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THE FLOWER KINGS

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


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The Flower Kings biography
It's hard to make a biography about THE FLOWER KINGS, being that there's so much to say about them, so any attempt of telling their history may seem insufficient.

This esential Swedish group was born around 1993 as a power trio formed by Roine Stolt (Ex-KAIPA) in guitar and vocals, Jaime Salazar (Drums) and Hasse Bruniusson (percussion), and ex-SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, this lineup worked with Stolt in his solo album "The Flower King" with the participation of Hans Fröberg (Lead and Backing vocals) who would stay with them.

Soon they decided to form a band using the name of the solo album so THE FLOWER KINGS was born, the keyboardist Tomas Bodin and Roine's brother Michael in the bass joined and the band was officially born.

For 1995 they have their first release ready "Back in the World of Adventures" which impressed the critics very much for their closeness to the style of early bands such as Moody Blues, genesis, Jethro Tull etc, borrowing ideas but not music, so you can easily find their inspiration but a single chord copied, I personally liked the album but found it closer to Neo Prog than to Symphonic but this is only a stylistic precision that has no relation with the quality of the album.

The next few years are prolific with few changes and they release "Retropolis" in 1996. Stardust we Are" in 1997 and "Flower Power" in 1998 with no great changes.

In 1999 Michael Stolt leaves the band and is replaced by Jonas Reingold so the new formation for "Space Revolver" in the year 2000 also includes Ulf Wallander playing the Sax as a guest that remains for a long period with them.

After "The Rainmaker" in 2001 Jaime Salazar leaves the band and the drums are taken by Zoltan Csörsz who stays in the band until the release of "Paradox Hotel" (2005) when is replaced by Marcus Liliequist.

As most Swedish bands the quality of their music and the musicianship of their members is
impeccable but don't expect the complexity of their most illustrious compatriots like Anglagard or the dark and almost religious atmosphere of Par Lindh Project (With whom Roine worked in Gothic Impressions), being that the music of THE FLOWER KINGS is a bit lighter but not inferior by any means.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

The Flower Kings official website

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Space RevolverSpace Revolver
Import
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RainmakerRainmaker
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Imports 2010
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The Road Back Home: The Best Of (2CD)The Road Back Home: The Best Of (2CD)
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$14.55
$6.87 (used)
FlowerpowerFlowerpower
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$14.99
$11.19 (used)
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THE FLOWER KINGS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE FLOWER KINGS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 521 ratings
Back In The World Of Adventures
1995
3.73 | 451 ratings
Retropolis
1996
3.92 | 526 ratings
Stardust We Are
1997
3.96 | 444 ratings
Flower Power
1999
3.85 | 494 ratings
Space Revolver
2000
3.48 | 397 ratings
The Rainmaker
2001
3.88 | 471 ratings
Unfold The Future
2002
3.50 | 438 ratings
Adam & Eve
2004
3.72 | 444 ratings
Paradox Hotel
2006
3.81 | 496 ratings
The Sum Of No Evil
2007
4.06 | 714 ratings
Banks Of Eden
2012
4.00 | 505 ratings
Desolation Rose
2013

THE FLOWER KINGS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 110 ratings
Alive On Planet Earth
2000
4.40 | 157 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003
2003
3.38 | 28 ratings
Carpe Diem
2008
4.10 | 64 ratings
Tour Kaputt
2011

THE FLOWER KINGS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.14 | 117 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003
2003
3.78 | 84 ratings
Instant Delivery
2006
4.27 | 44 ratings
Tour Kaputt
2011

THE FLOWER KINGS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 44 ratings
Scanning The Greenhouse
1998
3.24 | 67 ratings
The Road Back Home
2007

THE FLOWER KINGS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
The Flower Kings
1999
2.70 | 11 ratings
Fanclub CD 2000
2000
3.02 | 32 ratings
The Rainmaker (Limited Edition)
2001
3.91 | 21 ratings
The Fanclub CD 2002 - A Collection Of Flower Kings Related Music
2002
3.79 | 23 ratings
Live In New York - Official Bootleg
2003
2.22 | 8 ratings
Fanclub CD 2004
2004
2.15 | 31 ratings
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid!!!
2004
2.84 | 23 ratings
Harvest Fanclub CD 2005
2005
3.65 | 37 ratings
BrimStoned In Europe
2005

THE FLOWER KINGS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Sum Of No Evil by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.81 | 496 ratings

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The Sum Of No Evil
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

5 stars One of two TFK masterpieces!

While 'Unfold the Future' is often lauded as one of TFK's best albums, Sum of No Evil is often overlooked. But I think it qualifies as the second TFK masterpiece, and thus deserves much more attention. Many reviewers here on PA have rated this down, but I think this is a problematic result of the way ratings work on sites like this, and not a reflection of the true musical value of this great work. When someone is rating an album that we all know well (say, a classic album from the 70s), it is one we have listened to for years, multiple times. So, even for those albums that are very dense, complex and difficult to penetrate at first (think, a lot of the more difficult albums by Yes, GG, the Hatfield's, etc), after multiple listens over many years emerges the musicality that was initially impenetrable to the listener. So, we can say that Tales is a great, musical album and rate it accordingly. However, when a recent album is released, many reviewers will listen to it once or twice, and then review it. The more difficult-to-penetrate albums are then rated down, because they have not had the luxury of multiple listens yet. And multiple listens are absolutely essential - much of the pleasure of good music is derived from the anticipation of knowing what comes next - satisfying that anticipation releases endorphins in the brain, leading to the pleasure we experience when a great section of music we have listened to many times arrives. But an album one listens to once or twice cannot, by definition, do this, particularly one that is more complex and difficult to get initially, even when they are highly musical. Meanwhile, other more-accessible albums that one can easily 'get' on first or second listen then get higher ratings (think many of the recent neo-prog albums). Even worse, on first listen, one might catch a few musical or lyrical references to those older classic 70s albums, and if at the same time the rest of the music seems impenetrable, it is so easy to be derogatory and label the music as just "retro-prog". I think this is patently unfair, and so I make a policy of only reviewing albums that I have listened to multiple times, and also of reviewing the music AS music, regardless of when and by whom it was made, or what is on the album cover.

And this album, to me, stands up there with the best of many of the classics. If it had been released in 1975, I think it would be up there in the top 100. I think if it had the benefit of decades, by now reviewers would know it inside out and would have a different take. It is both very dense (so requiring MANY multiple listens) AND very musical. It takes a long while to cognitively map this album, but once you do, one finds an exceptionally satisfying and beautiful set of music. Even the short slower tune, "Trading My Soul", which many reviewers here on PA seem to dismiss as it strikes them as less progressive and sappy (probably after one or two listens), is exceptionally musical and poignant. It all flows together very well, and even though this album is another example of an over-extended TFK set (over 78 minutes!), it carries you along and the time flies quickly. You don't want it to end!

While TKF albums and songs are, for the most part, not notable for their lyrics, this album is an exception. I really appreciate Roine Stolt's lyrics here - instead of searching around for external topics to write about (like he did in Adam and Eve, and Paradox Hotel), Stolt here writes from the heart. Reviewers seem to have latched onto a few lines (like the title and some lyrics in the long epic "Love is the Only Answer") in their arguments for why this album might be graded down, or deemed retro, etc, without actually listening to the content of the lyrics. Now I don't know Roine Stolt (and have never met him) but it seems to me this is his most personal TFK album. Indeed, I think the entire album is a dialogue with himself about the benefits of continuing with TFK, the sacrifices he and his family have made, and even his relationship with music itself. Stolt is someone who has given his entire life to music, but despite building a small but solid TFK following the band remained precarious. On this album, it seems he is letting on that he has decided to give it one more try, to follow his heart one more time, knowing full well he was getting older, 'trading his soul', and soon would have to make some decisions and reconcile with his other loved ones. Many of the songs are full of personal thoughts (including references to some of Stolt's favourite songs, and heroes, which on this album often take on multiple meanings). "Love is the Only Answer" is not a sappy throwaway, but an internal dialogue negotiating with darkness. The closing piece ("Life in Motion") ended up having a double meaning. He was coming home again to music. But after the tour ('Kaput'!), he folded the TFK for 5 years and actually did go home. Perhaps he was too emotionally drained, perhaps the opportunity to rejoin Transatlantic was just too lucrative, perhaps a number of things, but I wonder what would have happened with TFK if this album had been the one to take off. Regardless, I see this album as a huge musical accomplishment. It contains some of TFK's best compositions, and some of Stolt's most personal and (to me) interesting lyrics. There is not an unmusical minute on it, let alone an unmusical song (whereas other TFK albums usually contain a few duds, this one is just so musical all the way through). The first (and second, and third) time I listened to this, I found it too dense to form an opinion about it, but if I had to might have agreed with those who said it is fragmented and impenetrable. It is a good thing I didn't review it then! I have by now listened to this over 50 times. It is one of the few albums in my collection that just keeps getting better with each listen (those pro-musical endorphins at work!). It is a real keeper. I give it 9.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, and so 5 PA stars.

 The Rainmaker by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.48 | 397 ratings

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The Rainmaker
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Very good - high 3*!

This album is often viewed less worthy than other TFK albums. However, there is some excellent music on here. This album is the last album to feature Jamie Salazar on drums, who had played with the TFK since inception (and on the album that started it all, The Flower King). I don't have any inside information about the band, but Salazar officially quit in May 2001, and listening to this it seems that Stolt may have rushed the recording process in order to be able to get Salazar to play on it (and the title "Rainmaker" - clearly a double-entendre - does this also refer to Salazar - the one who brought the 'rain' (Stolt crying?)). Some of the songs are mere fragments (eg "Red Alert") that would have been great if developed into, or made part of, longer pieces, while others (eg "World without Heart", "Thru the Walls", "Elaine") feel like they were written, or wrapped up, quickly. I also wonder if the last song "Serious Dreamers" is not about the loss of Salazar, who apparently quit not for emotional or musical reasons, but for entirely pragmatic reasons. While I think many of the songs are great, I do think there is a problem with the running order. Unfortunately, at key points the songs do not flow well from one to another, and I actually think it opens with the wrong song. While on first glance "Last Minute on Earth" sounds like a good opener, after multiple listens I think it would have been better near the end. 'Last Minute' sets a sad-ish tone, and as a longish and often harder-edged song, exacts a bit more from the listener than many other tunes, which is good but means they may be tired by the time the rest of the album comes along. "World without Heart" should also be near the end - it doesn't work as a second song. The best piece on the album is the longest one, "Road to Sanctuary", up there with the best TFK pieces, and if this had opened the album I think it would have set the tone differently. Saying this, I also agree that a number of tunes on this album don't seem as well worked out. Even 'Road' should have been longer - just when it seems it would be great for it to come back to the main theme (after 14 minutes, thus creating an extended epic) it ends. Did the band not have time to make sure this one lived up to its potential? "Serious Dreamers" is excellent, and it grooves. However, the groove is interupted on a number of occassions - if this had been played live a number of times first I think the band would have realised a better arrangement. "Rainmaker" And songs like "Elaine" and "Thru the Walls" are filler (although "Elaine" has a really fantastic bass-led section at its coda - that minute alone is worth the price of the album!). I really like the title track, but it is mainly a guitar solo, and could have been developed more into something with even more musical and emotional weight. So, on the whole, lots of excellent music, but an album that seems to miss its potential, possibly because the band didn't have enough time to really think/play through the music before it had to be recorded. On balance, I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translate to the high end of 3 PA stars.

 Flower Power by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.96 | 444 ratings

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Flower Power
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Mixed, but Iconic

TFK was creatively peaking around this time. Here is another double-CD release, right after a previous one (Stardust We Are). Roine Stolt (and Thomas Bodin) sure were productive song writers! Unlike other bands where quantity is usually traded off with quality, the opposite seems to be the case with TFK. When they are writing a lot of songs in a short space of time, they tend to be better quality! And prolific they were. The former album (Stardust We Are) was 130 minutes. This album, only a year later, is 140 minutes long. That makes 270 minutes, or the equivalent of about 7 normal-length vinyl albums (!). (And Roine Stolt recorded his Hydrophonia album around this time too). One criticism I have of TFK is that their albums are too long, and usually contain a couple of tunes that would have been better left off, and this one is no exception. Saying this, one cannot help but marvel that the sheer productivity here, and the vast majority (90 percent) is excellent.

As for the music, this album contains the hour-long (!) epic "Garden of Dreams". While I prefer the live version on 'Meet the Flower Kings' to this version (the live version is 45 minutes, as opposed to an hour, but has longer solos), one can't deny there is some great music here. It clearly took a lot of work to compose and record this music! After the epic, CD1 ends with a short drum solo ("IKEA by Night") and a great instrumental built around a guitar solo, reminding me of some of Zappa's guitar-based work ("Astral Dog"). CD2 is like a different album, with mostly shorter pieces, but some great music. "Deaf, Numb and Blind", which opens CD2, is among the best TFK songs, as is the second-last tune "Calling Home". Those two add up to 22 minutes, and provide the heights on this album. In between are a mixed collection. "Psychedelic Postcard"/"Hudson River Sirens Call" is really very good, as is "Painter". "Afterlife" is also great - a wrap-up of Garden of Dreams which ends the album both on a high note, and by reminding the listener of that epic. However, I can't listen to "Stupid Girl", and both "Corruption" and "The power of Kindness" (an organ mirror of one of the themes in "Garden of Dreams") are just OK and (to my ears, along with the decent but entirely different "Magic Pie") break up the flow of this CD. There are many great musical sections though, and if CD2 had involved "only" 45 minutes of the best pieces, it would have flowed exceptionally well. On balance, I give this album 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to high 4 PA stars. (Notably, while they are very different albums, this just happens to be the same rating I give to Stardust We Are. Two great double-CD albums back to back).

 Stardust We Are by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.92 | 526 ratings

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Stardust We Are
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

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 particularly interesting, unique, almost magical effect. I think this has to do with the peculiar structure of the album with a number of songs along the way providing subliminal previews of the amazing epic title track which (after what seems like waiting for Godot) is amazing once it arrives. Just based on listening (and having no inside information about the band), it seems to me that they recorded the title track first ("Stardust We Are", which gets its name from the Joni Mitchell song "Woodstock"). But then they realized that part 3 is really special and should have appeared earlier to mirror its appearance there, and then that some other themes are quite good and so should have been mirrored earlier too. So, they recorded other versions of these themes, and sprinkled them elsewhere in the album. So, by the time one gets to the end, one has heard all the main themes but in different guises! (and at first you won't recognize them as such). This produces a strange (but highly pleasurable) "deja vu" feel when you finally get to the epic, "Stardust We Are". Indeed, the song "Stardust We Are" probably should probably have been much longer, and/or split into two parts (eg one that opens, and another that closes, the album, like on 'Space Revolver'). But I guess they didn't want to touch the piece once they recorded it, so instead they modified the rest of the album to support the key epic. Strange, but it really works. While the music elsewhere on this album normally would just be 'very good', because the various 'Stardust We Are' themes are tying many of them together, the albums flows very well to its penultimate ending. It is like a movie in which you are trying to figure out some key plot lines, and there are all these clues scattered throughout the movie, and then the penultimate scene arrives in the movie and all these clues suddenly make sense, but come together in a huge plot twist! (or something). Really unlike any other album. Of course you need to listen to it multiple times to get it, and this will take a while (almost 130 minutes every listen!), but it is worth it.

Saying this, I still think it is too long, and certain pieces should have been left off. This includes (for me) the song "Just This Once" near the beginning of CD1, and "Different People" in the middle of CD2. I also think that this is the album that contains the most 'retro' sounds in the TFK catalogue (there is one guitar solo that sounds like Fripp, another one that sounds like Howe, etc), and not 'Retropolis'.

On the positive side, the album begins with the excellent "In the Eyes of the World", and near the end of CD1 is the excellent instrumental "Circus Brimstone". These are two classic TFK songs, up there with their best, and indeed, I would put them up there with the best of progressive rock (or rock in general). I also think CD1 closes on a particularly good note with "Compassion" - a slow gothic tune but very musical. In addition to the epic at the end, gems on CD2 include "The End of Innocence" and "The Merrygoround". In reality, in between these tracks is a lot of filler, but this is the filler the ties everything together, and except for "just this once" and "Different People" I find most of this to be very musical. I would recommend you give this album a number of listens. Perhaps you won't experience the same magical effect, but then again you might. I give this album 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Close to 5 PA stars.

 Retropolis by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.73 | 451 ratings

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Retropolis
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Fragmented, but with some Great Tracks.

I actually disagree with those critics who claim this album shows The Flower Kings "paying tribute to the groups that brought them to do what they are doing" (François Couture of AllMusic) by purposefully writing retro-referencing pieces. While one can pick up hints of classic influences in all Flower Kings albums, they are not on display here at all. Indeed, overt references to older bands are much more prominent on the former album (Back in the World of Adventures) and the one that would follow (Stardust We Are) than this one. But for some reason, the idea that this is there 'retro' album has become ingrained, likely due merely to the album title. Instead, here the Flower Kings present a number of original new tunes. Some of them are truly great. The title instrumental track is sheer excellence (10/10!), although it takes multiple listens to get to know it (very dense). But it is very musical. "There is More to this World" is a great song, although I prefer the live versions to this one. "Silent Sorrow" and "Judas Kiss" are also very strong - up there with the best songs on the first two albums (including The Flower King). And the closer, "The Road Back Home", while not perfect, has tons of potential as a song (would have loved to hear an extended live version of this!). Why not 4 PA stars? The album is fragmented with tons of filler. In between the great songs, are short (and sometimes not-so-short) pieces of music that too often just get in the way. They interrupt the flow between the greats. One of my (and many others, it would seem) criticisms of The Flower Kings albums is that they can be too long. Well, on some albums all the tunes are great, so the length is not a problem (eg Unfold the Future, which is 150 minutes long, but good all the way through). This one, though, very clearly should have been shorter, with just the most musical pieces included. Saying this, the good tunes are great. I give this album 7.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just 0.1 shy of my criteria for 4 stars. So, high 3 PA stars.

 Back In The World Of Adventures by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.05 | 521 ratings

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Back In The World Of Adventures
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Decent Follow-up to The Flower King.

If it weren't for the title track. With the success of The Flower King album, Roine Stolt put together a touring band, which became The Flower Kings, and began a 20+ year journey and legacy. This album is a good follow-up to Stolt's Flower King. It contains some of the band's most classic compositions. The closer, "Big Puzzle", is one of them, and up there among the best of the band's catalogue. There are some great instrumental songs here too, with "Atomic Prince/ Kaleidoscope" and "Theme for a Hero" being the most notable. Unfortunately, most Flower Kings albums are a bit longer than they need to be, and in turn usually contain one or two songs that need not have been on the album. On this one, there are two songs that I am not as keen on. "Cosmic Lover" has quite a different style than the rest of the album (almost a dance groove) and for me breaks the flow, while the lyrics do nothing for me (lyrics are not usually the strong suit on Flower Kings albums). The other one is actually the title track, which I find too derivative of Crimson and other classic progressive rock bands, and the lyrics border on trite. However, even without these two tracks, the album is almost an hour long, and the quality of the rest of the tracks are very high. On balance, I give this 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars. If you like The Flower King album, this is the natural next up (but that debut is even better).

 Back In The World Of Adventures by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.05 | 521 ratings

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Back In The World Of Adventures
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by nandprogger

4 stars Before to say of this album is necessary to introduce a brief history of TFK. This band it's so important of new generation of symphonic prog bands of 90's. It's so difficult to define or compare with other band of style or sub genre, it's better to say that TFK create a new style symphonic prog rock and pattern for other bands as Magic Pie, Anima Mundi and others.

In this album, TFK shows as prog rock can be so funny and different, the voice of Roine Stolt contribute for define also the style of band. The sensation "prima facie" is something simple, but happened high levels of creativity; the melodies summon up somenthing of funny, exploring the possibilities of keyboards. Moments so heavy in guitar and voice, Roine Stolt has a clear interpretation. Sometimes looks that hear a soundtrack of a movie because facility to change of melodies. In fact, perceives a tribute to classic prog rock bands, mainly for the use of keyboards; as the paralel projects of members of the group, it' sonds like a instrumental bands that use prog rock influences, but hearing the complete album perceives that is just a sensation.

Welcome Back is a excellent debut album of a band that has a style and shows this in your carrer, and more: style and quality that shows is possible to make a new and good generation of progressive rock. Prog rock don't live only in the past but the past contributes for a new resumption. I think that TFK is important not only as progresssive group but a lot of projects that emerged of this band.

 Stardust We Are by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.92 | 526 ratings

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Stardust We Are
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Space Revolver by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.85 | 494 ratings

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Space Revolver
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I guess I've been wrong for dismissing the Flower Kings through all the years. It's probably because simple 30 second samples at Amazon hardly does them justice. I also had too many bad experiences with contemporary prog where they cram as much as they can on one CD as possible without enough good material to justify such a lengthy CD. That and the fact the Flower Kings are so prolific, it isn't even funny and bound to give a lot of filler in the process. In recent years they had toned down their output, between 2007 and 2012 there were no new material released, and after 2013 with the release of Desolation Rose, there's been nothing new since. So, now, in 2016, I went and bought two used Flower Kings CDs, Space Revolver and their newest one, Desolation Rose in Eugene, Oregon. I took a gamble, and lo and behold, Space Revolver is great. I know many fans consider this one of their better albums, and for good reason. Just check out the opening "I Am the Sun (Part One)". I am particularly fond of the more calm, atmospheric passages. This album brought in Jonas Reingold, whose bass playing is obviously influenced by fusion, especially the fretless bass. "Dream On Dreamer" is a really nice, atmospheric piece that sounded like it should have belonged to a suite, instead of being on its own, but still it really blew me away. Nice jazzy sax moves too. "Monster Within" is most noted for the guitar riffs that I really dig. "Chicken Farmer Song" bears more than a passing resemblance to Phish. Here the band is exploring their less serious side. I have referred to the Flower Kings as a hippie prog band, even if they weren't attempting to be a progged version of the Grateful Dead, it's because their CD titles often bore hippie references: Stardust We Are, Flower Power, and the cover to The Sum of No Evil depicts a hippie VW bus/goldfish combo, but they basically stay to the traditional symphonic prog template. But the Phish resemblance on "Chicken Farmer Song" is another reason I referred them as a "hippie prog band". "You Don't Know What You Got" is my least favorite, an acoustic piece that sounds like something I've heard off public radio. "Underdog" threw me off with the bagpipes at the beginning, I was wondering if they were going to do some sort of Celtic/Scottish thing, but instead they go into Yes territory. "A Slave to Money" is a song as equally relevant in 2000 as it is now in 2016 (and probably 1985 as well, when I started noticing the greed mentality starting have its presence known in America).

I am actually happy to finally come to terms with the Flower Kings. As mentioned before, I understand Space Revolver is one of their better releases, so it's something I don't regret purchasing. At first listen it gave me that impression as to why I dismissed them all these years, but then it really grew on me. If you're a fan, you already have this, but if you want to start with the Flower Kings, this is a great place to start, besides it's one of their "shorter" releases (because it's a single CD set, as they released their share of double CDs).

 Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003 by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Live, 2003
4.40 | 157 ratings

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Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Mr. Gone

5 stars I honestly can't say much that already hasn't been said here. The number of five-star reviews and generally glowing outlook that many seem to have toward this album is, in my mind, totally justified. Simply put, this is an absolutely fantastic document.

I own basically everything this band has ever released. To me, they epitomize the best of symphonic prog - melodic complexity, a slightly jazzy bent at times, a sense of adventure - and, to top it all off, a mostly positive outlook as well (though that has waned on more recent releases). At the same time, while I love much of their music, things can occasionally become a bit too self-indulgent - an overlong solo, a bit too much cleverness. Such is the nature of trying to produce music like this, and given how prolific Roine Stolt and company have been over time, it's easy to forgive the occasional misfire when there are far more moments of brilliance and true musical sophistication.

Any issues one might have had on the studio releases, however, are all completely discarded here. If I were to pick one album to initiate someone to TFK with, this would be it. It has the epics (including a nicely pared-down "Garden of Dreams" - I don't miss what they didn't include, anyway), and they're delivered tastefully, precisely, and beautifully, with a ton of feeling behind them too. I particularly love "Humanizzimo", especially the part where Ulf Wallander's soprano sax would've been (love his work, don't get me wrong) - the eerie keyboards and fantastic bass/drum work send chills down my spine every time. I will say that the rhythm section of Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Csörsz are outstanding throughout these performances - wonderful underpinnings to the adventuresome melody players. (I find myself wishing Csörsz would've hung around longer. All their drummers have been top-notch, but I really like his work and feel a loss that he apparently didn't care for the arrangements for some reason. I also wish Wallander and Hasse Bruniusson were around for their more recent releases, but that's another story.) Everyone is really in top form, both technically and expressively. It's pure joy listening to this, even at its great length. The material and the execution are the epitome of what symphonic progressive rock is at its best.

So, if you're reading this, please get yourself a copy of this CD. You will not be disappointed. Five stars.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition.

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