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The Flower Kings - The Road Back Home CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 79 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 2.5 stars

Despite the fact that the songs are remastered and re-edited to make them sound refreshing, this is not a really good compilation due to the song selection. What's the problem? It puts a big emphasis on the more accessible, shorter songs while forgetting some of their best ones of those accessible songs.

The best/The Classics: Grand Old World, Stardust We Are, Cosmic Circus, I Am The Sun

The above average ones: King's Prayer, Babylon, Church of Your Heart, What if God is Alone?, The Road Back Home, Painter, ChickenFarm Song, The Rhythm of the Sea, Touch My Heaven, Compassion, The Flower King

The average ones: Paradox Hotel, World Without a Heart, Vox Humana, Ghost of the Red Cloud, Life Will Kill You

Below average ones: Starlight Man, Stupid Girl, Cosmic Lover, Different People, Monkey Business.

That is the problem: it avoids the epics which are really the Flower Kings' strength and the compilation includes songs that are subpar for them and considered by some to be "filler". Why would they avoid to put instantly likable songs like "Go West Judas" or "Melting Pot". However, the good thing about this compilation is that many of these average Flower Kings songs have been improved a lot.

I have never reviewed a compilation, let alone one which edits the songs, so in order to write this review, I will separate these songs into 5 groups: "much better than original", "somewhat better than original", "about the same as original", "worse than original", "no noticeable differences".

Much Better Than Original : Stupid Girl not only is it much shorter and skips that irritating zappa-like melody at the end, but it sounds much better, more smooth, and has a better guitar solo. Vox Humana is full of texture this time and wonderful on headphones. The synthesizers and harmonies sound better as well. Different People sounds less messy/muddy and more psychedelic as it was intended to be. I love the vocal harmonies at the end. Compassion not only is the pointless last 3 minutes cut off but the song sounds bigger and more symphonic than before.

Better Than Original : My Cosmic Lover because the production sounds a lot better and clearer. I don't like how the bass is lower in the mix though but no big deal. Paradox Hotel because it's shorter. World Without a Heart because it's remastered and because of the added vocal harmonies near the end. Church of Your Heart because it's shorter without losing anything important. Grand Old World has better arrangements in the background. The Road Back Home benefits from Hasse replacing Roine at spots (It wasn't Roine's best moment). Some synths are replaced by better-sounding moogs. Ghost of The Red Cloud has better sound quality, especially the guitar shines here.

As enjoyable as original : Starlight Man has better sound quality and instrumentation but the vocal harmonies on the refrains lack the "wall of sound" that I loved in the original version. I Am The Sun pt2 is criminally cut to four minutes, but I learned that I stands on its own pretty well as a simple pop song though I don't like the ending much. Rhythm of the Sea has its pointless avant-garde at the beginning cut off. The new church organ and "iiiii" vocals during the chorus are unnecessary though. Touch My Heaven nice new solo! The Flower King wow this song is changed! It is a complete remake of that anthemic tune. The choruses have more power and the keyboards sound better with Thomas. Unfortunately, the beginning of the instrumental section is not excellent and the satrianish guitar riff there is missing.

No noticeable Difference : What if God is Alone, Chicken Farm Song, Life Will Kill You, Monkey Business,

Worse Than Original : A King's Prayer because the string arrangements before the guitar solo was changed for the worse and the guitar solo is weaker and is faded out. Cosmic Circus is slightly worse IMO because the vocal harmony is slightly less powerful and the guitar follows the synth melody. No big deal, the song is still amazing. Stardust We Are Roine, What have you done!? Not only you cut off the first 15 minutes of it, making this lose some of its power as a climax but the tempo is slowed and sometimes the volume is surprisingly low. This version just sounds emotionless and tired. The magic of the song is gone.

Well, about the 2 songs that I didn't talk about yet: Little Deceiver and Cinema Show (Genesis). Little Deceive is a leftover track from Rainmaker, their least inspired album for many listeners. It is a very average folky ballad and weaker than anything on Rainmaker. The first half of Cinema Show was brilliantly covered and the Flower Kings add some nice touches to that amazing track. Unfortunately, they get too loud during the instrumental section and the production is a bit muddy. That ruins what could have been a great cover song.

To conclude: this album might be fine for newcomers who are not very familiar to progressive rock and just want this as the only Flower King album to own. For people interested in the band, it's just better to get one of their highly acclaimed studio albums. For fans, some songs are better and it's cool to use these tracks instead of the original ones when playing an album. If you want to listen to Cinema Show, listen to Genesis' version and Little Deceiver is forgettable.

Zitro | 3/5 |


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