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  Meet the Flower Kings (A Live Recording 2003)
Artist:  The Flower Kings
Label:  Inside Out Music America  
Length: 2 CDs/2 DVDs or 2 CDs (75.48/77.07)

Remember progressive rock (sometimes called prog rock or art rock)?  You know...long songs with intricate instrumental passages, varied and wonky time signatures, bountiful mellotrons, swirling keyboards and spacey lyrics about starships, flowers, space, peace and love.  Any fan of radio rock over the last 30 years is familiar with stellar prog greats like Yes, ELP (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and Genesis (when Peter Gabriel was the lead singer).  To my amazement I rediscovered the wonder of progressive rock (and found a thriving modern "neo-prog" rock community) thanks to this review) from Dan Singleton of the modern rock classic by Spock's Beard called Snow.  Since that time I have enjoyed delving deeply into the world of modern progressive rock (thanks Dan!). One of the first groups I was introduced to is Spock's Beard label-mates-- the Flower Kings.  I have to admit, I initially snickered at the band's name.  That is until I heard their is quite simply mind blowing.  The Flower Kings consists of a stellar lineup of some of Sweden's finest musicians (who sing in English with the occasional interesting pronunciation twist) and perform some of the most incredible fusion-laced progressive rock on the planet.  Led by multi-instrumentalist Roine (pronounced Roy-nah) Stolt, the Flower Kings have labored hard  over the last decade or so to produce some of the most ambitious and interesting progressive rock available today.

"Meet the Flower Kings-A Live Recording" is a lovingly compiled package featuring some  of the Flower King's greatest epics recorded live at the Uppsala City Theatre in an intimate setting (think VH1's Storyteller's...without the stories).  This live CD features seven cuts on two discs (remember-this is progressive music).  The centerpiece cut is "The Truth Will Set You Free"- a 31 minute tour-de-force that showcases the band in fine form with extended instrumental sections.  The performances preserved on this live recording are near perfect, with minimum overdubs and a sparkling sound that enhances the songs.  In an interview from the Inside Out Music web site  founder Stolt lists influences such as Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Chick Corea, King Crimson, Genesis and Pink Floyd- each of these can be heard in the music and yet there is an original, fresh and timeless quality present in this recording. The listener will be transported by the spiritual quality of the lyrics (ala Yes but more earthy) and the imaginative music in cuts such as "Garden of Dreams," "Humanizzimo," and the classic "Stardust We Are."

There are two versions of this product available...a double CD set and a handsomely packaged 2 DVD/CD set that features the full concert in audio and video format (both featuring over 153 thrill-packed minutes of music).  I recommend the DVD/CD combo-you WILL want to experience watching these talented multi-instrumentalist's perform these songs live. 

Barry Nothstine  12/3/2003


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