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on July 30, 2001
Here I'd just got finished remarking how the typical Flower Kings album is over an hour in length-and in this one we get more than TWO hours. It's the first of three times the Kings do a double-disc release, and if they can consistently give us this level of quality, I hope they can do it again. On the first disc, "In the Eyes Of the World" has a Tarkus-style percussive Hammond beginning that gives way to a fast shuffle within a 12/4 beat. The feel is that of Uriah Heep, even down to the vocals sounding a lot like David Byron. "Room With a View" returns us to the mood music of Focus' later material. "Just This Once" has a lot of the last albums of ELP, even down to the more down-to-earth lyrical approach of that period-the story here is conflict between lovers. Telling your beloved to shut up in a song? Well hey, Peter Gabriel did it in "Digging In the Dirt". "The Church Of Your Heart" has a definite Yes flavor about it, right down to its stately mellotron, pipe organ and lyrics about exaltation of the human spirit. Try Yes's "Awake" as an antecedent. There's not much ordinary about "Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar", an instrumental that sounds a bit like Anthony Phillips' "PP&P" fare. That guitar is joined in "The Man Who Walked With Kings" by reed-based synth sounds that give it a renaissance flavor in the beginning. But both of those are just hors d'oeuvres to the twelve-minute instrumental "Circus Brimstone", where Stolt again proves that prog instrumentals don't necessarily have to be short showcases of one member's talents. There's a pause at about seven minutes that sounds like that number's over and a new one's started-nope, it's just a sharply-drawn thematic change. The side ends with "Compassion", which sounds a bit like a mix of Gabriel and Dead Can Dance with its world music beginning courtesy of a Linn drum machine and synth pads-then crosses from that to the Yes motif.
Disc Two opens with a pipe organ solo ("Pipes Of Peace"), which then segues into "End Of Innocence", a blunt commentary on violent entertainment in which life has bargain-basement value-are we really sure those values can be left behind when the viewer goes back out into the real world? "The Merry Go Round" is more contemporary-a more Echolyn-style sound. "Don Of the Universe" is a sitar-led instrumental which otherwise sounds quite a bit like David Gilmour's solo work between the two incarnations of Pink Floyd. The possibly college radio-friendly "Different People" strikes me as being influenced a bit by Adrian Belew's interpretations of the Beatles on King Crimson's "Thrak" album. I can see that one catching hold in alt-rock circles. "Kingdom Of Lies"-hmm. It strikes me that this makes three albums so far which have had a Kansas-sounding number, in this case even including one guitar solo that sounds like it has a fiddle in the Robby Steinhardt mode playing along with it. Most likely antecedent: "Portrait (He Knew)". From there we go to a bona fide new age short piano solo-"If 28"-which sounds a lot like Scott Cossu. If Stolt had sung "Ghost Of the Red Cloud" in a Jamaican accent, it would have been easy to mistake it for a Ziggy Marley tune. I tell you, the Kings' versatility just continues to blossom. The album rounds out with the title compostion, a three-part twenty-five minute work that was the band's magnum opus at this point. It appears that the Flower Kings emulate Yes the most in their really long tracks, and thus far in their catalog there's at least one song over ten minutes long on each album. The closest antecedent I can see is Yes' "Close To the Edge", even down to the quiet semi-ambient middle section, but the piano work is more like "Awake". The number of stylistic bases Roine Stolt covers shows more than just his talent-it shows an all-abiding love of music.
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on July 24, 2013
I've been listening to Stardust We Are for only 2 days and I am stunned by how good it is. Since the early 70's I have been way into progressive, immersing myself during those years with Yes, Genesis, ELP, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and others - almost the entire catalogue of those mentioned here. I became aware of neoprog only in the last 4 years or so, finding reviews of old prog mentioning Spock's Beard. I loved them (at least the 6 ones via Neil Morse) and from there went to Transatlantic, who I also loved, and from there to some solo Neil Morse (yes, I know he's pretty religious, but at least half of his material is excellent prog) and of course in all reviews there was mention of The Flower Kings.
I have to say, if you are a fan of any form of prog, you must have this album in your collection. I hear they have many other good ones, but this one is absolutely fantastic.
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on April 9, 2012
I can count myself among those who experienced the first wave of progressive rock that took the world by storm in the good old 1970's. Yes, ELP, early-period Genesis, Focus, Gentle Giant and the mighty Jethro Tull jockeyed constantly for a go-round on my turntable along with many others. My favorite was a bit closer to home, Philly's own Todd Rundgren (I'm from nearby Reading) and his Todd elpee in particular. Way back when I had christened it my all-time favorite record. Well, many years have passed ("since your vision came to me")and I had stayed true to my word. I even travelled from Virginia to Philly to see the master perform the Todd record in it's entirety in 2010 and thought I had my pick totally justified. But then something strange happened. Well, it began when I first heard music on the internet back in 2005. I found a station on AOL that played prog and began listening intently. Now I was able to hear the new wave of prog that was popping up. I heard Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Jordan Rudess and others and I liked them all. But the unquestioned kings of the new movement was, of course, Sweden's own The Flower Kings and I realized it when I first began hearing their stuff. Along with "Last Minute on Earth", "I Am The Sun parts 1 & 2" and "The Flower King" came what I began to believe was a new masterwork, the epic title track of what I feel is their finest release "Stardust W Are". That track alone is worth the price of the entire 2 cd set. I only regret that I came along so late to the party. The rest of both discs are as entertaining as progressive music has ever gotten. Starting fast with "In The Eyes Of The World" the crack musicians of this outfit, led by the mastermind Roine' Stolt, prove again and again why they have ascended to the mantle of being the best active prog/neo-prog band out there. I finally got around to downloading Stardust onto my laptop while I was in Afghanistan in 2009 and let me tell you, no other recording helped me get through being in a war more than this one. My favorite tracks are "Different People" (it leaves me grinning from ear to ear), "Don Of The Universe" (a hypnotic instrumental reworking of the Stardust melody) and of course the title track. However, I won't throw any of the songs on here out of my head. They're all terrific and it's all so great that it's done what I would have thought impossible not so long ago. It has replaced Todd at the top of my list and it has become the one album (if I had to pick only one) I would be happy to have to listen to on a desert island. Simply astonishing!
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on October 19, 2002
I was 'turned on' to Roine Stolt and the Flower Kings thanks to the 'Transatlanic' project. And what a FIND this band has been. I love this CD set, as well as their other masterpiece "Retropolis". I must admit, parts of this are kind of weird or silly (not sure if it is cultural or not, being that the FK's are swedish), however this is soon forgotten when the music kicks in. How I would describe this CD? It is the taking myself back to the days when prog-rock first came out - like the days of when you remember the first time you heard Yes, Uriah Heep or ELP - lets add some zest and some of today's other influences, and there you have it - the Flower Kings. They are magic.
For all the progressive rock fans that think beyond Dream Theater, you MUST check these guys out! Despite the rather funny name, these guys are SERIOUS progressive rock musicians that are due for their day in the sun.
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on April 15, 2013
Please do not judge this album by some of the negative reviews given by some progressive music fans. The prog community is hard to please. Many complaint about a couple of filler songs. Love this album including the fillers. This album with fillers included is far better than the work being put together by many bands these days. I find this album to be a master piece and a must have for prog fans.
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on January 21, 2011
I never heard of the Flower Kings before I heard them on Deep Tracks channel on XM radio.

I couldn't remember the name of the song from the radio. All I know is that I thought the band sound like Yes without Jon Anderson, maybe King Crimson, maybe a bit Emerson Lake and Palmer, and maybe also some of the Dutch rock band Focus. Definitely Rick Wakeman must have influenced these guys.

I went to Amazon and listened to some tracks and gave this album a whirl. I'm glad I bought.

Loved it! Especially disc 1. It goes from rockin' prog rock "In the Eyes of the World" (Pronounced "Ice" by these Swedish singers) with cool lead guitar part towards the end of the song, to mellow filler, to an inspiring song "Church of the Heart", to the intense, then the whimsical and and on to the LSD (or 'shroom?) induced. I'm convinced Cousin It from the Adams Family contributed to the vocals on track 7, "Circus Brimstone" on disc one.

Disc 2 I like less, there's filler but it's still good music.

I enjoy this music right before going to the gym or I want to get pepped up or get in focus. The melodies do stay in your mind.

These guys are excellent musicians. There are some inspiring moments here. Vocals could be better but the music is excellent.

I like the group and I'm planning on buying more of their recordings. I'm still looking for the song I heard on the radio.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2012
I actually enjoyed this two-disc set and found their signature blend of symphonic pop and stadium rock to work pretty well. Overall, I enjoyed this 1997 release just as much as albums by Kansas, Styx, Supertramp, and 1980s period Marillion (the groups that the Flower Kings are stylistically closest to).

The tunes on the album range from short instrumental tracks to lengthier tracks comprised of several unrelated bits and pieces. The longest of the lengthy tracks is about 25 minutes. The music blends aspects of stadium rock, including riffs played in unison on bass/guitar/keyboards, with the symphonic fullness of the British symphonic pop groups like Supertramp. The pop melodies are very nice, although I did not care for the vocal delivery or the lyrics, which are pretty bad. I also enjoyed the shorter instrumental tracks on the album (especially the keyboard solo pieces and the acoustic guitar track), along with the spacey, atmospheric passages. The Flower Kings are really good at the spacey, atmospheric stuff.

The players are all solid and the ensemble work is pretty good, although I wish more risks had been taken with respect to arrangements - most of the music is in 4/4 and is very safe. Then again, I listen to enough wild stuff that is nice to settle down every once in a while.

This two-disc set is a bit long - Stardust We Are could easily have been whittled down to 45 minutes. The sound quality is excellent and the CD booklet is in color and features the lyrics/production credits, along with arty photos of the group members.

All in all, this is an enjoyable album that sits comfortably alongside albums by Kansas, Styx, Supertramp, and neo-progressive groups such as Marillion and Spocks Beard. Recommended along with Space Revolver (2000).
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on October 26, 2000
WOW. Having been a Dream Theater fan for many years, I got turned on to Roine Stolt and the FKs through the recent Transatlantic CD (which I heartily recommend primarily for the 30 minute epic first cut "All of the Above). I am surprised that the FKs haven't quite made the big time. Stardust We Are is filled with incredible songwriting, virtuoso instrumental performances, and majestic tunes. Much more varied than DT, but with less of a metal edge. Like King Crimson, I think this band really shines live (the live versions of several of the tunes are better than the original studio versions IMO). SWA is consistently excellent throughout, unlike Space Revolver. While SR had several great tunes, many of the tunes didn't really do it for me. The FKs have obvious Yes, Genesis, ELP, and King Crimson influences, but instead of ripping these bands off, they have managed to meld each style into something completely new. On SWA, the Crimson influence is evident (e.g. Circus Brimstone) reminding me of the awesome Bruford/Wetton/Fripp line-up. The album is a mix of uplifting and very dark music; that they can actually remember each section of the complex tunes and actually perform them is a minor miracle. I heartily recommend this double CD to any prog-rock fan, as well as "Alive on Planet Earth." It's a must have. A true gem.
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on May 22, 2003
the song EPIC song STARDUST WE ARE on this release of the same name is just incredible. I love listening to it. ALl the other songs on this release are great to, not one weak one, but this one grabs me. This song is the CLOSE TO THE EDGE for the FK.
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on December 10, 2001
Maybe Flower Kings is a cool name in Sweden but it's not here :-) I get some serious laughs from my friends whenever I recommend this CD. This is great stuff. I listen to a wide variety of music and this is among my favorites. It is not offensive to anyone. You can turn it on to relax or play it in the background during a date. That's right. . .even women will enjoy this.
Seriously, this CD contains more originality then most bands muster in a lifetime. Yet, it is not disjointed and difficult listening like some other prog CDs. I also recommend Retropolis and Flower Power. You will not be disappointed!
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