Flowers Of Romance - Paris

23 songs
79:23 minutes
***** ***


What would happen if Neal Stephenson and Robert Anton Wilson sat together to write a novel? It would certainly be the literary equivalent of the folk punk band Flowers Of Romance. Their music is already not only good, but also quite original in its take on combining different influences into something unique. But before we get into that, let's have a look at the unbelievable, but strangely enough completely true history of this band. It all begins with a rock'n'roll swindle, with the band claiming to be the comeback of the original Flowers Of Romance, a seminal proto-punk band that never played a concert in its life but had Sid Vicious as a band member and its name from a certain Jonny Rotten aka John Lydon who used the same one later for one of his excellent PIL albums.

In 1999, a certain Tony Blackplait (or Tonu Trubetsky, as says on his birth certificate) reformed the band with no original members left, and now on the first full-length album Paris (and what a full-length, with 23 songs making it to almost 80 minutes), he assembled a collective of anarchists around him to play original compositions and cover versions ranging from Sex Pistols (obviously), Deep Purple, Iggy & The Stooges, Claude François (Comme d'habitude in a Sid Vicious spirit, of course), Beethoven's Anthem Of Europe, The International (a strange socialist/communist choice for an anarchist band) and then some more.

Next to regular rock instruments, it's the violins, saxophones and accordions that give the music its folk spirit, and Blackplait's Leatherfacish raw vocals are a class of its own, although she shares the vocals in an egalitarian spirit with his co-musicians. The fun thing is that although this is rather lo-fi sounding stuff, it seems as if Tony Blackplait is already quite the superstar in his native Estonia, even though the collective claims to come from the disputed micronation of Sealand lying 6 miles off the shore of England. Sounds like a joke, but that "nation" really exists (I looked it up), and although there are hardly more than 5 people living there at the same time, they even have their own soccer team.

What else is notable about Flowers Of Romance? Tony Blackplait studied theatre in the Soviet Union, was an extremely good athlete and later served in the Soviet Army, became a punk in the mid-Eighties and has also already collaborated with J.M.K.E., another noteworthy and internationally well-known punk band from Estonia. He has noble ancestors, making him a part of abolished aristocracy, with anarchist backgrounds though. As interesting as this album is, the history around the band is it even more, and as Mr Blackplait is also a journalist, author (science fiction) and a movie maker, you wonder why he doesn't start making a movie about his life. I bet that would be the most surreal experience of all times. Ten points for the background story: not only that it is sounding fantastic, it is even true. The music is not yet up to that, but the eclectic range of styles should please every punk, hippie and anarchist. If there was ever a band to watch out for, its name is Flowers Of Romance.

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