, by the Revolutionary Ensemble
. They had signed the nearest thing to a major label deal, with John Snyder's Horizon Records, a jazz
label licensed by A&M
. The album cover
was slightly reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
, with a vast collage of face
s taken from advertising
, news photos, and National Geographic
, perhaps; the three band members were in there somewhere towards the bottom of the cover - if you didn't know who they were, you might not have noticed. Equal exposure in the collage to both First World and Third World
Snyder thought the packaging was important; he wanted the designs to rival those of rock LPs. Horizon was presenting the best music in the world, and he insisted on a world-class presentation of it, both aurally and visually. So it was great, in those days, to have the RE or an Ornette Coleman get the dee-luxe treatment instead of what they might have gotten from the indie labels of the day.
Highlights included "New York", one of the great "geographic ballads" the group did over the years, driven by Leroy Jenkins' sinewy violin, and "Chinese Rock" (not a Johnny Thunders thing), an improvisation built around a continuous 4/4 "rock" pulse, unusual for the RE. The inside of the gatefold cover included images of some of the original lead sheets used in the recording, misspellings and all; you could see the three-note "Air", "Fire", and "Water" motifs for "Ponderous Planets", as well as a graph showing who was playing what instrument at what time during the piece.
The recording and the packaging were dee-luxe, but sales weren't. The group broke up, finishing with a live farewell recording, released by West Germany's Enja Records. A small indie in NYC, Inner City Records, would eventually get around to selling it in North America, as part of a licensing deal with Enja. Snyder, after the A&M deal expired, started Artists House, this time without a fickle major-label partner.
"The People's Republic" is also a tongue-in-cheek name attached to "liberal" locales. Some people don't seem to get the joke, associating it with the ongoing atrocity that is China, but keep in mind that the entire Third World was full of instant "People's Republic of Foo" and "Democratic Republic of Bar" and combinations of both, like "People's Democratic Republic..." and "Democratic People's Republic..." One should be reminded just as much of inept, low-rent dictators who wouldn't harm a flea, but still did harm to their nations. It's a joke, son. Just be thankful you didn't have to live in a place that really was called "The Democratic People's Republic of" Something.
See also: The People's Republic of Berkeley, The People's Republic of Davis, People's Republic of Cambridge, People's Republic of Massachussetts, and Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican:r2. It's a joke, son. Now laugh, you imperialist running-dog lackey of the ousted bourgeoisie!