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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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Sum of No EvilSum of No Evil
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$6.83
$16.85 (used)
Stardust We AreStardust We Are
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$8.28
$54.36 (used)
The Road Back Home: The Best Of (2CD)The Road Back Home: The Best Of (2CD)
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$14.55
$6.86 (used)
Banks Of EdenBanks Of Eden
Century Media 2012
Audio CD$12.07
$6.90 (used)
Space RevolverSpace Revolver
Import
Imports 2010
Audio CD$6.80
$7.65 (used)
Rainmaker + BonusRainmaker + Bonus
Import
Audio CD$34.99
$11.97 (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 | 523 ratings
Back In The World Of Adventures
1995
3.73 | 452 ratings
Retropolis
1996
3.92 | 527 ratings
Stardust We Are
1997
3.95 | 447 ratings
Flower Power
1999
3.85 | 495 ratings
Space Revolver
2000
3.48 | 399 ratings
The Rainmaker
2001
3.88 | 474 ratings
Unfold The Future
2002
3.50 | 439 ratings
Adam & Eve
2004
3.72 | 445 ratings
Paradox Hotel
2006
3.81 | 497 ratings
The Sum Of No Evil
2007
4.06 | 714 ratings
Banks Of Eden
2012
4.00 | 506 ratings
Desolation Rose
2013

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

3.80 | 111 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
 Unfold The Future by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.88 | 474 ratings

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Unfold The Future
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Norbert

3 stars Unfold the Future is the seventh studio album by Swedish progressive rock band The Flower Kings. Behind the not exactly beautiful artwork we can find 2 CDs, so this is the third of their 4 double albums. The first disc is about 74 minutes long, the second one is a bit shorter, it clocks at about 67 minutes. This is the debut studio album with The Flower Kings for my fellow Hungarian drummer Zoltán Csörsz, and guest singer Daniel Gildenlöw, mainly known as the mastermind of Pain of Salvation, and the permanent guest musician Hasse Bruniusson, most familiar from Samla Mammas Manna also featured here. The musicanship is excellent as on any album released by The Flower Kings, especially bassist Jonas Reingold and Zoltán Csörsz do an absolutely outsanding job. The problems arise with the compositions, we are talking here about an album which is more than 140 minutes long. So the quantity is huge, but how about the quality? This album is in the usual style of The Flower Kings, so Symphonic Prog mainly influenced by Yes, Genesis, Camel with many jazz rock fusion and some Frank Zappa influence in the mix. For me it is not a big issue if a band is not exactly groundbreaking if they write great music in the vein of their influences, but here I am not very plesed with everything I hear. The opening track is called The Truth will set you free, in stucture is somewhat similar of the legendary title track of Close to the Edge, but it is 31 minutes long, almost as long as a classic prog album like Per Un Amico. It features some Symphonic Prog beauty mainly in the vein of Yes, but also some sugarsweet, cheesy parts, which would not sound out of place at an Eurovision Song Contest. If it was under 20 minutes it could be an excellent piece. If The Truth will set you free is the "Close to the Edge" of this album, Christianopel is the "Waiting Room", but the Supernatural Anaesthetist is does not appear here. The other "jam" called Soul Vortex bores me even more. The purely jazz track The Devil's Dance School performed by Jonas, Zoltán and guest musician Anders Bergcratz on trumpet is other hand really cool. I really like Silent Inferno and the other "Devil's" track, Devil's Playground. This are well written and adventurous pieces, without musically embarassing moments. Devil's playground features for example beautiful Mellotron parts, and some great vocals by Daniel Gildenlöw. On the other hand I could do easily without Monkey business, Rollin' the Dice, Man Overboard, Vox Humana and The Navigator, to name a few. Although I have a soft spot an alternate version of The Navigator called Solitary Shell (It has nothing to do with the Dream Theater track) it has better arrangements, and it is shorter, 2 and a half minutes from this balladesque music is just fine. So mastermind Roine Stolt and his crew certainly have talent to write some wonderful music, but unfortunately focus and restraint are not the keywords of this album. I would rate a well-edited 65-70 minutes long version of Unfold the Future with 5 stars, but I can't rate with more than 3 stars the existing Unfold the Future.
 Banks Of Eden by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.06 | 714 ratings

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Banks Of Eden
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars The Weakest TFK Album.

Not sure what happened here. Despite a 5-year break, TFK returned with this, their weakest album to date (the follow-up to this one, 2013's 'Desolation Rose' is much better). The opening epic, the 25-minute long "Numbers" is pretty good, as its cousin the closer "Rising the Imperial", but most of the remaining 7 tracks are sub-par for TFK (including those on the bonus CD). Of these, it is the first track on the bonus CD ("Illuminati") that is the best among the rest and which could be justified on the main album, leaving 6 tracks which stand among TFK's weakest studio releases and probably better suited for fan-club album. They are far more mainstream in approach, and their melodies and lyrics are not very compelling. Of course, this being TFK, there are some good musical ideas on each of these other tunes, but in each case they are coupled with themes and licks that are far less musical, and even off-putting - the vocodor vocal chorus on "Pandemonium" for instance, which I think ruins what could have been a good tune based on the strength of the opening lick. So, while I really like "Numbers" and "Raising the Imperial", which alone make this album worth getting, those are not enough to bring this album up above three stars (also, I wonder about the inconsistency in the composing credits here. "Numbers" is credited to Roine Stolt, while "Raising the Imperial" is credited to Jonas Reingold. However, these two tracks are musically related and share the same chorus-theme and lyrics, so who wrote that?). Despite taking 5 years, this album seems thrown together overly quickly. Of course, don't get me wrong here - a weaker TFK album is still better than the best albums from many other bands, and better than 90 percent of recorded rock music! Overall, I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 The Sum Of No Evil by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.81 | 497 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.

 Paradox Hotel by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.72 | 445 ratings

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Paradox Hotel
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Very Mixed, but some Greats.

Roine Stolt has called this TFK's White Album, and while it is not quite as varied as the WA was for the Beatles, there is here a huge range in quality just as there was in the predecessor, 'Adam and Eve'. And at two full-length CDs, this is a very long album. Thankfully, this means that if you skip the duds, you still have lots of great music. Let's begin with the greats. I really like the long epic, "Monsters and Men". While shifting (like many TFK songs) between themes, this is very musical, with some great sensitive playing (both guitar and piano), and I really like the lyrics too. For me, this tune is essential to this album (but yes, it is pretty dense, so will likely take a number of listens to 'get'). "Hit Me with a Hit" is likewise a fantastic tune, combining complexity and catchiness effortlessly into an instant progressive rock classic. "Pioneers of Aviation" has a wonderful melody and nice build up, and "Self-Consuming Fire" reminds me of the great shorter tunes on Unfold. "End on a High Note" (which closes CD1) is a fantastic uplifting piece of music. "Minor Giant Steps" (opens CD2) is a very nice tune, similar in feel to "Life in Motion" from 'Sum of no evil'. "Touch My Heaven" is very compelling, one of Thomas Bodin's best vocal-based TFK songs and among the highlights on this album, as is "What if God is Alone", an extremely musical piece with a great build up, and some thoughtful interesting lyrics too (despite the subject matter). Finally, "Blue Planet" provides a beautiful, shining, life-affirming ending to this wonderful album. I also like "Life will Kill You", Hasse Froberg's song on this album, although not at quite at the same level as the other highlights. Taken together, if you add up just these good tunes, they are too long to fit on only one CD, justifying this as a 2-CD album. So, I can see why they decided to release it as such, and if they just included those tunes, this would have been up in the five-star realm. Now for the duds. The worst here is "The Unorthodox Dancing Lesson", which includes a rip from Crimson's "Lark's Tongues in Aspic Pt II". Seemingly meant as a joke, the tune is gratingly annoying from start to finish (at least for a Crimson fan like me), despite the fact its an instrumental! "Bavarian Skies" has some decent music (written by Thomas Bodin), but Stolt's lyrics, while intellectually thoughtful and thought-provoking, make the listener want to avoid this tune after you have heard it once. While some really like "Jealousy", I have a similar reaction to this one, although it does not turn one off as much as Skies. The title track is a throwaway inside-joke rocker, harmless but not exceptionally interesting. The few remaining tracks I haven't mentioned yet ("Man of the World", "The way the water are moving", "Lucy had a Dream", and "Mommy Leave the LIght on") are all decent, better than filler but otherwise also mixed in their effects, and so tempering the wonders of the great tracks. On the whole, I am really glad this album was made, as it contains some of TFK's most compelling tracks. I would very much recommend it to anyone who likes TFK. But I agree it is hugely mixed, and it will test the patience of many listeners who listen straight all the way through. I would recommend make a custom tape, cutting out the duds - that provides a much better listening experience allowing the best tunes to shine without interruption. But the strength of the many great pieces raises the overall average, I give this 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates as 4 PA stars.

 Adam & Eve by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.50 | 439 ratings

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Adam & Eve
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Mixed of Inspired and Expired.

Unfortunately, TFK did not continue with the jazzy improvs here, but there is still some great music. However, the band also includes some duds, which break up the flow. The best track on the album, and I think up there among the best TFK songs (and indeed, among the most inspired pieces of music ever) is "A Vampire's View". This song is quite different from the standard TFK. And Daniel Gildenlow provides an astounding vocal performance here, which makes me wish he had continued singing with the band occassionally on subsequent albums. This song is the high point of the album. Another high point is the amazing epic "Driver's Seat". These two tracks are in the upper echelon of TFK's catalogue. On the other hand, the title track, "Adam and Eve" is a joke that fails both musically and poetically. A standard three chord rock tune (except for the excellent guitar solo/interlude), the lyrics paint a picture of a jealous machismo Adam. Gildenlow sings this one too, but the rough voice just works to reinforce the impression of the song as a throwaway joke. In a way, the cover - which should have been seen as a hideous mistake for an album cover - works well to communicate the failure of the title track. While interesting as art (like how the title track is interesting as a joke/statement), the cover fails as an album cover (just like how the title track fails as a song). TFK often include a dud on each album (except their two masterpieces). On this album, it is the title track. The other tunes fall somewhere in between. "The Blade of Cain" and "Timelines" are both very good music. I particularly love "Babylon", one of Thomas Bodin's most beautiful melodies, as well as "Days Gone By" which perfectly extends/end "A Vampire's View" musically and thematically. "Love Supreme" is a decent, but not particularly notable, TFK epic. I actually think one of the reasons that this album does not get as much respect from reviewers is that the order of the tracks is messed up. "Driver's Seat" should have been the opener, followed by "Vampire's View/Days Gone By", with "Love Supreme" as the closer. It works much better as a closer, wtih its repeated chorus. The two remaining tracks, both shorter vocal-based tunes, seem like filler to me ("Cosmis Circus", "Starlight Man"). So, on the whole, a mixed bag. Some of TFK's most amazing inspired music, but also a few whose expiration date was shortly after the first listen. But the strength of the excellent tracks raises this above the 3-star level. And the quality of both the recording, and the playing, is excellent. I give this 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 Unfold The Future by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.88 | 474 ratings

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Unfold The Future
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Their First Masterpiece.

It is with their first album with new (at the time) star drummer Zoltan Csorsz that TFK produced their first masterpiece. This is up there with the best of the 70s progressive rock albums, a remarkable achievement given this two-CD album is almost 140 minutes long, and TFK have a history of putting at least a couple of duds on each album. But that is not the case on this album. While some tracks are better than others, every song here is either very good or excellent. On this album, TFK explore more of their improvised jazz side, with four whole tracks ("Christianopel", "Soul Vortex", "The Devil's Danceschool" and "Too late for Tomatos") the result of in-the-studio improvs. I wish TFK did this for other albums too, as I think it really adds to the flow of the album. The improvs provide respite and a change of mind in between the more structured and complex compositions. Indeed, this album flows extremely well musically. While I think albums like "Rainmaker" and "Adam and Eve" suffered in part from a poor ordering of tracks thus breaking the flow, on this album the order works great to keep me listening for the entirety (although, at 140 mins, one needs a break between the two CDs. Every members shines here. Of course, Roine Stolt is the main song-writer, and the musicality of his writing and his excellent playing is ever-present. But Jonas Reingold's amazing bass playing also features strongly, along with Csorsz. This album also features common guests Ulf Wallander, Hasse Bruniusson, and for this album, guest vocals by Daniel Gildenlow (who would become a full member of the band for one album on 'Adam and Eve'). But it is the music that is the star here. This album contains two of TFK's best epics, the opener "The Truth will Set you Free", and the even-better "Devil's Playground", which has become one of my favourite symphonic rock epics. Devil's Playground flows directly without interuption into the improv "Too Late for Tomatos" closing the album, which works very well, as the improv gives the listener some time to engage with the end of the epic instead of dropping the album right at the end of the best song. In between these two epics are a series of TFK tracks which stand among their best. Here they are more mature and have found more of their own voice than on earlier albums like 'Back in the World of Adventures', 'Retropolis', and 'Stardust We Are', which although great had more clear references to older heroes like Genesis and Crimson. On 'Unfold the Future', TFK fully establish their own sound and thus come into their own. After the epics, my favourite tunes here include "Monkey Business", "Silent Inferno", "Genie in a Bottle", "Fast Lane", and "Solitary Shell". All round, up there with the best of symphonic rock. I give this album 9.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it among the elite of the PA masterpieces, the band's first of (only) two (the other is "Sum of No Evil"). This is a rare album that will last decades on the playlist. For sure 5 stars.

 The Rainmaker by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.48 | 399 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 7.7 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
3.95 | 447 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 | 527 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 | 452 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.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition.

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