Flower Kings, The - Alive On Planet Earth

Year of Release: 2000
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD054/SPV 089-31862DCD
Format: CD
Total Time: 113:56:00

It has to be said that guitarist Roine Stolt started a second life after Kaipa, once he put the Flower Kings together. The band releases superb albums one after the other, promoting them by lengthy tours all over the world. It also has to be said, however, that the Flower Kings have the reputation of either delivering superb concerts, but, alas, also some very bad ones. In fact, it all depends on whether they have had any opportunity at all to rehearse or not. I remember seeing them once where they had to start a song three times in a row because the band obviously forgot how the song really went.

No problems like this on this brand new live double album, Alive On Planet Earth. One disc is filled with material recorded during the band's North American tour in 1998, whilst the second disc dates from last year's Japanese tour. So obviously you'll find different material here which has been superbly produced by the almighty Don Azzaro! The American material is a real treat for visitors of ProgDay, as part of it was recorded during this festival on September 6th, 1998, whilst the rest of the North American material dates from September 11th and 12th, when the band visited Quebec City in Canada. One of the absolute trademarks of the Flower Kings is the fact that they can really improvise and I mean IMPROVISE! Of course the nucleus of the song remains, but the band can really add a total new dimension to the music. A song like "The Judas Kiss," which clocks in at 7:43 on the original Retropolis album, goes on and on, introducing new finds, highlighting various keyboard and percussive interventions in order to call it a day after a mere 15:43! That's more than double the time! The song starts off with some ace church organ sounds courtesy of Robert Engstrand, and there's constant interaction between all of the instruments resulting in some jazzy improvisation. World class! I also have to comment on the wonderful clear mix and the 'dry' powerful drum sound of Jaime Salazar which sounds as if the man is performing inside your own house! "There Is More To The World" truly sounds a lot like Yes, especially when a Steve Howe-like guitar intertwines with superb keyboard work and when some superb vocal harmonies and Anderson-like singing are placed on top of some slide guitar. Again I have to admit that Roine's voice sometimes is reminiscent of John Wetton's superb vocal output, yet a little bit higher in tone, but still very refreshing to hear, such as in the great "Church Of Your Heart."

Disc one ends with a surprise in the form of a smoking version of the Genesis classic "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway."

The Japanese material was recorded in Tokyo on 15th and 16th of March 1999 and in Osaka on March 18th, this time with Tomas Bodin taking the keyboard slot. Not only does it contain two solo songs from Roine Stolt's acclaimed The Flower King album but also a short(er) version of "Three Stories" from Tomas Bodin's solo album An Ordinary Night In My Ordinary Life. One of my favourites here has to be the nice flow of "Big puzzle," which once again is 5 minutes longer than its studio version, and proves once again what a splendid band this really is. Especially the change towards laid-back blues is of extremely high quality and illustrates the craftsmanship of Stolt and company. I love the organ throughout the massive "Sounds Of Violence" and also note the outrageous, wild drumming of Jaime who sounds like Portnoy and D' Virgilio combined! The blues effect creeps back in during "The Flower King," probably the song that set Roine Stolt thinking and made him decide to form a real band as opposed to run a project.

The album closes in true style with the mighty symphonic "Stardust We Are - Part Three," which again shows us many Yes elements and the bluesy approach of Stolt hammering Howe/Holdsworth/Latimer and Zappa all into one! Together with Spock's Beard and Porcupine Tree, Flower Kings certainly are the Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes of the new millennium. Now how about an album with a full orchestra as a next project?

Disc 1: There Is More To This World (11:31) / Church Of Your Heart (9:41) / The Judas Kiss (15:43) / Nothing New Under The Sun (4:13) / The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (9:17)

Disc 2 : Big Puzzle (18:29) / Sounds Of Violence (6:37) / Three Stories (6:04) / In The Eyes Of The World (12:14) / The Flower King (11:27) / Stardust We Are Part Three (10:00)

Roine Stolt - lead guitar and vocals
Hans Fröberg - acoustic, electric and slide guitar, and vocals
Robert Engstrand - keyboards on disc one
Tomas Bodin - keyboards on disc two
Michael Stolt - bass, bass-synth, and vocals
Jaime Salazar - drums, percussion, and vocals

Roine Stolt - The Flower King (1994/2001/2004)
Back In The World Of Adventures (1995)
Retropolis (1996)
Stardust We Are (1997/2000)
Scanning The Greenhouse (comp) (1998)
Edition Limitée Quebec (1998) (only 700 copies!)
Flower Power (1999)
TFK fanclub disc (2000) (free CD exclusive to fanclub members only)
Alive On Planet Earth (2000)
Space Revolver (2000)
Space Revolver Special Edition (2CD set) (2000)
The Rainmaker (2001)
The Rainmaker - Special Edition (2001)
Unfold The Future (2002)
Live In New York: Official Bootleg (2002)
Fan Club CD 2002 (2002)
Fan Club CD 2004 (2004)
Adam & Eve (2004)
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid (2004)
Harvest (fan club CD) (2005)
Paradox Hotel (2006)
The Road Back Home (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (Special Edition) (2007)
Banks Of Eden (2012)

Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording (DVD) (2003)
Instant Delivery (DVD) (2006)
Instant Delivery - Limited Edition (2CD/2DVD) (2006)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin SE

Added: January 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.flowerkings.se
Hits: 977
Language: english


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