ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Roine Stolt - 2005 - "Wall Street Voodoo"

(115 min 2CD, Inside Out)


Prolusion. Roine STOLT began his Progressive Rock career with Kaipa in the 1970s, but is probably best known for his work with The Flower Kings, which sprang from his 1994 solo album, "The Flower King". The Flower Kings have had 11 albums, numerous special edition releases and various bootlegs. Besides "The Flower King", Stolt also released "Hydrophonia," an instrumental album in 1998. And of course, Roine is one of the fantastic for which comprised Transatlantic.

Disc I (61 min)


 1.  The Observer 11:05
 2.  Head Above Water 5:25
 3.  Dirt 8:15
 4.  Everyone Wants To Rule The World 4:05
 5.  Spirit Of The Rebel 6:10
 6.  Unforgiven 3:00
 7.  Dog With A Million Bones 8:10
 8.  Sex Kills 7:20
 9.  Outcast 7:50  


Roine Stolt - vocals, electric & acoustic guitar
Neal Morse - vocals; organ 
Slim Pothead - keyboards
Victor Woof - bass
Marcus Lillequist - drums 
Gonzo Geffen - percussion
Hasse Bruinisson - percussion 

Analysis. "Wall Street Voodoo" is a departure from the sort of music that Roine has been making for the past number of years and he states that he wanted to make an album of songs that harkened to the day in which he first began listening to rock and the blues. He has done just that. Yes, this is still the flower king, himself. You can take Roine out of the Flower Kings, but you can't take the Flower Kings out of Roine. Whatever do I mean you ask? Well, simply, this is definitely a move away from progressive rock, but there are still some of those elements present, which distinguish The Flower Kings from other bands, certain sounds and tonalities. The Observer is written from the supposed vantage point of an angel who has been watching the events on Earth. It'll probably come as no surprise that the angel is pretty non-plussed what he sees. Lyrically, The Observer sets the tone for this 2-disk set, which tends to be darker and more political than earlier works. Musically, lovers of late 60s and early 70s rock are in for a treat. This is no retro album, but new rock heavily seasoned by the bygone era. Head Above Water, which is sung by Neal Morse, has a definite James Gang groove, but still sounds now. There's an excellent Hammond B3 solo toward the end of this track. This, Everyone Wants to Rule the World and Unforgiven are the highlights on disk one. EwtRtW could have easily been used on a Transatlantic album, with kind of a Beatle-esque mood & very hooky refrain and harmonies. Roine heads into the Blues on Dirt, Spirit of the Rebel, Dog With a Million Bones and Outcast on Disk 1. The sound may conjure up brief thoughts of The Allman Brothers Band or Eric Clapton. However, Roine sings most of the lead vocals, so there is no denying who you're listening to, as he has such a distinctive voice himself. Dog With a Million Bones is also in the Blues realm, but think of the sort of bluesy sound that Deep Purple would have done. There's also that funky xylophone sound that shows up in many Flower Kings songs, though, too. Dog With a Million Bones is an indictment of materialism:

"I'm not impressed with all your high-tech gadgets
Blind to the pricetag, in this collective madness
You may have the will but do you have the guts
To turn around your life and be a better man?"
Sex sells and Sex Kills, so go the lyrics in Roine's cover of this Joni Mitchell song, which is another opus about social injustice. Much of the album has him sounding like a prophet in the wilderness crying out against the excesses of the day. However, lest you think Roine's found religion, in Outcast he makes it clear that he doesn't put his faith in anything beyond this world. Musically, this is one of my favorites on the first disk. Outcast has a very live vibe to it, with a moment or two of the musicians noodling around before the beat starts and the soulful guitar begins crying. There's a lot of wailing guitar. Has Roine been hanging with BB? Roine's voice is very soft, as are the background vocalizations. Slim Pothead turns in some nice turns at both the Fender Rhodes and Hammond. Those are classic sounds, for sure.

Disc 2 (54 min)


 1.  The Unwanted 9:00
 2.  Remember 6:55
 3.  It's All About Money 8:05
 4.  Everybody Is Trying To Sell You Something 6:55
 5.  Hotrod 9:10
 6.  Mercy 2:40
 7.  People That Have The Power To Shape The Future 11:05

Lineup: same

Analysis. Disk Two opens with The Unwanted, another blues tune, but I'd have to say this one is indeed unwanted. If I weren't in review mode, this would be a skipper, as it's weak on melody and long on Roine's processed voice. Throughout "Voodoo", when he's playing the blues, it's good instrumentally, but vocally it's rather academic, lacking passion. The songs on the second disk are mostly just more of the same. Mercy is the shortest and simplest. It is just acoustic guitar and voice. These are some of the bluesiest lyrics on the entire album, but the guitar is very restrained. There is no mournful guitar lead, no slide guitar wailing, as though the background chords were laid down, but the lead omitted. There is no doubt, though, he's singing the blues here:

I've been hurting, never shown those tears
Tryin' to keep up, reeling down the years
Guess I signed up for some pointless game
What a wasted card, who to blame?
Who to blame?
I've been searching for my sacred place 
not yet found it, now it's getting late 
All this falling down, no control
God if you exist, have mercy on my soul!!!
Have mercy on my soul!
These ARE the blues, but why did Roine have to go and use effects on his voice? The guitar is clear and live in its sound, but the vocal sounds as if it were being played through some dinky tin can of a speaker. If ever there was a place for Roine to leave the effects at home, this was it. After all the decrying societies ills, the album closes on a hopeful note, People That Have The Power To Shape The Future, sounding more like the Flower King we've come to know and love. This one could easily fit onto an FK album. "People have the power to shape the future, the power of a nation is the will power of the people."

Conclusion. If you're simply a Roine Stolt fan, you'll want this. Lovers of prog be forewarned, this is a trip into straight rock and blues, though there are certainly elements of proggishness mixed in, but nothing progressive overall. I'd have preferred it if someone had trimmed the fat and left the lean stuff. For one thing, there is simply too much of Roine's singing. It's a combination factors, the lyrics and Roine's overuse of effects on his voice. For lovers of social critique, the lyrics may appeal, but nearly 2 hours of it is more than I care to sit through. (also, for those with an aversion to profanity, there's a smattering of crude language, but it is minimal) With some albums, the lyrics are almost incidental, but on "Voodoo", they're central, to the detriment of the music, as there are too few compelling melodies. It all begins to sound alike and becomes tedious long before the end of the second disk.

KW: December 13 & 14, 2005

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