The Flower Kings

The Road Back Home

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The idea isn't bad, the result is rather convincing, and the added incentive is enough to make The Road Back Home a worthy addition to a Flower Kings fan's collection, but do read on, because you should know what you're getting. This two-CD set is a compilation album -- a theme compilation album, in fact. The group's idea was to put together a non-threatening collection, something aficionados could spin at work, in the living room, or at a party, without getting scolded for it by colleagues, spouse, or children. Consequently, The Road Back Home culls the group's shorter and more straightforward songs. The cons to this approach: what you get is a warped, truncated view of the Flower Kings' career, missing some of their best and best-loved epics. Now for the pros: the set highlights some very good songs that were literally buried on their original albums by the pyrotechnical epics and sheer quantity of material (given that the average Flower Kings album is a two-disc, two-plus-hour endeavor). Also, all tracks have been remastered, most have been remixed, and a lot of them have even been reworked, featuring new guitar solos, or new lead vocals, or different backing vocals, etc. For many fans wondering if they really need this collection, this might be the decisive factor, more so than the one previously unreleased track ("Little Deceiver," nothing to write home about). Both discs adopt the same approach: short, punchy songs to start with, and a couple of longer (ten minutes or so) tracks tucked at the end. Recast in this different setting, songs like "Stupid Girl," "What If God Is Alone," "Painter," "Chickenfarmer Song," and "Monkey Business" get a better chance to shine, while curious newcomers are still getting a "light" exposure to the Flower Kings' proggier side through key tracks such as "The Road Back Home," "The Flower King," a nice chunk from "Stardust We Are," and the group's cover of Genesis' "Cinema Show."

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