Viewed through the mists of time, it appears impossible that Texas label Probably partially due to his championing of the label after purchasing it, Rogers is often credited vaguely with "running" the label during its history, a point which he generally corroborates in the album's liner notes. He's also often blamed for the Elevators' subsequent and sundry problems, which isn't really the truth -- he wasn't even there for the label's last couple years in business. After Rogers' departure, Fred Carroll returned and Texas singer/studio man Ray Rush got involved, cutting the label's other improbable hit single -- Bubble Puppy's "Hot Smoke and Sasafrass" -- and the final Elevators album. Readers interested in a more detailed untangling of International Artists history should check out Patrick Lundborg's excellent psychedelic music site The Lama Workshop, which also includes a comprehensive IA discography.
Enough backstory: Does the music on this compilation live up to the label's legend? Well, not completely. There's no annotation, but most (if not all) of the material here was unreleased originally; a few tracks are the same titles released as singles, but I don't know if it's the same takes here.
There's about a side's worth of random rock/psych tracks, the best of which are original songs by The Chapparrals, Thursday's Children and The Emperors; and a side of unreleased blues material, including some of an interview with Lightnin' Hopkins during the sessions for his Freeform Patterns LP. The most interesting stuff is a batch of demos by the Red Crayola and a side of 13th Floor Elevators-related material. The pre-Elevators single as The Spades is here, as is a clip of a late '70s radio interview with Erickson, a radio spot for the Bull of the Woods album, and some demos.
That's the good news. The bad news is that despite the fact that Lelan Rogers theoretically had the tapes when putting this album together, the sound quality is almost universally rough, to put it mildly. And as much of this was not ever intended for release, the performances get spotty at times as well, making the compilation overall much more a historical document than a fabulous listening experience.
However, as a part of Rogers' attempt to keep the label's music available the album earns its place in the IA pantheon. Before his passing Rogers sold the label to Charly in the UK, which is currently taking on a definitive reissue program of all the label's albums. And, along with a 10-disc Elevators box set (!), there's also a three-disc compilation that finally brings many of the label's singles sides back into print for the first time in four decades. (International Artists, 1980/Get Back, 1999)