their Holy Grail. I sometimes wonder if the FK was not setting the goal at making the lengthiest tracks possible . In the following years they will put out many other fully filled double Cds full of fillers , lenghty directionless "jams "( lack of more precise word as this were not jams per se) , making for an incredible output in quantity but not quality. This is only an opinion and is not aimed at hurting anybody, artist or fans.
Review by loserboy
4 stars Without a question these guys are just boiling over with song writing skills and musicianship. Severely underrated album from The FLOWER KINGS with some simply exquisite musical passages. "Stardust We Are"" is a 2 CD set which gets the opportunity to explore a wide range of musical possibilities ranging from short Church organ centric ditties to the 25 minute epic title track. This album showcases Tomas Bodin's talents behind the vast array of keyboards that he performs on with masterful strokes. In many ways this concept album digs deep into the spirtual side of life obviously injected with Stolt's musical positivism. Roine Stolt and his band of merrymen deliver some grand progressive rock moments far too many to try to detail here.
Review by lor68
3 stars Well the right rate is "3 stars and 1/2", as I prefer the single CD format of "Retropolis", which alone contains the whole variety of musical ideas by Roine Stolte. Nevertheless this "Sturdust We Are" is probably their most complete, even though in the double CD format. However talking about its defects, I have to remark the following considerations:

First of all "The Eyes of the World" is a jazzy ELP-oriented piece of "classic prog music", dominated by a "RETRO-EPOQUE" old organ, thanks also to the rotary effect of the Leslie speakers... and this arrangement doesn't contribute to make the sound modern!! Besides the voice of Stolte is much similar to that one of John WETTON, but in the most crepuscular vein (listen to "Starless" from "Red" by KING CRIMSON, and you understand the reason why...); generally they try to alternate the melancholic atmospheres and those ones typical of their hardest tunes, often skillfully, always thinking of the CAMEL-like melodic guitar instrumentals (listen to "Ice", in the album "I can see your house from here" by CAMEL, and you understand a lot of things !!). This happens in the track "The Man Who Walked With Kings", whose retro-style of a soft pipe-organ introduces the main section, characterized by a stunning melodic guitar-solo, despite of being much in the vein of Andy Latimer!! Anyway in my opinion the best track of the album is the mini-suite "Circus Brimstone", whose profuseness of mellotron, in the chorus section, reminds us of "Hybris" by ANGLAGARD; but these latter however stand on another planet, that F.K. can't reach, always according to my opinion ... anyway by prosecuting to listen to this 1st disc till the end, you find the track "Compassion", the last song of the 1st disc, which is almost TANGERINE DREAM-oriented, above all in the last part, where you hear a kind of electronic space rock, quite unusual for them.

The second disc is a bit discontinuous, as from the presence of a couple of commercial tracks, even though in the instrumental "Don of the Universe" F.K. try to use a different range of instrumentation such as the sax and the sitar, which make this track more original.

Finally -regardless of a couple of forgettable tracks ("Different People and "Ghost of the Red Clouds") and some normal songs. I like to talk about the last suite (honestly too much long) - the title track - which is their best effort so far... certainly the duration - 25 minutes - doesn't help to maintain our concentration high, but the suite grows in dynamics, thanks also to the support of the second vocalist ( Hans Froberg), whose higher voice contributes to make the repetition of their themes less boring . Moreover the religious and spiritual lyrics are quite interesting !!

Recommended, along with "FLOWER KINGS" (in some circumstances only) and "Retropolis", their best albums (even though - unfortunately - their last productions begin to fall into the common places of such psychedelic prog music and metal prog too!!)

Review by hdfisch
3 stars Edited 10/01/05!

This is the first of two double albums in a row and as the follow-up FLOWER POWER not quite on par with the excellent RETROPOLIS album. Many people are complaining about the fact that they released that many double albums but in my view they did this, because they've got an enormous reservoir of material and they are very versatile in the style of their songs, ranging from soulful mellow songs over symphonic epics to heavy rocking or jazz fusion / free jazz pieces. And since they don't want to withhold any of this good stuff to their fans, it simply does not fit on a single CD. And of course they cannot fulfill the wishes of everybody. But I think their hardcore fans appreciate everything they are offering and are happy about every extra song of them, no matter which style it is. For me they are probably the only band I know which are able to let the most emotional song not sound like sob stuff, because their compositions are all the time of highest quality and there are very few songs with a really simple structure. And last but not least as well due to Roine Stolt's cool vocals. So now let's come to the songs on this album more in detail.

CD 1

In the Eyes Of The World is a fantastic epic song and one of their best pieces. It's very rocking, prog-ish, atmospheric and grooving and even the vocodered vocals are fitting in some way. A song which is an essential on all their concerts. After a short interlude Just This Once is following, which is really not less interesting with plenty of joyful sounds and tunes. Next highlight is Church Of Your Heart, a very lush ballade and a very nice listen even for me (someone who usually doesn't like songs if they become too much bombastic). Then we have Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar, a pure acoustical one presented by Roine on guitar. As well the next track The Man Who Walked With Kings is a rather quiet instrumental piece, almost drifting towards a New-Age sound before fortunately guitars are setting in again. After all this relaxed (but not boring I would say) music the sound is shifting quite dramatically with the weird trip through the Circus Brimstone where we can listen once again to all musicians at their very best. Last track on this CD is Compassion, again a rather quiet one with dramatic vocals.

First CD is really brilliant!

CD 2

Second CD starts with church organ in Pipes of peace, very great opener. The End Of Innocence is starting with atmospheric keyboards, then continuing with quite CRIMSON-alike guitar lines. The whole song is in a very melancholic mood. A very beautiful elegiac and symphonic track, maybe a little bit too much derivative, but I don't care, I like it. With The Merrygoround tempo is lifting up considerably, it's actually more or less just a happy pop-rock song, but a nice contrast to the previous one and the way like such rather "weak" songs of them are composed and performed, it's really not disturbing and there is no need to press the skip button. Nevertheless great keyboard playing and rhythm section. Don Of The Universe is an oriental inspired song with nice sitar and tablas, nothing special, rather pop-ish but well done and a very nice listen. I love it! Then there is just a short jazzy interlude followed by a few rather pop-ish songs, of which I would call Kingdom Of Lies the weakest one. It's really a simple pop song miles below their level and almost a case for the skip button. But I'm still resisting. Hotel Nirvana has a rather dark sound and is leading to the only real highlight of the second CD, the title theme of the album. This one is showing once again that epic longtracks are the band's strongest field. Symphonic prog at its very best with many variations, great solos and grooving sections inbetween.


The first CD of this album is definitely the better one and would deserve a rating of 4. The second one contains to many rather leight weighted songs and just due to the fantastic title track it's still worth 3 stars. So finally the whole album is coming to 3 and a half star actually I would say! Not really an essential one in prog but still very good!

Review by chessman
4 stars this album is the one that first demonstrates the immense talent this band has. The debut was solid, but unspectacular, whilst 'Retropolis' was, for me, disappointing, lacking in melody and sounding somewhat disjointed. (See my reviews for these albums.) I know other fans rate 'Retropolis' as one of their best, but for me, it is their least enjoyable. Now this album is a different matter! A two disc ride of enjoyable melodies and superb playing. Although the Kings have their own style, their biggest influence, Yes, still shows through at times. 'In The Eyes Of The World' is quite a heavy, upbeat type of song, the type that doesn't usually do anything for me, but it is a great opener here. Excellent vocals and guitar work. then comes a trademark short keyboard led instrumental, 'A Room With A View' which is very nice, almost reminds me of Tomita. (Remember him?) 'Just This Once' is one of the tracks with a Yes influence. The guitar work is both Howish, and, near the end, Peter Banksy in its tone. A nice change of pace for the ending of this track, slowing down after the medium paced main body of the song has finished. I like this one. Then comes the standout track on disc one, the amazing 'Church Of Your Heart'. This is classic Yes, both in melody, and in vocals, thanks to Hasse's Jon Anderson type harmonies. Even the keyboards about two thirds through sound like something off 'Going For The One'. A beautiful song, and one of their best, in my opinion. Then comes the short acoustic instrumental, 'Poor Mr Rain's Ordinary Guitar' which is very soothing. This leads into 'the Man Who Walked With Kings', which is another instrumental, with acoustic and electric guitar. It is nice, but not one of my favourites. 'Circus Brimstone', again, instrumental, is another monster, one which took a little time to grow on me, but eventually became a favourite. It certainly has a circus feel, mainly thanks to the keyboards, and it is very complex, with many changes in speed and instrumentation. Superb. 'Crying Clown' sounds almost like a continuation of 'Circus', and is a short instrumental. 'Compassion', as far as I can tell, is unique amongst Flower Kings tracks, as it doesn't really sound like one of their songs. You can still tell Roine's voice, but the music is laid back and monkish in nature, especially the backing vocals. It is effective though, and, just when you thought it had finished, it starts again with some disturbingly atmospheric synthesiser work, very good indeed. Disc 2 opens with another short instrumental, 'Pipes Of Peace', which introduces for the first time the melody of the title track. More excellent keyboard work here. 'The End Of Innocence' is quite moody, and not one of my faves, but is still a decent effort. 'The Merrygoround' is more in the style of Yes again, uptempo, with nice guitar work. 'Don Of The Universe' is a fine instrumental, well played and uplifting. 'A Day At The Mall' is, again, a keyboard instrumental, short and amusing. 'Different People' is another Yes type song, again, catchy and melodic. 'Kingdom Of Lies' is upbeat, and again has a Yes influence. 'If 28' is a very atmospheric instrumental. I like this one a lot. Likewise, 'Ghost Of The Red Cloud' with an almost reggae feel to it, is superb. 'Hotel Nirvana' is another short, atmospheric guitar piece,really lovely, and quite disturbing, although it hardly gets going before it has to make way for the album's final piece, the title track and 25 min plus epic 'Stardust We Are'. Very much influenced by Yes, this is in three parts, all wonderful. One of the classic Flower Kings tracks. Roine sings the first two parts, then Hasse does his Jon Anderson impression to bring the track to a fitting, soaring climax. Even the guitar work as the track ends is reminiscent of the guitar work ending 'Awaken' off 'Going For The One'. Tremendous stuff! Overall, this is probably my third favourite Flower Kings album, and, for me, has no filler. Highly recommended for any fan of technical, complex, Yes influenced prog. Stop reading this and buy it!
Review by NJprogfan
4 stars I remember reading a review of this album somewhere comparing the band to YES. Since, at the time, I was flirting with going back to listening to prog, I bought the CD. I couldn't believe there was a band recording music as complex, melodic, and all over the map as The Flower Kings. Ronnie Stolt and his cronies ape many bands from the past, but their talent as musicians compensates. The album is just plain fun! Since then, I've purchased all the albums and can conclude that this is my favorite. It contains two of my absolute favorite songs by them, "Just This Once" and "Church Of Your Heart". When I heard "Church Of Your Heart" for the first time I had to do a double-take, 'Was that Jon Anderson singing behind the lead singer?'. Of course as we all know, it's the fantastic voice of Mr. Hans Froberg. And man o' man, that pipe organ is fabulous! Then I realized why they are compared to YES. It wasn't because of the music, (you can pick any 70's prog band and they compare), it wasn't the lyrics, (cosmic/trippy as they might be, but not on par with Anderson's),'s just so damn JOYOUS! I cannot think of one downright depressing moment out of any song. Be it lyrically based or not, there is a happiness to their music. Is it because they love what they do and are having a good time doing it? Listen for yourself. And for all you fine folks out there who haven't purchased a Flower Kings album and want to start out, this is the one. I would rank it as one of the best symphonic albums of the 90's. Maybe not THE best, but boys and girls you'll want to set aside some quality time, pick up the headphones or blast it thru your car speakers and collect that stardust! A solid 4.5 stars me chippies!
Review by Zitro
4 stars 4.4 stars

After hearing the Great Emerson Lake & Palmer oriented piece from Progarchives' free MP3, I decided to buy this album. I was already curious of this band since the guitar player from Transatlantic is the Flower Kings leader. What a nice purchase I made!

1. In The Eyes Of The World (A-) : Starts with ELP-influenced Hammond organ riffing which introduces the main theme which has an anthemic organ riff and processed vocals. It later turns into a carefully arranged instrumental section which eventually transitions itself back into the main theme.

2. A Room With A View : Transition.

3. Just This Once (C+) :the intro makes me cringe, but when the song starts, they contain memorable melodies. Nevertheless, this is one of the weakest songs in this album.

4. Church Of Your Heart (A/B) This is a song with Yes influences. It features great church organ playing and vocal harmonies. It is a very optimistic song.

5. Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar : Acoustic guitar transition

6. The Man Who Walked With Kings (A) : a Genesis-inspired instrumental piece showing the melodic side of the Flower Kings. This one does show the technical talents of the band as the next one does, but it still is among the best pieces in Stardust We Are.

7. Circus Brimstone (A-) : The playing is very difficult and overly complex, making it a challenging track but ultimately satisfying during the first 7-8 minutes of the song. I find the Backward vocals amusing, but what follows is a bit too playful to me. Overall, a very scary song for anyone afraid of clowns.

8. Crying Clown : a transition.

9. Compassion (A/B) : This Roger Waters influenced song gives a message of loving and accepting all people around you. The music is repetitive and slowly builds into a climax which features the electric guitar. The second half of the song is very electronic sounding and reminds listeners of Vangelis, but it is completely unnecessary and you can just skip it.

CD 2:

1. Pipes Of Peace : Great transition that uses Stardust we Are melodies.

2. The End Of Innocence (B+) : It is a mellow track that ends with a longish guitar solo.

3. The Merrygoround (B) : This is a happy track with good musicianship. Not the greatest song, but the last minutes feature very good guitar playing.

4. Don Of The Universe (B) : a very good instrumental with sitars and stands out from the other tracks in the disc. The Stardust we Are Melodies are heard here as well. It seems like filler, but it is still a good instrumental. 5. A Day At The Mall : short transition

6. Different People (C+) : A good pop song, but nothing groundbreaking.

7. Kingdom Of Lies (C-) : an average pop song about drugs (hints at the chorus). Good lyrics, and nice melodies, but nothing special. It screams filler. 8. If 28 : the best transition. Great piano melodies that are later heard in the title track.

9. Ghost Of The Red Cloud (B-) : raggae-rock/pop song. Original with good vocals/melodies. 10. Hotel Nirvana : transition piece but leads to ...

11. Stardust We Are (A+) : It is a phenomenal epic song filled with quality-melodies, substantial instrumental music, and unforgettable refrains near the end. This is their most coherent epic to date, and possible their most satisfying one.

All in all this is an outstanding album from the Flower Kings. This band seems to be the best of the modern prog rockers. I hope they still continue Making more music.

My Grade : A/B

Review by The Crow
4 stars This album has the same problem that almost every double CD studio album I know: it has some songs that haven´t enough quality, and it appears to be artificially elonged...

The Flower Kings is a great band, no one can´t deny it. Roine Stolt is one of the best prog-minds from the 90´s. But he has this addiction to make too long albums, with some memorable songs, while other songs are just forgettable... I think that one album isn´t better if it´s longer. And "Stardust We Are" is a good example...

Songs that don´t allow this album being a masterpiece in my opinion: Just This Once (just a little boring and without soul song...), Compassion (very boring and with some extra final minutes really forgettable...), Pipes of Piece (songs like this make this album a little repetitive, because here we can hear the Stardust We Are main melody again, like in the whole album...), The End Of Innocence (like Just This Once, a song that make nothing for me...) and Hotel Nirvana (another silly trasition song...)

The rest of the record is pretty good, even excellent most of the time. But there are more things I miss in this album. First: Jonas Reingold, because Michael Stolt was a good bass player for the band, but Jonas Reingold is just an impressive player, one of the best I´ve heard! Second: more long songs, because I thing that it´s the best face of the Flowers. Third: more Hasse Froberg´s singing, because I prefer his voice than the Roine Stolt´s one.

The last thing I must comment of this album, is that it's an improvement im comparision with "Back in the World of Adventures" and "Retropolis", although this albums were excellent. Despite the forgettable moments, Stolt managed to improve the songwriting, offering his first long epic, Stardust We Are, the great highlight of the album!

Best songs: In the Eyes of the World (strong and dynamic opening... Powerful Salazar's drums here!) Church of Your Heart (a great keyboards work...), The Merrygoround (happy and very catchy song...), Don Of The Universe (beautiful guitar work...), Kingdom of Lies (commercial, but pretty enjoyable...) The Ghost of The Red Clowd (I just like it very much, I don´t know why. It´s very evocative and you can really imagine this Ghost in the Clouds hearing the song...) and Stardust We Are (the epic of the album, with a memorable ending...).

Conclusion: without some forgettable songs, wich spoil part of the beauty this album has, I would have given this album the highest rating... But sorry, I can't. It's too long, even boring sometimes, despite its outstanding moments. Nevertheless, this is an improvement from the two previous The Flower King's releases, a very important moment in this band's career, and a strongly recommended album for all the symphonic prog lovers of the planet!!!

My rating: ****

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Oh my God, this album stirs my emotions!!!

I believe there must be good thing beside bad thing we are experiencing. Bad thing? Oh yes, I've been waiting for my amazon's order of "Paradox Hotel" to arrive at my address but till now I haven't got it yet. Nothing wrong with amazon as actually the CD is already in town but I still cannot pick it up. So, I played this album altogether with "Flower Power" since last week to kill the waiting time of "Paradox Hotel". "Stardust We Are" has been with me since it was first released but I never paid enough attention to it - I just played it occasionally and did not really enjoy it seriously. What I find now is a terrific experience because I enjoy the album very much. It stirs my emotions deeply, especially if I listen to "The End of Innocence" (Disc 2, track 2). Oh my God ... the music is truly powerful! It combines great melody, stunning guitar work and harmonious vocals. Everything moves smoothly from start to end. Roine Stolt plays his guitar with his "heart" as he plays really soft and wonderful! Nggeblak man! (my mind is totally paralyzed enjoying the wonderful composition and memorable melody offered by this song.). Awesome.

Disc One

The opening track "In The Eyes of The World" kicks off the album wonderfully with great pulsating keyboard by Bodin combined with stunning guitar work by Stolt and harmonious vocals. Structure-wise this track is relatively straight forward but it has rich styles and tempo changes. There are bits of Genesis, Yes and ELP in terms of nuance but none of notes are the same or even similar with those of early bands. It's hard to deny that this is one of The Flower Kings best compositions which I'm sure would attract many prog lovers. "A Room With A View" is an ambient short bridge with soft keyboard which connects to dynamic and mind blowing keyboard work which opens "Just This Once". Oh, yes ... this is another great track with keyboard sounds at the back reminiscent of "The Fountain of Salmacis" of Genesis. It's not truly the same but the nuance is pretty similar. I do enjoy this track very much especially if I play it loud because the sonic quality of the CD is top notch, coming from excellent production by Don Azzaro. This is what I like with most of TFK albums: the sound recording is amazing, it has more bass sounds than most of any music recordings. What is interesting alsoi with this track is the jazz intermission in the middle of the track featuring Stolt guitar solo in jazzy style.Really cool, man! Again, I love this track very much!

"Church of Your Heart" brings the music down into slower tempo but still maintaining quite balanced combination of ballad and symphonic style. It's quite an enjoyable track especially the chorus which makes people to emulate. The silent break in the middle of the track with organ solo is really nice. Composition-wise this track is dominated with keyboard / organ sounds at the background with symphonic style. The music flows in a floating style that in a way it connects us to the music of Pink Floyd even though it's different in style. "Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar" is a relatively short break with nice acoustic guitar work. "The Man Who Walked With Kings" (instrumental) starts wonderfully with a great combination of acoustic guitar and keyboard in classical music style. The keyboard sound turns into mellotron-like sound mixed thinly at the background of the music. The music then flows by the entrance of bass and drum in relatively slow tempo. Oh my God the guitar solo really kills me! It sounds like a combination of Hackett and Fripp styles with catchy melody an it makes it memorable. Definitely, this is one of my favorite tracks! Wonderful!

"Circus Brimstone" is another great composition with opening part that reminds me to a blend of avant-garde and symphonic styles. You might smell the King Crimson nuance around the opening part. The music then flows naturally with excellent combination of guitar, keyboard, drums and bass in dynamic way. What's so interesting is that by now I have come to track no 7 and the magic about this album is that it seems from track 1 until 7 (even until at the end of Disc 2) they share the same theme. Yes, all tracks seem like to form one cohesive whole - just like a story. That's the beauty of this album. "The Crying Crown" is a very short bridge that connects to "Compassion". The concluding track reconfirms how excellent this album is. The opening part sounds like a different bit than the other previous tracks with distorted vocal line and programmed music. The soft keyboard work which firmly enters the scene makes a unique texture. The flow of music is a symphonic one with variation of church organ. Officially, this track ends at minute 4:45 as printed at the CD sleeve - but it has bonus keyboard exploration in spacey nuance. It does not attract me- but it's okay, I just skip it.

Disc Two

Disc Two starts off with a kind of overture "Pipes of Peace" which resembles songs to be featured including excerpts from the title track which will be fully performed at the end of Disc Two. The second track, as I told you at the beginning of this write-up, is a killer, "The End of Innocence" which I don't need to elaborate further. "The MerryGoRound" brings the music into much faster tempo with dazzling keyboard work combined with guitar rhythm. This track sounds to me like an energizer after hearing a mellow track with a bit of King Crimson style. This time the band brings us to another nuance with many tempo changes. The music turns into silent / mellow in the middle of the track with bluesy guitar work.

"Don The Universe" starts with guitar acoustic outfit followed with drums and bass in relatively slow tempo. Keyboard kicks in with eastern nuance, enriched with the percussion work which confirms the eastern style of music. The rhythm section of this track is repeated over and over so it makes me getting bored. "Different People" continues the music with eastern nuance and is accessible to many ears - especially the chorus part. "Kingdom of Lies" is a nice song performed in medium tempo in relatively straight forward structure, packed with multi-layered keyboard sounds intertwined with guitar work. "If 28" is a transition with classical piano touch. "Ghost of The Red Cloud" is humorous, I would say, as far as this album concern. The music is basically laid on rhythm section in reggae music. If you listen to this kind of song in regular pop music compilation you might not like it. But it becomes different now as other tracks of this album are relatively complex. The presence of this kind of music enriches the flavor of the album. But don't worry ...!!! This is not totally like Bob Marley's reggae but it has stunning guitar rhythm and solo during interlude.

The concluding track is an epic title track which comprises three parts. The first part opens with beautiful exploration of acoustic guitar combined with keyboards, bass, guitar and drums. There are some influences of King Crimson during first part. The guitar solo is stunning during the opening part. Judging only from the first three minutes of this long track, one might see the brilliant composition this track offers. The flow of this epic is also wonderful. There are some guitar shots in jazzy style. The song might sound too long during the first part as there is practically no peak at the opening part. But when it enters minute 9 it turns out to be an interesting track to enjoy. The epic track gives many surprises in terms of tempo and style changes even though it does not happen suddenly - most of them have excellent and smooth transition. It's definitely a masterpiece track.


It's an absolute excellent album from The Flower Kings. Most of you who keep an eye on the development of the band might have the same view with me about The Flower Kings. Disc One contains songs which have some similarities in style and nuance while Disc 2 is much diverse but it still maintains excellent theme of the overall album. The overall composition is really tight combined with powerful songwriting and excellent sonic quality of the album. For those of you who never bought any album of TFK, you can perfectly start with this album. It's highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

PS. By the time I finished up this write-up, my "Paradpox Hotel" CD has been with me for four days now but I still cannot digest the music rightaway. After 5 spins I could understand and access the music.

Review by Moatilliatta
3 stars Stardust We Are is the first double disc effort from The Flower Kings. This one has more of an identity than it's predeccesors, but in it's duration loses some points due to inconsistency in quality. Here is the problem, they had enough five star material to fill up both discs really (keeping each at just under an hour). For some reason they felt they should fill up all of the time they could with that second disc, and they did so with mediocre material. It makes me wonder though, becasue the first disc is only 54 minutes long. The second disc could have been about the same length too, and it wouldn't have lost any value, if not gained.

The first disc is a masterpiece. Every song is fantastic, displaying their strongest material yet. From the powerhouse opener "In the Eyes of the World" to the excellent "Just This Once" to the Yes-like ballad "The Church of Your Heart" to the stunning and fabulous instrumental series of "Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar," "The Man Who Walked With Kings," and "Circus Brimstone" and finishing with "Compassion" (I didn't include the short transitional pieces), we have faultless material. It has plenty of variety, plenty of fun, plenty of emotion (The Man Who Walked With Kings, particularly, is one of the most stirring instrumentals I've ever heard), plenty of excellent performances, etc. All they would have had to do is throw the title track in at the end (I think it would just barely fit), and we would have a perfect album.


We have a second disc. It starts out very promising. After a short intro, with a foreshadowing of the epic closer, "The End of Innocence" begins with one of my all-time favorite portions of a song. The first two minutes are so heart-wrenching. Beautiful vocal line and perfect accompanying guitar licks. I love when The Kings do stuff like this. Unfortunately the next 6 minutes of the song go elsewhere and never return to where it began. The rest of the song is still pretty good, but after such a marvelous start, I can't appreciate the rest as much, I guess. The next two pieces are pretty good too: "The Merry-Go-Round" is a happy piece, and "Don of the Universe" is a good instrumental with a sitar incorporrated into it. Not as stellar as the previous disc, but good nonetheless. Here is where the albums only problem lies. Tracks 6-9 (save "If 28," which is a good piano interlude) are a bunch of mediocre songs in contrast to the rest of the album. "Different People," namely, is a good pop song, but it and the other two following songs don't stand up to the power of it's co-habitants on the album. The last piece, at just over 25 minutes, "Stardust We Are" more than makes up for what was lost before, and is a fine ending to a fine album.

Aside from a few negligible interludes and the weak tracks on the second disc, this album is packed with excellent music. It's not totally a masterpiece for the stated faults on the second disc, but the good material is just so good. I'm trying hard to keep myself from giving this one the five stars, and I will suceed. I would say 4 1/2, but for it's excesses and keeping away my biased opinion of some of it, I'll leave it at 4.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars "Stardust We Are" is the third release from THE FLOWER KINGS, and stands up well to the previous record "Retropolis".This album has an almost carnival like atmosphere to it. There is so much material on this double disc release, and for the most part it's all good.

"In the Eyes Of The World" is a perfect way to start, it's just a great tune featuring excellent guitar, keyboards and vocals. "Just This Once" is another highlight with terrific melodies and some sampled mellotron. "Church Of Your Heart" is such an amazing, uplifting song about believing in yourself. My favourite song on the first disc is "The Man Who Walked With Kings", it is one of the best instrumentals I have ever heard, very CAMEL-like with some fantastic soaring guitar. Another highlight is "Circus Brimstone" a very good darker sounding instrumental, especially the heavy parts. "Compassion" features emotional lyrics with some scorching guitar that fits the passionate vocals well.

Disc 2 starts off with a powerful pipe organ and "Stardust We Are" melodies. Some more mellotron sampling on "The End Of The Innocence" a slower, long track. The "Merrygoround" has a nice extended guitar solo in it, although it's a keyboard driven tune. "Don Of The Universe" features lots of sitar and again a "Stardust We Are " melody. More sitar in "Different People" with some atmospheric guitar, good song. "Ghost Of The Red Cloud" has a reggae sound to it. Finally the epic "Stardust We Are" is just an awesome song in every way, the highlight from this second disc and the whole album.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A flawed masterpiece, I'll say it now and make myself clear: this wonderful collection of songs, were it not so long, would have been one of my top 5 albums of all time, for it has some of the best songs you can get in TODAY's symphonic rock... but, yes, the traditional elephantism from which axe-genius Roine Stolt suffers heavily: a lot of songs, a couple TOO MANY.

That's why I won't do a track by track review here, I'll just mention the tracks I think make this album a piece of art and that, by themselves, would have made a perfect, flawless record worthy of 6/5 stars instead of the 4 I'm giving it. So, this means, this are the only songs I would've put in this album, all the others, which I won't even talk about, are of little worth and make a dent in this otherwise perfectly smooth sculpture:

My Ideal Stardust We Are:

In The Eyes of the world (11/10), sorry for the hyperbolization, I lose objectivity when it comes to this song, it's one of my 5 favorite of all time, it's just 10 minutes long (it's curious that for us prog-lovers 10 minutes is only an average song length), but the most driving, insane, adrenalin-pumping, desperating minutes you can get. For the initial notes played in a playful keyboard, the song actually perfectly conveys the idea of a person that feels like he's just a clown in the eyes of everybody have the clown part (the funny, burlesque melody) and you have the inherent tragedy for every clown, you can feel that double-sided coin that is saying "I'm a clown: i appear to be happy, I'm completely miserable)...the wonderful verse gives way to the pre-chorus (I love, love when a band knows how to build tension by adding a pre-chorus before a song's chorus), a moment of ambiguity, and then the concise, definitive, cutting chorus where the lines I just quote appear makes his grandiose, if ultimataly soul-crashing entrance....this song has such a drive, a groove, it's so dynamically moving, not only soul-moving but also feet-moving!! (I just can't stop my feet from playing "fake bass drum and hi hat" when I listen to this)...there's a middle instrumental section, with some form of resignation by the sad character, but then reality comes and strikes back: after this trio-like section (trio as in classical third movements - scherzo-trio-scherzo), the impetuous comes back, the train breaks the barrier, truth falls on top of you: "work - your- way up like a bulldozer" as you may, you're stilla clown in the eyes of the world, and as the song ends, you realize you'll always be....Is this song actually that good? I don't care what anybody says, I just Know this is one of the best ever and maybe my absolute favorite... this "short" track alone is worth the price of admission....

Church of your heart, (10/10)... who said beauty is absent of today's prog???? have you listen to this song without "only classics prog"-prejudice out of your mind? This band, we all know, still believe in peace, love, hippism... this songs could well be the anthem for their Flower Nation.... it's so beautiful, at times beatific (yes, others before them discovered the possibilities of making a synth do church like sounds, but not everybody can use a good idea and make it work so flawlessy and even BETTER than the original).... the church that your heart is is best represented in the abnormally precious, wonderful chorus... if after listening to this song you don't feel like you love all mankind, man, let's bring Dr. Freud in here.... kidding....

Circus brimstone (9/10) great instrumental track, you feel like you're in a circus... after the man who felt like a clown in the first song, you are now in the actual circus, but without clowns.... very good descriptive-musicianship, as you clearly get the idea of being surrounded (like in a green-dream, you know what I'm talking about, hippism couldn't be true without some), being in the midst of a great Barnum Ringling, but deserted.... excellent

Compasion (9/10), an atmospheric, uttelry deppressing track, that stars so quiet, with just an echo of Stolt's voice asking for compassion for people against an eerie backdrop, like asking for compassion while being in the place less likely to allow for it... (isn't that the earth?) This song feels like that: you are asking for something nobody will ever give you... it has a Floydian, spacey atmosphere, inusual fot the Flower kings but again, STARdust we are... a crescendo arrives to the final climax when it seems that compassion is just not possible....

End of innocence (8/10), a good instrumental, with atmospheric keyboards, an unhappy mood to it...a track we need to include in our ideal album for it serves its purpose...

Different people (8/10), yes, is the most poppy song in the album, but, I know my swedes, they HAVE to have a poppy song in every record...and as always, their poppy songs are joyful, soul-lifting...we need a track like this in our ideal album before....

Stardust we Are (10/10), an epic of epic proportions (I know that sounded stupid... but I mean: epic size, epic IDEA for that's what the song deals about).... a gigantic song with amazing musicianship, a coherent strcuture, great vocals by underrated vocal master Hasse Froberg... this song builds in tension as the lyrics do until, near the end, the band finally proclaims, like the culmination of the inherent concept behind the whole disc: Stardust we are.... nothing more, nothing less....we are just dust, we are just a particle within this infinite universe...but we come from the STARS... we are cosmical...we are GREAT...or better, we SHOULD we great....

That would be my ideal album.... for you who just like brain-numbing, philosophical- challenging analisis in your prog-rock lyrics and concepts, I'll say...

STARDUST WE ARE. Nothing more, nothing less. In the whole picture, in the whole cosmic truth (whatever that may be), we are just dust.... so let's start loving each other a little more....

That sounded too "cheesy"? Well, sorry, I forgot in this day and age, you have to speak of terror, chaos and the utter claws of fate's beast to be considered rational....

I can only answer,


Review by fuxi
4 stars The fact that the Flower Kings' rhythm section sounds just like Yes's (especially their bass player), while Roine Stolt tries to play guitar solos just like Zappa's and Tomas Bodin does what he can to replicate Tony Banks's keyboard solos - none these bother me, on the contrary, I'm glad some musicians have returned to the idiom of classic symphonic prog.

What really annoys me, though, is Stolt's pedestrian lyrics: the man is obviously unashamed of piling cliché upon cliché upon cliché (with a few awkward quotes from Beatles or Jimi Hendrix classics chucked in for good measure) and enunciates every single word as if it's heartfelt gospel truth.

On STARDUST WE ARE, however, virtually all the music is so catchy, and the twenty-five minute epic is so full of wonderful ideas that the band's defects really don't matter. The Flower Kings are notorious for delivering double albums with too much filler. STARDUST WE ARE, I feel, is a triumph. It contains relatively few weak moments, and the title track almost takes you to that same special place Yes found on 'Close to the Edge', and Genesis on 'Supper's Ready'. It's a spectacular achievement - truly ecstatic symphonic prog. Oh, you may need some 'suspension of disbelief'; after all it's hard to feel ecstatic about lyrics like: 'Driving down the Memory Lane / Dusty dreams from a fading sun / Remember how the horses run' (etc.) But the music may just about take you there.

The only thing I don't like about this album is its spectacularly hideous cover.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars After releasing a masterpiece like Retropolis nobody would expect the band to put out a double studio album in such a short time. Nevertheless, here it was, a massive collection of songs, over two hours long. Had the group chose a single CD format, this would rival Retropolis as their best ever release. Don´t get me wrong, Stardust We Are is not a bad album at all. But it seems that Roine Stolt and co had too many good (and sometimes, long) songs to fit even in a 80 minute standard album. So, in the process, they may have recorded everything they had written at the time. Certainly there was no fear of lacking inspiration from their main composerr. One thing that always amazes me after all these years is Stolt´s hability to write so complex, intricated music in such quantity. He must live and breath music all day and night.

Anyway, back to Stardust We Are: there are plenty of great songs in this album. Certainly Roine Stolt was at his prime around the time. Yet the CD is too long and too varied to hold your attention in just one listen, or even maybe two. The presence of some fillers also does not help either, but if you listen carefully you´ll be rewarded with a fantastic pallette of different prog styles and even some experimentation never seen before or even after this release (Compassion is a good exemple). There is something for everyone in this album. So it´s no wonder the group won much of their fame after putting out this CD.

There was some personel.changes too. After guesting on some tracks of The Flower King and Retropolis, singer Hans Frôberg enters the picture as a full time member. While Stolt still handles most of the lead vocals himself, Frôberg´s inclusion was a big plus, since his high pitch, emtional voice brought an excellent contrast to Stolt´s lower register. So, officially, , this is the the first album to feature the ´classic´ Flower King´s line up we all love. Including the apearance of Ulf Wallander on sax on some tracks, as he did on many TFK best works.

I still think this would be a killer CD if they picked up the best tunes and kept to a single album format. Instead this is `only`an excellent work. Essential? Yes! It may take a little time to fully appreciate such a massive amount of music (many spins). But most of what you´ll find here is very worth it. Maybe the group is too talented and flexible for their own (comercial) good. Yet Stardust We Are stands out as a worthy successor for such hard acts to follow as the 3 previous ones (specially Retropolis). Highly recommended to any prog lover. But if you´re new to the group, start with any of the previous, single CD ones.

Review by russellk
5 stars On this extensive double-CD set, the key to sorting out the wheat from the chaff is song length. The longer the song, the better it is. And I will not beat about the bush: the title song is one of the best epics ever written. Not the most original, but certainly the most beautiful.

The attractive thing about this set is how THE FLOWER KINGS gradually introduce the themes that eventually come together in the final track. Such a presaging is very much in the symphonic tradition. I love listening to a record where themes are introduced, varied and reprised; it never fails to please. This is such a record, if you're patient.

Yes, the flaws others have noted are definitely there. With THE FLOWER KINGS one gets a surfeit of music, an overabundance that makes it very difficult to take in the beauty and invention in on first, second or even tenth listen. I agree that the removal of a number of the tracks would make this more accessible, but then it wouldn't be an album from THE FLOWER KINGS. I want to be clear on this: I'm prepared to rate an album a masterpiece even if it has flaws. I'm interested in the best of what this band delivers, and their best is apparent on this album.

Especially on the final track. If you want to hear what symphonic progressive rock sounds like, play this. It is laden with melody, confidently organised in structure and just adventurous enough to demand repeated listenings. From the opening series of notes (repeated with variations twice more in the song) the track makes a statement. The last nine minutes of this song will undoubtedly send a thrill running through you. One after another the album's themes pour at you, making sense of the hours of music you've worked through, bringing it all to a climatic conclusion, then a cathartic close.

What makes this song great is what makes THE FLOWER KINGS an essential listen: guitar mastery, the willingness to play with time signatures, the combination and separation of instruments, judicious vocals, and sheer symphonic beauty. This may not be where your FLOWER KINGS experience should start, but it is certainly where it should end.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This is the first a long serie of TFK double albums. Not all of them will be brilliant. Roine might be a creative person, but there are human limits to this. On top of TFK he has so many side projects running that it is almost impossible to keep such a recording pace and reaching a high quality level throughout all these works.

The opener " In the Eyes of the World" is fully in TFK's style : complex composition, flamboyant keyboards and very strong guitar. Again, the Yes reference is obvious. But this is one of the reason why I love this band so much. ELP might also be associated to their inspiration in here. Still, the catchy rhythm and cristal clear voice from Roine adds this so special TFK mood to it. A great opener.

A very short and intimist instrumental break will lead to "Just This Once". Again, TFK delivers an interesting song : full of vocal melody and strong intrumental parts even jazzy at times. They will be mostly keyboard oriented. The jazzy mood though is a bit too invading to my taste. But globally this song is rather pleasant.

The third long composition "Church Of Your Heart" is one of my fave of this album. All harmony and beautiful music from the very start to the finish. I really love this band when they produce such wonderful and emotional numbers. Vocals are again very sweet. But this is the seal of TFK. Roine's voice is so identifiable...Which such a title, no wonder that the middle instrumental break features a church organ sound. A highlight of this album and one of the greatest TFK song ever.

"Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar" is a short and sweet acoustic track. Very relaxing but not really necessary. Anyway it provides such a feeling of tranquility that I can really not complain about it. "The Man Who Walked With Kings" is another instrumental. Not bad, but not memorable either. But honestly it is not a filler either. Some grandiose guitar part will avoid this.

"Circus Brimstone" is the longest track of this first CD. It starts on a scary mood, somewhat quiet. The intro is definitely KC oriented. It will evolve into a beautiful track, only interrupted at imes by some weird sounds (like when you are looking for a radio station and changing form the one to the other). But these moments are not so many, so I wouldn't blame TFK too much.

After another short break, we are heading the closing number of disc one. The religious mood is again very present here, and the addition of choirs will only confirm this. This song really finishes at 4'45", and then comes back again around 5'15" with some keyboards sounds remininscent of "OnThe Run" from "The Dark Side Of The Moon".

IMO, the track would have gained in interest if it would have been cut where it should have been, meaning after the first break. These last four minutes do not bring anything interesting at all. Anyway, if we except these four minutes, we have experienced a wonderful first CD. Let's hear what CD 2 is all about.

Again, with "Pipes Of Peace", we are transported into the church music; but it only lasts for just over one minute. There will be a total of eight of these short numbers. Not all being necessary. But I have to say that very few sounds boring as well.

The first true song of this second CD is again full of emotion at start. I am really charmed by Roine's voice. I guess either you like it or not. No compromise, I'm afraid. I belong to the former category. I am also found of these great guitar breaks provided here and there throughout their albums in general. I got this feeling the very first time I listened to TFK and this feeling has never left me.

"The Merrygoround" sounds a bit as "Parallels" ("GFTO", Yes) in its initial phase. Strong and rhythmy number for most of the song, it will hold a sweet and melancholic section during its second half. A jewel of peaceful music. The finale is just sublime.

With the Oriental "Don Of The Universe" we are entering into the least interesting part of the album. It is the first filler of this excellent album. Repetitive and dull, I'm afraid. Useless. Like the very short "A Day at the Mall" which is the poorest of these transition tracks.

"Different People" sounds as a world music track. Not really my cup of tea. I have never been really enthusiast with the sitar, so these background sounds do not really have my favour. This number might be part of their concept, but it is tasteless to my ears. I guess, that by this time TFK just got short of inspiration.

The album picks up again a bit with "Kingdom of Lies". The poppy inspiration is not too bad but it won't be a memorable either. Just average. But I guess that some average tracks on a double album is a normal thing. I cannot remember a double studio album being great from start to finish. Even from some originators of the prog music we all love so much.

"If 28" is another short piano-oriented linking track. Not better, nor worse than the majorit of them. These artifacts are often used in concept albums, so again I would not rail at TFK to have done so.

Fortunately, we'll get another good song with "Ghost Of The Red Cloud". This mellow track is a reggae number which is very pleasant to listen to. It is rather unexpected by TFK (but it has nothing to do with a song like "Corners" from IQ for instance which was absolutely dreadful). It is just a pleasant and different number leading to the last short and acoustic piece "Hotel Nirvana". It won't get you there but it stands to introduce the last and the longest number of this album.

The twenty-five minutes "Stardust We Are". TFK will produce several very long songs during their long career (still in progress in 2007). I guess that their inspiration for such long epics is only too obvious to deserve not to be mentioned. It will even include some Tommy oriented fragments ("See Me, Fel Me") ! Just another wink I guess to the mother of all concept albums (IMO). It is not my preferred epic from the band ("The Truth Will Set You Free" is the one I prefer). It holds very pleasant breaks but lacks in passion.

Even if I am an old timer (48 by now, unfortunately), I quite appreciate this album and TFK in general. I would have rated it with the masterpiece status if it would have been downsized to a single CD without any doubt (even a double CD but without the tracks four to eight, which would have shorten the second CD by twenty-two minutes). I think TFK's management should have addressed this point form the very begining of TFK's career. Why did they feel obliged to produce such long albums (single or double ones) ?

This effort holds a lot of interesting nsongs (especially on disc one which is a true jewel IMO). Disc II is just partially short of inspiration. I will rate this very good album with four stars.

It might sounds maybe too much as Yes, and therefore TFK is lacking of personality, but again as this wonderful band does not really create brilliant new stuff nowadays (but they are still touring which is always an enchantment for me to attend their concerts), I am quite satified that TFK is taking on the torch. They deserve your attention and this album might well be a very good introduction to their music. Give TFK a try. Most of you won't regret it, for sure.

Review by progrules
4 stars There are a lot of songs on this release by TFK and I just counted there are 5 out of 20 really worthwhile, the other songs we can more or less forget about. I will do a short comment on the 5 great tracks:

1. In the eyes of the world. This is the stream song on progarchives I got to know first and it convinced me of having to buy this. This is one of the very best songs TFK have ever produced. It's Roine at his very best especially at the end of the song. 5 stars.

2. Church of your heart. This is a very original composition by TFK. As the title of the track already suggests there's a church organ being played on this one and it works really nice along with a great vocal performance. 4,5 stars.

3. The Merry Go Round. This was a track I did not immediately discover as a great one because the first few minutes are not too impressive, just average. Until Roine comes up with probably the best guitar solo on any TFK track ever. This is just about the best a guitar can offer to human ears. Great compliments if you can write melodic music like this. 4,75 stars thanks to the solo.

4. Kingdom of Lies. Another very fine performance thanks to Roine. It's not that I don't appreciate the other bandmembers and in interviews with mainly Roine Stolt I read several times that he tends to be a bit dominant, not as a dictator or something but more that his tremendous guitar playing gets too much attention. Personally I don't mind but of course it isn't too great for the relationship between the bandmembers especially if the others have some ego as well. But I think they deal with it just fine. 4,5 stars for KoL.

5. Stardust we are. It goes without saying that we are talking about one of the great TFK compositions in their history. The magnum opus for many of their fans. Personally I like Garden of dreams and Monsters and men a bit more but this one is magnificent as well. Everything you may expect from a song of this length. 5 stars.

As I said we can more or less forget about the rest though Just this once and Don of the Universe almost reach a 4 star rating. Thanks to the very first and the very last track it easily reaches a 4 star rating overall but I can give no more.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars This was my first foray into double-CD land with the Flower Kings and it's pretty much what I expected. Over 126 minutes of high-quality symphonic progressive rock that runs the gamut from average to absolute brilliance. Could it have been edited down to a single disc and been a gem on par with their exquisite "Space Revolver" that would come a few years later? Perhaps, but why go there? This is prog and one of the most appealing traits of this genre is a total disregard for commercial shackles or limitations so I really don't have a beef with this band's prolific nature. The fact that I can put this on and not have to employ the skip button even once as I enjoy two hours of uplifting music is testimony enough to recommend this set. I can also assure you that the embarrassingly garish cover art in no way, shape or form represents the integrity of the contents. (Come on, fellas, did you owe a favor to the local mafia godfather or something? Gee whiz!)

Opening with "In the Eyes of the World," a rolling rocker containing a Deep Purple/ELO attitude, they draw you right into their unique realm. The big Hammond organ presence on this song is a definite plus, Roine Stolt's guitar is on fire throughout and the overall depth of sound is what I crave to hear. Lyrically I've started to realize that English most likely isn't their native language and I think much of what they're singing is getting lost in translation but overall they still make more sense than say, Jon Anderson of Yes. The tune makes for a smokin' beginning but it's not as auspicious as on some of their other CDs.

They intersperse various short instrumental pieces along the way and "A Room with a View" is a lovely keyboard air from the highly talented Tomas Bodin. "Just This Once" starts with some alarming noises but soon settles into a powerful groove and goes on to make the most of a very dynamic, aggressive progression where Stolt's jazz influences are showcased. The first sign of the extraordinary comes in the form of "Church of your Heart," a slower-paced but power-packed ballad that shows their ability to perform a well-written song with class. They never shy away from grandeur and when the cavernous cathedral pipe organ makes its entrance the hairs on the back of my neck bristle. The vocals are superb and the no-holds-barred ending defines symphonic prog. I love this kind of stuff!

The sounds of a storm serve as the intro for the beautiful acoustic guitar composition "Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar" as it marks the onset of four consecutive instrumentals. The blustery aura continues as they segue into "The Man Who Walked with Kings" where the rest of the group joins in. The group's uncanny ability to create memorable melodies is apparent here as they introduce a madrigal spirit to lift the mood. But the headliner here is the thrilling "Circus Brimstone" that starts out with a spooky calliope and evolves into a King Crimson-ish, Mellotron-led carnival of notes, slowly building in intensity while demonstrating their admirable skill at arranging intricate musical themes into a cohesive whole. Following a peaceful duet of guitar and Mellotron things get wicked with some odd backwards utterances, then they jump into a funky segment that reminds me (in a good way) of the cool riff from "The Munsters." Another towering melody line brings the track to a close as another short bit with accordion and synthesizer entitled "Crying Clown" serves as a bookend to this instrumental jag. The darker "Compassion" finishes the disc and it's a highlight not to be overlooked. A strained, distorted voice is joined by monk-like chants and Roine injects a passionate guitar solo that will tear your head off. This dude can flat-out play with the best of them. (If you linger about a minute after the end a synth freak-out happens but it has little significance.)

A heavenly, room-filling pipe organ track called "Pipes of Peace" initiates the second CD and Bodin previews things to come with variations on the "Stardust We Are" theme during this wonderfully indulgent piece. (Move over, Wakeman, Tomas is gettin' busy in the sanctuary!) "The End of Innocence" has a promising onset but it soon drops into a heavy blues-rock stride, losing some momentum but on an album of this length a lull was inevitable. The uninteresting vocal and structure of the song becomes laborious after a few minutes and, despite Bodin's gallant attempts to liven things up on the baby grand, it marks the nadir of the journey. But don't be discouraged because "The Merry- Go-Round" is next and its thrilling, Zappa-inspired start, furious three part harmonies and lively Irish jig-sounding airs get the show back on track in a hurry. Salazar grabs a few admirable moments in the spotlight before the band brings the tempo down for a dramatic change of pace that teeters briefly on the brink of schmaltz but ultimately leads to a fierce guitar ride and a gargantuan closing.

"Don of the Universe" is the best instrumental I've heard from this band. Curious percussion spasms leads the listener to lush, deep acoustic 12-string guitars that envelope your senses and whisk you blissfully away from the trials of the world. The uncomplicated design of the song allows it to float like a cloud over a land where sitars, tablas and soprano saxophones are not considered out of place. The short "A Day at the Mall" with its wild Rhodes piano noodlings and bustling shoppers rouses you from your serenity and transports you to "Different People," a folksy pop tune that has Beatle-ish overtones and then onward to "Kingdom of Lies" that pun-fully begins with the buzzing of flies before turning into an energetic, arena-rock zinger where everyone turns in a hearty effort but the song sorta leaves me mystified as to its intent. "If 28" follows and it's another pristine piano piece from Bodin to be savored. "Ghost of the Red Cloud" is a decent number but I have to admit that I'm one of those people who have no affinity or interest in the reggae beat that this tune is built upon. So sue me.

"Hotel Nirvana" is acoustic guitar played over a deep synthesizer drone, setting the table perfectly for the magnificence that is the album's namesake and marquee song. I rank this epic right up there with those from both Genesis and Yes and I don't say that lightly, being a dedicated fan of both groups. After a sumptuous curtain-raiser, Stolt's Steve Howe-ish licks launch you on a marvelous 25-minute trip through progdom that doesn't let go for a second. The singing from Roine and cohort Hans Froberg is spectacular, the middle instrumental section is staggeringly awe-inspiring and, once they arrive at the central "Stardust We Are" theme, they approach pure sublimity. At about the 15 minute mark Tomas' adroit multiple keyboard work provides a rapturous bridge to the opulent chorus and climactic finale. If you think I'm wandering into overstatement territory I'm here to tell you unequivocally that it just doesn't get much better than this. Wow!

In the final analysis this bountiful collection of 20 tunes is far above mediocre and, in several instances, scales the lofty heights of Mount Prog and plants the Flower Kings' flag at the very peak. I'm so pleased that I discovered this band and can only invite other fans of symphonic progressive rock to delve into their artistic endeavors without hesitation. These guys are the real deal and, when it comes to this album, the title song is well worth the purchase price alone. 4.2 stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Subject to mood swings

"Stardust we are" is a sprawling 2 CD collection from the Flower Kings; you really can't complain about getting value for money in terms of output from them. Where there might be a question mark however is in terms of quality control.

The Flower Kings tend to suffer from the same malaise as their neo-prog colleagues Spock's Beard. While they make what is unquestionably prog rock in one of its purest forms, their music is often cold and lacking in emotion. They seems to believe that in order to make a long, progressive piece, all you have to do is take a number of unconnected themes and ideas, and join them together in a piecemeal fashion. While I am not suggesting that no thought is put into how well those themes fit together, it does seem to me at times as if the objective has been to make the time and mood changes as awkward sounding as possible.

From time to time, things will fall into place perfectly, and the result will be a track which flows seamlessly, while featuring strong melodies which sit easily together. All too often though, the results are frustrating.

So it is with the band's third album (not counting Roine Stolt's solo album bearing the band name) "Stardust we are". The album features 20 tracks in total, ranging from a pair of less than one minute pieces ("Crying clown", "A day at the mall") to the sprawling 25 minute title track in three parts.

The opening "In the eyes of the world" is one of the more successful tracks. Running to some 10½ minutes, the track on the one hand borders on jazz territory, while on the other explores full on symphonic prog. "Just this once" on the other hand is an example of decent, if unremarkable themes which simply do not (in my opinion) sit well together. The track jumps about between Yes like staccato, smooth jazz, and highly melodic lead guitar without ever finding a firm identity.

"The man who walked with kings" has all the feel of a Steve Hackett number, the haunting lead guitar and deep bass tones making for a decidedly tasteful, and thankfully relatively straight forward instrumental number. This is one of four consecutive instrumentals, the longest of which, "Circus Brimstone" runs to over 12 minutes. That track has a King Crimson feel to it, from around the time of that band's "Red".

The second disc is by and large the inferior of the two, the songs being generally less distinguished. This is of course with the notable exception of the aforementioned title track which at 25 minutes dwarfs everything else here. The track certainly justifies its prominence, apparently having been written as a complete piece, rather than put together piecemeal.

Perhaps ironically (given my comments), the album as whole flows rather well, successive short and long track counter-pointing well together.

I am aware that my review perhaps dwells a little too much on the criticisms I have of the Flower Kings. I can only justify this through the frustration they cause me. They clearly have the potential to come up with something truly magical, and at times they come close to achieving that. Unfortunately, for me this album represents their career generally; a case of so near yet so far away.

Review by Roj
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This was my introduction to The Flower Kings, and what a fantastic way to start. This is a simply stunning album. It is as melodic an album as I have heard from the band, although that is not to say there is no complexity. I found the album very easy to get into, and loved it from the first spin.

Some people accuse the band of sounding like Yes, KC or Genesis. I just do not agree. Whilst they have their influences, TFK have their own sound that to me is instantly recognisable. For me, they are the finest modern progressive rock band.

As this is a lengthy double disc effort, I will simply pick out some highlights. Disc 1 is brilliant throughout, and opens with the barnstorming In The Eyes of The World, which is typical Flower Kings, melodic, dramatic and very symphonic. The instrumental section in Just This Once is outstanding. The orchestral splendour of Church of Your Heart always moves me, as does the dark and edgy Circus Brimstone; the musicianship throughout is top notch. Disc 1 closes with the haunting and beautiful Compassion.

Disc 2 is less consistent, but the best tracks are spellbinding. The short Pipes of Peace is a lovely intro. The Merrygoround is my favourite short track by the band. Stolt's guitar solo at the end is incredible. After 2 or 3 not so good songs, we have the piece de resistance, the title track. This is a s good as any epic I've heard by ANY band, and I include Close To The Edge, Dogs, Suppers Ready et al. This epic is simply magnificent, with the most beautiful melodies, gorgeous themes and dramatic instrumental and vocal passages. This piece provides all I could ever want from 25 minutes of music.

If you are a Flower Kings fan that does not own this album, you must get it. You will love it. I certainly do, it is probably their best album.

For me, this is easily a 5-star album. No symphonic prog collection is complete without it

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars It's almost TOO easy for a progster to get into this. Think about it; what other band could mine the best qualities of prog rock and win over many hearts? We have Gilmour's voice, Latimer's solos, Emerson's tricky keyboard lines, Squire's bass sound, odd time signature, mellotrons, Hammond, twenty-minute epics, etc. So, how come I don't get it?

The Flower Kings are a technical listening band in the sense that you've really got to sit down and pay strict attention to all of the musical changes in order to get it. The compositions are complex, but are so clogged with theme after theme that it's really hard for me to follow along. I prefer the occasional laidback jam type of thing, but STARDUST WE ARE really doesn't give me that. Plus, there are just too many filler tracks that don't add anything to the album from the unusual under-two-minute ditties to the awful poppy songs like ''Kingdom of Lies''.

Restraint is not here at all. Many songs simply go far too long and seem to be extended merely to look very prog. The fiddling at the end of ''Compassion'' is unnecessary; ''In the Eyes of the World'', ''Just This Once'' and the title epic run out of ideas about two to six minutes before they're over and make me impatient when I listen to the tracks as a whole. And I was never moved by either ''End of Innocence'' or ''Church of Your Heart''.

The lyrics are so corny that they're laughable. It doesn't help that both vocalists overdramatise the words to the point of utter annoyance. Stolt's vocals aren't that great, but when a comfortable range he's okay. Froberg has more power but unfortunately can sound like Steve Perry (Journey) at times. Which is why I prefer parts of ''Circus Brimstone'' (slightly too long) and ''Don of the Universe''.

I enjoy the weirder, harder-to-understand stuff in the prog rock world, and I really think this album is too much of what to expect in prog rock. There aren't any surprise or challenges other than sitting through BOTH discs in one sitting. If you want to keep your prog experience fresh, head for the RIO and Cantebury bands. If you want the same prog rock over and over again, this is more than satisfactory.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Oh goody I'm about to review another Flower Kings album! Ah yes, Stardust We Are, one of my personal favorites! Okay first before I review anything listen to Church of Your Heart first it's a prog rock ballad from heaven! Roine Stolts guitar soars through this album like an eagle all through it eventually landing on the centerpiece, Stardust We Are. The title track a masterpiece of prog the rest of the album is almost as good. The Man Who Walked With Kings is a very nice piece along with Compassion. The End of Innocence contains in my opinion the best vocals on the album. Although it's just a little acoustic guitar piece Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar is very soothing to me. Roine gives us some very good music once again! However, some of the pieces of music almost mimic other albums they've done which I don't like bands doing. Remember Church of Your Heart and Stardust We Are are the ones to listen to.
Review by Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Stardust We Are" is easily a four star album and worthy of consideration of a full five stars, but not quite. While containing some of The Flower King's, arguably, most memorable tracks the length of the total package actually detracts enough to knock it down to only four stars.

"Stardust We Are", the song, is kind of a mini version of the album itself in that it's at first great, then at some point you're thinking to yourself that "I'm going to keep listening to it just to get through it". It's an amazing song, wonderful in all aspects, by twenty minutes into the song, it's accomplished it's task, it's peaked it was an amazing experience. Then it keeps going . . . and going . . . the harpsichord Baroque thing and everything after that is really just trying to make sure there is no empty space on the CD.

In an analogous theme, the album peaks at about The Merrygoround, everything from there on to Stardust is more of a struggle to get through. Don't get me wrong, the songs themselves are all great, it's just more of the same. This album would have been a five star album if it had about 30 minutes less music on it.

With all of that being said, my personal highlights include "Stardust We Are", "In the Eyes of the World", and "Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar". In addition, "Just This Once" is probably my favorite song on the album, though only after removing the first thirty seconds or so, thus eliminating the grating siren bit that ruins an otherwise wonderful song.

Lowlights include the first thirty seconds of "Just This Once", the last five minutes of "Stardust We Are" and the last four minutes of "Compassion".

In summary, it's a great album though difficult to listen to in one sitting.

Review by lazland
4 stars Some time ago, I saw a post on the forum by Epignosis asking us to compare the relative merits of two equally rated Flower Kings albums, Adam & Eve and Stardust We Are. I had had the former for some time, but this was my only TFK album, so I asked was it worth getting the other? The answer was a resounding YES, so I went ahead.

This, in turn, led me to buy the complete TFK back catalogue, so it's fair to say I was impressed.

This is a long and sometimes difficult album to sit through in one go, and I tend to agree with a lot of previous reviewers that maybe it might have been better to have had just one CD of exceptional quality songs, rather than padding out the work into two CDs. Having said that, there is plenty to enjoy here, and I ardently feel that newcomers to this band would be better listening to this album before venturing into other works.

The whole album has an unashamedly retro feel to it, most markedly in the ELP inspired opener, In The Eyes of The World, to the glorious Yes symphonic inspired Church of your Heart, which, to me, is the outstanding highlight of the album, a glorious track which soars, uplifts, and is absolutely and rightly unapologetic about its roots. Other nods to glories past include Circus Brimstone, a marathon 12 minutes homage to King Crimson from the classic Wetton, Fripp, and Bruford era. It's not as dark as that band though, there being some beautifully uplifting passages, thus avoiding falling into the trap that KC sometimes fell into, that of being overly complex and brooding at the same time (I state this as a massive fan of the band).

Even that track, though, is a mere stroll in the park as compared to the title track, the last on CD2, which weighs in at a massive 25 minutes. Having said that, it never feels overlong, and the band are genuinely awe inspiring when they reach the central theme of the song. This is a towering paeon to symphonic prog rock in all of its glory, and exemplifies to me just why TFK are regarded as being at the forefront of the 3rd wave of prog in the aftermath of the UK dominated neo (2nd wave) era of the early 80's.

At turns derivative, at others wholly original, never anything less than demanding, when it hits the high points, it makes for an extremely satisfying and rewarding listening experience.

It is difficult to rate this album, and I think, by and large, the average of 4 stars given to it by previous PA reviewers is about right. Excellent in its own right, but, in my opinion, essential as a way of getting into this most incredible set of musicians.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I sometimes wonder, why no TFK album gets over 4 rating threshold. Maybe it's something in this music that I so much love, but a lot of people see as mediocre, or as "good" at best. Well, I think that it's the length of Flower's music. A lot of interesting moments and some killer tracks, but everything gets buried under sheer 126 minutes. The best tracks, catchy and bombastic (I like this kind of thrilling [sadly, it's cheesy for some] tracks, when done properly, it won't slide into embarrassing mode) are Church of Your Heart, instant hook-on, In the Eyes of the World and few others, but it's not what this album is about. Its length prevents easy remembering of each track (as with 40-minutes long releases), so this is intended for not so thorough listening perhaps ? Because it's not consistent album at all. TFK always loved big compositions and this time, they really "overclocked" it, as for many people, variability, filler passages and so on will be tough. As seen from ratings. Can we blame them ? Of course not, it's understandable. I myself feel tempted. You probably would get strong 50 minute long CD from material here, but as it is given, there are problems with finding it.

4(-) is fair rating I suppose. From people rating in left column, only russellk gave it 5 stars. Brave and bold move for sure, I would like to give more as well (and from my reviews, you can see that I gave 5-stars in past to albums where flaws were present), but the main problem I have with this is its size. Flatting it would make it not just accessible, but more importantly also more interesting to people looking to music, not music with long minutes of silence in it. I'm not offending TFK's music, as I'm enjoying most of their albums, but this is constant problem. And the reason why a lot of people here rate so low. Including me.

700th review, let's stop for a while, shall we ?

Review by colorofmoney91
1 stars I'm not really a fan of the modern-retro symphonic progressive rock movement, but bands utilizing that sounds appear to be popular debate on this site. I was originally pointed to the Flower Kings by my guitar instructor, who is a big fan of Yes and Genesis, and this sounds like a 21st century update to that sound. In my opinion, the sound doesn't really work that well. First of all, Stolt's voice is not unlike those modern electric blues guitarists like Joe Bonamassa. It's rough and startling, and I really don't enjoy it.

The music is here is exceptionally cheesy with synthetic symphonic glory that isn't quite earned. If Yes or Genesis decided to record an album now with all of the random effects available to them in the studio, this is what it would sound like, plus a few more rock-oriented touches. It's not very appealing to say the least, but a lot of people tend to enjoy this album, which is also unbearably long and jam packed with filler material. If that is your kind of thing, then I guess I suggest it. Enjoy.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ''Retropolis'' seemed to be a key album in The Flower Kings' discography, opening the gates of fame for the markets in Japan, South America, and North America.From this point on the band would be marked as a very prolific team, crowned as the king of double albums, starting from ''Stardust we are''.This work was recorded between December 96' and April 97' at the band's Foxtrot Mobile Recorders in Uppsala.They would again collaborate with ex-Nya Ljudbolaget Ulf Wallander on sax, while they also received help from Ensemble Nimbus' leader Håkan Almkvist on sitar and tabla.''Stardust we are'' was originally released on Foxtrot Records, but it was also distributed in Japan via Belle Antique.

''Stardust we are'' is a classic Flower Kings offering, stylistically grounded in the music of YES, GENESIS and KING CRIMSON with balanced use of vintage and modern keyboards and combining short, more accesible songs with longer, cinematic pieces full of demanding orchestrations, quirky executions and bombastic interplays.The album's length gives the chance to the band to explore some new music territories, especially during the second CD.As a result it contains some new-insterted ambiental soundscapes and Ethnic influences in a few pieces, not much suited to a work full of dense and grandiose musicianship, but again these cuts show The Flower Kings' extreme diversity and Roine Stolt's unique talent as a composer.Over 100 out of the 130 minutes of the contained music though will never escape from the principles and values of Classic 70's Prog.The music is absolutely great and often astonishing with jazzy and bluesy blips among an otherwise very symphonic-oriented material.Bodin's Mellotron and Hammond organ dominate the pieces with dark atmospheres and powerful passages, Stolt's guitar is flawless and flexible and the appropriate modern vibes will come through the massive synth soloing.The ability of the band to slip through so many different moods with comfort and consistency is absolutely scary, especially if considering the fact that their first few albums were released in a very short time.Classic Prog fans will love this work's epics.No less than 9 tracks are over 7 minutes long with symphonic and jazzy inspirations, highlighted by another monumental composition by the Swedish masters, the 25-min. title-track, a tour-de-force of melodic soundscapes, complex Progressive Rock and Classical-inspired preludes.

130 minutes of music are maybe too much to result an album with no dead holes.But at least half of ''Stardust we are'' is certainly incredible, well-crafted and elaborate Progressive Rock with apparent 70's hints.Highly recommended.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Swedish symphonic/eclectic rock Neo Proggers begin their tradition of publishing far more music than one person can possibly ingest in one sitting (or even two!) covering so many styles that it becomes far too overwhelming to enjoy as a whole. The listener has to pick and choose one's song from the enormous variety offered instead of sitting down for an enjoyable 45 minute listen.

CD 1 (54:34) 1. "In The Eyes Of The World" (10:38) don't like this rhythm track style at all. (16.75/20)

2. "A Room With A View" (1:26) gentle keyboard interlude. (4.25/5)

3. "Just This Once" (7:53) a more tolerable sometimes even enjoyable style and construct. (13/15)

4. "Church Of Your Heart" (9:10) nice soundscape to open with but then the vocal/lyrics push me away. (Maybe it's just Roine Stolt's voice that drives me away.) Cute homage to Rick Wakemen ("Awaken") with the use of the solo pipe organ. Nice melodies, nice "gospel"-like finish. (17.5/20)

5. "Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar" (2:43) rainstorm with two electrified acoustic guitars. Roine is no Will Ackerman or Chet Atkins. (4.25/5)

6. "The Man Who Walked With Kings" (4:59) organ arpeggi with acoustic guitar open this song in a very classical Xmas carol feeling. A nice song, actually--even when it goes rock 'n' roll. Great lead guitar work from Roine. (9.5/10)

7. "Circus Brimstone" (12:03) another example of the fact that listening to a RFK album is like channel surfing on Cable TV. I, for one, like a little more consistency in sound, style, or instrumentation (not necessarily all three) from an album. The first 2:30 are completely into horror film soundtrack à la GOBLIN, and then we get more rock-oriented like or even UNIVERS ZERO (a little). I like the little child-friendly passage in the sixth minute, but then things ramp back up. The third fourth gets a little angular but then we return to the rock (YES) orientation and more for teh final quarter. (22.5/25)

8. "Crying Clown" (0:57) truly a circus theme. Closes out the "Brimstone" song nicely. 9. "Compassion" (Actual song length is 4:45; hidden instrumental track follows) (8:40) - first song: weird effects (8.5/10)

- Second song is pure experimental electronica--like the beginning of Todd Rundgren's "Utopia Theme" gone rogue. (8.25/10)

CD 2 (71:41) 10. "Pipes Of Peace" (1:19) pipe organ solo. Kind of a prelude to the next song. (4.25/5) 11. "The End Of Innocence" (8:28) nice enough music led astray by the band's choice to focus on Roine's anæmic singing and lyrics. Also, the pace, while comforting at first for its ability to allow much to happen in its spaciousness, becomes tedious over its eight minute length. (Would that it's intriguing final 30 seconds had lead to something new and different.) (17/20)

12. "The Merrygoround" (8:17) trying to be YES. Too bad for the ridiculous lyrics. (17/20)

13. "Don Of The Universe" (7:02) timbales! chimes! Anthony Phillips-like acoustic 12-string guitar! sitar! Great beat and rich guitar chord progression. Almost an Ozrics sound--just a bit too slow. Great bass and saxophone. Instrumentals are where this band excel! (14.5/15)

14. "A Day At The Mall" (0:45) electronic piano from the county fair.

15. "Different People" (6:19) built around a laid back acoustic strum, it's a nice start but then why do they let this guy sing? Nice guitar solo in the middle. (8/10)

16. "Kingdom Of Lies" (5:48) I've noticed through the years that Roine and company have a little bit of an obsession with musical themes generally associated with the circus or carnival. Here, using an alternate vocalist gives the music a totally different (albeit 1980s hair band) feel. The music, once it's established, is a rather straightforward classic rock form with horse-trot bass and pacing, but it's solid, well-performed. (8.5/10)

17. "If 28" (2:15) solo piano notes played in a large, empty space. Great acoustic effect to this very pretty piece. (5/5)

18. "Ghost Of The Red Cloud" (4:37) mysteriously inviting instrumental choices are taken into another circus theme direction before taking on a kind of Rasta/Reggae rhythm flow. The slightly more impassioned vocal by Roine Stolt reminds me of Bruce Cockburn. As a matter of fact, the whole song does. (8.5/10)

19. "Hotel Nirvana" (1:49) moody synth note and small "strings" chords prep the listener for the arrival of some dramatic acoustic guitar play (two channels). Like something out of the soundtrack to a Spaghetti Western. (5/5)

20. "Stardust We Are" (25:02) one of the places TFK excells in the creation and performance of its long-playing epics. (45.5/50) = 9.1

Total Time: 126:15

My other problem with a lot of TFK music is the lack of connect to the lyrics: the words/messages are just too hoky--they work too damn hard for some kind of profundity.

B/four stars (Disc One a low four stars; Disc Two 4.5 stars--a near-masterpiece); a collection of varied symphonic prog rock music that would be an nice addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars Since the official Flower Kings debut in 1995 and up until 2002, Roine Stolt's band remained one of the most prolific with 7 releases during those eight years, and three of those albums were double discs. The first of these double albums came out in 1997, the band's third release entitled "Stardust We Are". The first two albums celebrated a return to making more adventurous music in the style of the classic days of progressive rock, namely what we now refer to as symphonic prog. The band exhibited a penchant for songs with a pop-like melody but with longer instrumental parts and frequent changes in the music. As well, there were occasionally some more experimental inclusions.

"Stardust We Are" continued this trend (as did ever album since then it seems) but as the first double disc, it seems the band were interested in experimenting more. Or rather, because they experimented more, they had enough additional material to merit a second disc. As such, many of the tracks here feature the Flower Kings' typical extended pop rock style with the extra instrumental parts and multi-part musical compositions and of course a 25- minute epic in the title track. There are also some of the more, shall we say exploratory tracks and in addition some instrumental tracks.

A lot of people have concluded that the amount of material offered here is a little too much and that a single great album could have been released had the less-impressive tracks been omitted. As for me, this album is one of five Flower Kings albums that I own and this one remained the least memorable for quite some time. I could easily think of finding enjoyable tracks on the other four albums, but this one always left me feeling like the band just threw everything in, including the studio sink. Recently though, my opinion has softened somewhat. After seeing an interview with Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt, I felt like listening to my Flower Kings album again and this one became the third of those to be cued up for play. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it more than previously, particularly the title track, which I considered rather cumbersome and tedious the first time. Now I have listened to it three more times recently and I have been able to identify the various parts and which I enjoy the most.

As for the rest of the album, there are some tracks like "Ghost of the Red Cloud", "Church of Your Heart" and "The Man Who Walked with Kings" combine the melodic and memorable side of the Flower Kings' music with their progressive side and are easily favourites, while "The End of Innocence", "The Merrygoround", and "Different People" also have their great moments. Some of the other songs like "In the Eyes of the World" and "Just This Once" tend to pass through my ears without having many moments to snag my attention and make me check what track is playing, except for that "Just This Once" has a rather alarming beginning that could be annoying if you're not ready to hear that way of playing music.

Then there are these short instrumentals which, I wouldn't want to say filler but, were for me initially a bit puzzling as to why they had to be included. "Pipes of Peace" is a short pipe organ solo; "Crying Clown" is a kind of bizarre flute-like organ piece; "A Day at the Mall" is just people's voices in a mall-like place with some random keyboard noodling; and "Hotel Nirvana" sounds like an acoustic guitar intro for some epic track, though it is rather pretty, along with "Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar". Until very recently I thought that these were unnecessary; however, a reviewer called these "transitional tracks" and somehow that made much more sense. Perhaps it is exactly because the album has so many longer and typical Flower Kings tracks that these shorter bits were added to break things up a bit. Thinking about it that way the album comes together better.

"Compassion" is, of all the tracks, perhaps the most disappointing. It's not because the music is actually so bad even though it sounds less like any of the other more typical Flower King songs. It's because halfway through the music just stops and there's about 30 seconds of nothing before some completely unrelated synthesizer atmospheric composition takes over. I guess there was a purpose but I'm not into these extended blank sections of tracks that sometimes appear on albums.

I think the challenging point about this album is that it is long without deviating so much from the standard Flower Kings approach while at the same time, the most different stuff comes in the form of these short instrumentals that at first may seem puzzling and some tracks which are less interesting than others. The best of the different tracks in my opinion is "Don of the Universe" which is a very pleasing and meditative piece in Indian style with Indian percussion and a sitar. The bass line is simple but memorable and I noticed that it cropped up again in part of the title track in which "Don of the Universe" without the Indian instruments makes a reprisal much to my delight.

Some people may understand and appreciate this album right away. For others (like me) it may take a few listens or even reading other reviews for this album to make sense. What at first seems like a dumping ground for everything the band recorded, even the outtakes, can actually begin to seem like more than that. Perhaps Roine and the gang decided to surprise us with this third album. Or challenge us. Or perhaps they were enjoying what they were doing so much that they wanted to share it all. I will say that a single disc of selected tracks would have made a five-star album easily, But now I think I like this album more for the double disc it is.

Review by Kempokid
2 stars I recently realised a likelihood for the enjoyment of the general sound of The Flower Kings and why they stood out to me above certain other retro prog bands, the reason being twofold. The most clear reason is still the fact that so many of their extended instrumental sections just go and take you on an absolute journey, being able to paint such vivid images throughout, providing a much needed, yet often forgotten aspect of songwriting, making all sections of the music engaging, rather than just bankimg on the good parts. The second reason is a far more personal one, the extremely positive, happy melodies reminding me of the pantomimes I used to be taken to as a kid, resulting in some kind of connection that I only recently realised. That said, I find Stardust We Are to be lacking in a lot of areas that made me appreciate the first 2 Flower Kings albums. The most prevalent issue is the lack of restraint displayed here, the album length being a challenge even when considering some of my favourite albums, such as Swans' To Be Kind, let alone what essentially feels like 2 hours of relatively safe prog rock. There is a real lack of variety to be found here, the cheesy qualities innately part of the genre being made an aspect of everything here, extremely dramatic sections that devolve into wild soloing, without any of the excellent writing that backed up past albums, not to mention an overbearing amount of ballads. While less of an issue, I also find the sequencing to be problematic as well, the back half loaded with far too many of the more commercial tracks with the far more proggy elements finding themselves on loaded up at the front, further contributing to this album being an extremely difficult one for me to be able to sit through, despite having certain moments which are downright incredible.

The album starts off with both an extremely strong, yet problematic song, as In The Eyes Of The World is my choice for greatest song on the album by a landslide, having an incredible energy to it and just having a lot more rock focus compared to everything else here, and while starting an album off with your best song is always something I find ill advised, as it means that there's going to be no greater point on the album than this very first piece, it's an especially egregious issue when the album goes for over 2 hours. Another part of the album that I find pretty interesting is the abundance of circus/carnival imagery throughout, all the way down to song titles, unfortunately rarely translating into the actual music. Most of the rest of side one is composed of a few slow paced songs that go on for far too long, sometimes having great elements to them, other times, such as with Just This Once, everything feels wasted. The excess and issue with sequencing is really highlighted in the stretch of music from Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar to Circus Brimston though, all of these songs being entirely intrumental and essentially sounding like one extended solo. The one positive from this is that if you ignore the first 2 tracks and just focus on Circus Brimstone, then you've got something great, as the demented, off kilter rhythms and riffs used here are absolutely exquisite and once again bring in the more engaging side of the band. The more excessive side to this album is most clearly demonstrated in side 1's closing track, Compassion, starting of as a passionate, breathtaking song that then halfway through, completely fades out before coming back in sounding quite different, and once again, more soloing.

After the fairly mediocre first side, I was pleasantly surprised by the second side, starting off with a stunningly majestic interlude before the main portion of it started. This is far more commercial than the first side, with songs like Different People being reminiscient of SIlent Sorrow and My Cosmic Lover, although leaning more towards the sappy, painfully cheesy My Cosmic Lover. The lack of distinct change in tone throughout the album surely contributes immensely to the tedium of a lot of this album, all the songs being extremely whimsical in nature, making everything sound like one gigantic fantasy world, except with considerably less of the wonder that made Back In The World Of Adventures engaging despite its flaws. What's more is that by having more than one or two tracks of this nature simply to give a break before the more proggy songs, this in itself manages to become even more tiring than if they just decided to make a full 2 hours of nothing but insane instrumental work. This side is somewhat salvaged by the final, 25 minute epic however, as it manages to evoke the same kind of mystical qualities of the previous material here, but is actually able to move throughout what feels like an entire world constructed without simply devolving into pointlessness. This title track basically has all the main elements that a prog fan could ask for, long, sweeping passages of music, a decent progression throughout complete with an impressive display of technicality, a while lot of passion, but even this song isn't free of problems, as it feels almost too safe for its own good, utilising all the features of beloved prog epics without really doing anything too interesting with it, but it's definitely still a highly enjoyable song despite it being quite middle of the road in terms of ideas.

On the whole, I feel that at the very least, if this were half the length and only contained the good material here, that this would be an all around solid, albeit safe prog rock album. As it stands, this is the weakest of the 3 Flower Kings albums I've listened to so far for the excessive nature of it reaching painful levels throughout, it's always going to be a challenge for a 2 hour album to remain interesting, much less of symphonic prog of this variety, where even the beloved double albums of the genre such as The Lamb Dies Down On Broadway and Tales Of Topographic Oceans can test my patience. This album was fairly disappointing even despite my initial concerns with it, but I still can't deny that it contains a handful of absolutely standout moments that save the album from being outright bad, although just barely.

Best songs: In The Eyes of the World, Circus Brimstone, Stardust We Are

Weakest songs: Just This Once, The Man Who Walked With Kings, Different People

Verdict: Excessive to a fault, embodying all of the worst traits of prog rock within one album. The only thing that saves it is that a bit over 40 minutes of this is exceptional music, which would be a far bigger compliment if not for the fact that this is over 2 hours long.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Had the Flower Kings exercised a touch more restraint and trimmed this back to a single album, this might have been their first five-star album, since for a good stretch of Stardust We Are the Kings have well and truly hit their stride, presenting a prog style steeped in a range of 1970s influences but not quite fully sounding like any one of them. They'd always taken in influences ranging from Zappa to Yes, but they hadn't previously felt as well-balanced as they do here.

However, the album doesn't get that fifth star simply because the Flower Kings went a touch too self-indulgent, not exercising enough editorial rigour to fully sort the wheat from the chaff. Cranking all the prog dials to 11 and being more excessive than anyone else is part of the game plan here, I suppose, but even so I think stretching this to a double album was somewhat to its detriment.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars This is the big deal now! The first double album by The Flower Kings came to life in April of 1997, and has since remained an iconic release for the genre and especially for the late 90s period of the retro prog revival; Not to mention that 'Stardust We Are' is often cited as the band's best work and it is not too hard to see why, as this 130-minute album is packed with awesome compositions that pretty much top the band's work up to that point.

As with the band's first two releases, 'Stardust' was also released on Foxtrot Records and was produced by Roine Stolt himself, who is playing all guitars, sings, and handles some of the keyboards on the album. Alongside him we see Tomas Bodin on keyboards, Michael Stolt on bass, Hasse Fröberg on vocals (this time as a proper band member), Jaime Salazar on drums and Ulf Wallander contributing once again some saxophone bits and Hasse Bruniusson playing some percussion as well as Håkan Almkvist who plays sitar and table on a couple of songs. With this mighty ensemble of very talented and inspired musicians, it should come as no surprise that the music they have created is quite fantastic, very memorable and perpetually impressive.

The 10-minute extravaganza 'In the Eyes of the World' opens up the double album, a song that bombards the listener with quirky sounds and an upbeat tempo that gradually reaches the middle part guitar crescendo, one of the best things you will ever hear on a Flower Kings album. Tomas Bodin is quite impressive, so is Roine Stolt and drummer Jaime Salazar. Then we have a small instrumental piece written by Bodin; the album sees several of these splitting the longer songs. 'Just This Once' is a very 70s Genesis-sounding piece, where the band display their mellower side. 'Church of Your Heart' sees Hasse Fröberg doing some majestic vocals. However, this is hardly one of the album's highlights as it falls into the cornier category of prog songs. The next four tracks are all instrumental, the most impressive of which is the 12-minute 'Circus Brimstone', a composition on which the band really go all in, each member explores the full capabilities of his instrument and the end result is quite impressive. Finally, disc one concludes with 'Compassion', another mini-epic that sets the tone for the next disc.

Side two, if compared track-by-track and as a whole, as a listening experience, is certainly weaker than side one. The songs might seem a bit harder to digest, the listener might be tired after the first hour of music on disc one, and yet, it is still full of interesting sounds, beautiful vocal harmonies, and grandiose instrumental work, with Roine Stolt doing some magical things on his guitar. 'The End of Innocence', 'The Merrygoround', 'Don of the Universe', 'Kingdom of Lies', 'If 28' are all very good songs that can be found here, but none of them can compete with the final song on the album - the 25-minute title track, a prog epic that is certainly on par with things like 'Supper's Ready' or 'Thick as a Brick' (Yes, I said that). The band are at the very top of their creativity and writing on this mighty composition that has deservedly remained a staple of theirs.

'Stardust We Are' is a great album that encapsulates quite accurately what The Flower Kings are all about. This makes it not only an excellent addition to any prog lover's collection but also a very good introduction to anyone who might dare to investigate this colorful band's majestic world!

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars After hearing Unfold the Future, I sort of had an itch to listen to more material from The Flower Kings. I really digged the music on the previous album I reviewed of them, and I really wanted to check more of them out. Their symphonic sound and their beautiful vocal performances always got to me, so I just started to have an itch for the band. I wanted to hear the band more and more, and I wanted to love every bit of them. So I figured, if I went all out on one of their more longer albums, why not do the same on another long piece they have created. I decided to check out Stardust We Are since I heard it was one of their best. Now has my Flower Kings itch been scratched, yes, yes it has.

The has that same wonderful sound I expect from The Flower Kings. Symphonic, and rocking. However it has a bit of a psychedelic-astral like edge to it. I feel like they took some notes from bands like Hawkwind or even Pink Floyd. It also feels a lot weirder. I noticed in tracks like Circus Brimstone and Don of the Universe that they had more whimsical and downright odd at times. It adds a lot of charm to the album that not even Unfold the Future might've had, and it definitely works in it's favor.

However, this album has something that Unfold the Future excel in, and that is the fact that every track is a gem stone. Now the lot of the tracks are extremely well made, however there are some more shorter tracks that are 1 minute or less. These tracks sort of mess up the album a bit due to the fact I feel like they are purely unnecessary and are just filler. Not only that but if they had to add them onto the album, they should've just put them within a track they come after or before. This also has the same problem I had with Unfold the Future. I would totally preferred if they removed a few tracks off this album and put them on singles or EPs, or put them in the album as bonus tracks for a deluxe release. It sort diminishes it's replay value quite a bit. On top of that, while I did say the weirdness it has gives it quite a bit of charm, it also has a weakness in that it could make new comers to the band turn away because of the interesting routes that band sometimes takes with these songs.

All my ramblings aside, I still really liked this album. It's whimsical and weird, and had a ton of strong moments, however it definitely has it's fair share of issues, maybe a bit more than I'd like the admit. Still a great album though.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Flower Kings came with a double album just a year after a regular single CD album. Caution is required. After listening to it a couple of times, I can say that for me, this is the only justified studio double album by Flower Kings. Maybe because they kept recycling ideas and seemed to be doing d ... (read more)

Report this review (#2963365) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, October 21, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Stardust We Are" is the first of many double-disc albums from The Flower Kings. While the first two Flower Kings albums that preceded this one are great, "Stardust We Are" captures the band firing on all cylinders from a creativity standpoint. Considering that this album is one hundred thirty minut ... (read more)

Report this review (#2938183) | Posted by Magog2112 | Saturday, July 8, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Stardust We Are, the masterpiece by The Flower Kings and their best album to date. How many prog albums can compete with this? Not many. If it were my choice, I'd remove In The Court Of The Crimson King and replace it with this absolute masterpiece of a prog album. This deserves so much mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#2374803) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Sunday, April 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Magical. While the album should not work so well (it is perhaps the perfect example of the main problem with TFK albums - they go on too long and could be more selective in song choice - this one is two long CDs and contains a few songs that should have been left out), this album has a particular ... (read more)

Report this review (#1703398) | Posted by Walkscore | Saturday, March 18, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have now listened some times to The Flower King's third studio record "Stardust we are" from 1997. It is a huge collection of music for us who love sweaping and positive symphonic rock. The music i truely dynamic and the instrument performances are very professional and great. It came sixtee ... (read more)

Report this review (#1101098) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, December 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have a friend named Steve. He and I worked in college radio together, in the 1970s prog tidal wave days. In the 1980s, he was the best man at my wedding, and I was at his. Somehow Steve stayed in touch with the prog genre in the 80s and 90s when radio moved away from it, before the Internet made ... (read more)

Report this review (#1069218) | Posted by Dreamer of Pictures | Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Close to Divine but a little uneven and too long. Classics unmistakable as Stardust We Are (one of the best of his career), Compassion, Church Of The Heart and In The Eyes Of The World are found in this double album released 16 years ago. Like several of the works of these Swedish musicians, th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1007176) | Posted by sinslice | Saturday, July 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars As it happened to me with Spock's Beard's Snow, I had great expectations on this work. I had listen to The Sum Of No Reason long time ago and I had decided to give this band a more deep opportunity. I must say I got some kind of disappoinment, it would seem to me that this band prefers to work ... (read more)

Report this review (#993151) | Posted by MyDarling95 | Sunday, July 7, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The Flower King's first double album, Stardust We Are, is very difficult for me to review; while it contains what I consider to be some of the band's best material to date, it also contains a lot of wandering, subpar songs that drag things down and detract from the experience. The strong melod ... (read more)

Report this review (#916080) | Posted by RBlak054 | Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Stardust We Are marks the beginning of a double-album craze Roine and company seem fond of. While this would seem like a good idea, double albums like these are usually chocked full with less than amazing material, or filler. This album is no exception. The high points of this album are some of the ... (read more)

Report this review (#779526) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Who will enjoy this album? Flower kings fans of course who have that album missing in their collections. This is definitely one of their best if not their best. Even still I am not sure this is the easiest Flower Kings album to start with; any symphonic prog or prog fans in general will s ... (read more)

Report this review (#629508) | Posted by Theriver | Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is a masterpiece.No doubt it! The Flower Kings is one of the best and most popular progressive rock bands of today and if they had disappointed me with "Retropolis", could my forgiveness with "Stardust we are. " With it is a double album, it is difficult to speak of track by track, bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#395550) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, February 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After rating the first two albums from that highly-productive group, here is their first double- CD outing. The title is "Stardust We Are", and you'll find a track of that name as the last one of CD-2. Well... When I try to convince people (not-prog people) that modern prog exists, while they ... (read more)

Report this review (#324431) | Posted by Progdaybay | Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I would say that this is the album where the Flower Kings came of age. It is a superb burst of creative energy. CD1 is consistently superb, and while momentum is slightly lost at times in CD2, it ends with the magnificent epic 'Stardust We Are', which must be one of their greatest works. I am ... (read more)

Report this review (#261835) | Posted by dmwilkie | Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Welcome to the circus... "Stardust we are" is one of the most remarkable works of the modern era of symphonic rock. Like many other The Flower Kings albums also this one is highly underrated. There is no reason to give low rating to a double album only for some fillers on it and it's distinctio ... (read more)

Report this review (#248318) | Posted by ChrisDawid | Thursday, November 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THIS CD HAS NOT GOT MORE 5 STAR RATINGS. This is as good as it gets for contemporary symphonic progressive rock. TWO CD's of outstanding quality, each bursting forth with lush keyboards, scintillating guitar, excellent bass lines and intricate drumming. Lets start with CD ... (read more)

Report this review (#231054) | Posted by M27Barney | Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4 stars Ahh, the ever controversial Flower Kings. A band often maligned for creating music they themselves would want to hear. Maybe the critics just don't have a lot of free time to listen to all the massive releases by this band? :) For me, they embody everything I love about prog music. Which, ... (read more)

Report this review (#206301) | Posted by infandous | Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5 stars really. There is a lot to admire on this album, but there is also a fair bit of filler..and sometimes it is in the same song! The instruments are all played well and Stolt's voice is OK, but no individual song screams 'classic' to me. 'Circus Brimstone' and the title epic come the ... (read more)

Report this review (#174870) | Posted by digdug | Sunday, June 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the Album that got me into Prog. The Flower Kings are, to this day, one of the bands that I think of when I think Progressive Rock (among others). (Spock's Beard is another one of those bands) This album is absolutely crazy as is most of the stuff that they do. This is not the kind o ... (read more)

Report this review (#120935) | Posted by the_3d_man | Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the first double-CD release by TFK. They surely are very prolific and there's no thing that they write than can't be listened pleasantly, but this time I think that the album would have been better as a single CD with a strict selection of the tracks, keeping only the best ones, and pe ... (read more)

Report this review (#76044) | Posted by eddietrooper | Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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