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"Alive on Planet Earth" (InsideOut Music America)
"FlowerPower" (InsideOut Music America)

"Alive On Planet Earth" (InsideOut Music America; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Let's be clear about this right from the beginning: The Flower Kings' live two CD set "Alive On Planet Earth" is not hard rock nor is it heavy metal. The Flower Kings play progressive rock with symphonic flourishes. However, "Alive On Planet Earth" is still worthy to be included on the pages of Rough Edge because it contains many of the elements that make heavy metal such an exemplary form of art. "Alive On Planet Earth" is bold, daring, and confident - these are the qualities that make music spring alive with hope that all things are possible.

I find "Alive On Planet Earth" to my liking because it is well played, well paced, and combines the unlikely duo of the upbeat '60s/early '70s symphonic rock with the discipline and creativity of jazz. The escape velocity of the band's musical explorations is like an unending voyage of discovery.

I found The Flower Kings' live performances to be captivating and enchanting. Roine Stolt's guitar work immediately reminded me of Steve Howe (Yes), Jan Akkerman (Focus), and a little David Gilmour thrown in for good measure. However, Stolt can't do it all by himself; Stolt has plenty of help in his talented bandmates.

The first CD contains five songs recorded in 1998 during the band's tour of the United States. The third track, "The Judas Kiss," is probably the best song on the first CD due to its exploratory and experimental vibe - it's almost a companion piece to Gordian Knot's self-titled debut. A cover of Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway," which is solid if not unspectacular, says more about the band's influences than anything else.

The second CD contains six songs recorded in 1999 during the band's jaunt of Japan. "Sounds Of Violence" is a pure up-tempo instrumental rocker that flies without the weighty constraints of vocals while "In The Eyes Of The World" has some shining moments as well. The far-reaching melody of the extended jam of "The Big Puzzle" is loaded with complex shifts and musical interplay. 

Fans of Spock's Beard, Kansas, and early Genesis would be remiss if they didn't add "Alive On Planet Earth" to their CD collections. "Alive On Planet Earth" is a perfect album for those who like their music to be uplifting and full of light.

"Alive On Planet Earth" was produced by Don Azzaro. Given the typically difficult nature of live recordings one can usually be forgiving of a poor recording, but that isn't necessary here. The production is well above average (the relative lack of bombastic and distorted guitars probably made the recording process a lot easier). 

The Flower Kings are Roine Stolt on lead guitar and vocals; Hans Froberg on acoustic, electric, and slide guitar; Michael Stolt on bass, bassynth, and backing vocals; Jaime Salazar on drums, percussion, and vocals. Robert Engstrand played keyboards on disc one; Tomas Bodin played keyboards on disc two. 

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"FlowerPower" (Inside Out Music America; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

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The Flower Kings are an interesting blend of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Asia and the bands Mr. Kelter lists in his review above. They are also one of those few bands that still experiments with rock'n'roll. They are not afraid to do what others might not dare. In fact, they seem to relish it.

Subtitled "A Journey To the Hidden Corners of Your Mind," "FlowerPower" is two discs of mind-expanding music that should be listened to with headphoens for maximum effect. The musicianship hereon is exemplary - each instrument isn't so much played as made to tell a story. As if to underline this, consider the first discs 21 tracks: the first 18 of which are all "chapters" of the same story: "Garden of Dreams." Within those 18 tracks are epic melodies, flighty solos, unique musical passages. It's a smorgasboard of progressive rock. Interestingly, of the first disc's almost 70 minutes running time, tracks 19, 20 and 21 make up only nine minutes. The balance is contained in "Garden of Dreams."

Disc 2 is more of the same but seems to play it a little more "safely." That isn't to say that the second disc is any better or any worse; it just seems to be more ... well, familiar

If you're concerned about getting your money's worth with this collection, don't be. Total running time of both CDs is nearly two and half hours.

Again, it should be mentioned that The Flower Kings aren't hard rock or heavy metal but if you appreciate progressive rock and, more importantly, bands that are willing to take chances, then The Flower Kings may just be what you're looking for.

The Flower Kings: Roine Stolt on lead guitar, lead voice, keyboards; Tomas Bodin - keyboards; Hasse Froberg - voices; Michael Stolt - bassguitar; Jaime Salazar - drumkit and percussion; Hasse Bruniusson - percussion & odd voices. 

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Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 24 Oct 2021 16:10:51 -0400.