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Flower Kings, The: The Road Back Home

The Road Back Home is a two-disc compilation album put together by Flower Kings leader Roine Stolt. Not only does it feature the band's relatively more compact and "easy listening" cuts, the songs have also been treated to a new mixing job by Stolt. Add to that several newly recorded guitar solos as well as some backing vocals by Roine Stolt and Hasse Froberg. Some of the numbers have just been remixed whilst some others also feature previously unheard passages, instrumentation, and vocal parts.

The song long-time fans will want to hear the most will probably be "Little Deceiver", a leftover from the band's Rainmaker sessions. It is an interesting experiment where the tune wanders off more into Dire Straits-goes-country territory, bringing forth a true solo statement from Stolt and Froberg who are responsible for everything this song has to offer: unusual harmony vocals, cool loops and sound effects, and steady, straightforward drumming.

Also new on the CD is the band's Genesis tribute "Cinema Show", originally recorded in 1998. Being one of the greatest Genesis songs ever, Stolt says the band was rather nervous while recording it, but the result is nothing short of mindblowing. The acoustic guitar tone, the layered melodies, the awesome vocal parts, and last but not the least, Tomas Bodin's mindblowingly beautiful key solo that not only honours Tony Banks' original work but also adds its own touch to it -- everything is phenomenal about this piece. As noted in the liner notes, that solo is testimony that "great keys can be played with emotion without a trace of blues of jazz".

It would be impossible and meaningless to describe each song on this compilation. After all, they all represent a different era of the band; and they are meant to be enjoyed best in their original context. However, the little nuances brought out in the mixing stage do warrant a mention. "Cosmic Lover", for instance, features new vocal and some clarinet addition as well as a heavier focus on rhythm. This brings out the funky aesthetic and underscores the brilliant Beatles-like vocal harmony. "Stupid Girl" has a brand new guitar solo; and truth be told, I can't choose which one I like better cause the new one is truly sublime. Also, the guitar solo of "A Kings Prayer", one of the greatest Flower Kings songs ever, is different. I love how the deep message is conveyed on this one amidst glimmering acoustic guitar notes and McCartney-like vocal arrangements.

The last few minutes of "Church of Your Heart" have been cut off, and rightly so. The result is a more direct and powerful tune driven by tons of organ work by Bodin and soaring harmonies by Hasse Froberg. The African tribal rhythms merge seamlessly with a gorgeous soprano sax arrangement on "Grand Old World" whilst "Monkey Business" proves once again why everything on Unfold the Future is gold. Jonas Reingold's fretless bass, Hasse Bruniusson's percussion rhythms, and Stolt's unmistakable guitars form the musical aspect of the otherwise tragic lyrical theme. Stolt's vocal part in the intro of "The Road Back Home" has been replaced by Hasse's more fitting singing -- perhaps the best Retropolis song with its melodic hook and blazing Hammond elements.

The songs with Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlow providing backing harmonies have mostly been left untouched, such as "Starlight Man" and "Cosmic Circus", but you can still tell a remix was done on them. The somewhat cluttered soundscape layering of the former piece seems totally gone on the reworked version of "Different People" off of Stardust We Are. Unlike the original version, the piece has a stronger psychedelic centre here thanks to Stolt's meticulous remixing, and the melodious flow is more evocative. The backing voices have enhanced this cut greatly as well.

It doesn't matter whether you're a long-time fan or a new listener. Any Flower Kings fan should pick this up in a heart beat and hear these songs in their new format. If you have never heard any of Flower Kings' studio albums, on the other hand, then, depending on the songs you like the best here, you should go and pick it up impromptu. Once you're hooked, you'll want to have their entire discography anyway.

Kudos to Roine Stolt for not only compiling and remixing all these songs, but also for the detailed song-by-song analysis he offers in the liner notes. He even designed the booklet and cover art himself and added some photos as well. The packaging is superb -- it couldn't be any better.

I wish all compilation albums were this amazing.

Track Listing

Disc One

  1. Cosmic Lover
  2. A Kings Prayer
  3. Stupid Girl
  4. Cosmic Circus
  5. Babylon
  6. Paradox Hotel
  7. World Without A Heart
  8. Church of Your Heart
  9. Vox Humana
  10. What If God Is Alone
  11. Starlight Man
  12. Grand Old World
  13. The Road Back Home
  14. Cinema Show

Disc Two

  1. Ghost of the Red Cloud
  2. Painter
  3. I Am the Sun (part 2)
  4. Different People
  5. Little Deceiver
  6. Chickenfarmer Song
  7. The Rhythm of the Sea
  8. Touch My Heaven
  9. Life Will Kill You
  10. Monkey Business
  11. Compassion
  12. The Flower King
  13. Stardust We Are

Added: June 26th 2007
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: The Flower Kings website
Hits: 4036
Language: english

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