I.R.S. Records

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I.R.S. Records
I.R.S. Records logo.svg
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded1979 (1979)
Founder Miles Copeland III
Jay Boberg
Carl Grasso
Defunct1996 (1996)
Distributor(s) A&M (1979–1985)
MCA (1985–1990)
EMI (1990–1996)
EMI (2011–2012)
Caroline Distribution (2013–2015)
Capitol Music Group/UMe (2015-present)
Genre New wave, rock
Country of originUnited States
Official website onamrecords.com

I.R.S. Records was an American record label founded by Miles Copeland III, Jay Boberg, and Carl Grasso in 1979. [1] I.R.S. produced some of the most popular bands of the 1980s, and was particularly known for issuing records by college rock, new wave and alternative rock artists, including R.E.M., The Go-Go's, Wall of Voodoo and Fine Young Cannibals. [2]

Miles Axe Copeland III is an American music and entertainment executive and former manager of The Police. Copeland later managed Sting's musical and acting career. In 1979, Copeland founded the I.R.S. Records label, producing R.E.M., The Bangles, Berlin, The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, The Alarm, The Go-Go's, and others.

College rock was the alternative rock music played on student-run university and college campus radio stations located in the United States and Canada in the 1980s. The stations' playlists were often created by students who avoided the mainstream rock played on commercial radio stations.

New wave is a genre encompassing numerous pop-oriented music styles popular in the late 1970s and the 1980s with ties to mid-1970s punk rock. New wave moved away from traditional blues and rock and roll sounds to create pop and rock music that incorporated disco, mod, and electronic music. Initially new wave was similar to punk rock, before becoming a distinct genre. It engendered subgenres and fusions, including synth-pop.



Miles Copeland III, the son of CIA agent Miles Copeland Jr., played many roles in the U.K. punk rock and new wave music industry of the middle to late 1970s: agent, manager, producer, magazine publisher, record company and label owner. His brother Ian was the head of a talent agency, Frontier Booking International (F.B.I.), while his brother Stewart played drums for The Police, a band that Copeland managed. The Police's first album was released on A&M Records in 1978 with a hit single, "Roxanne", that Copeland called a turning point in his life. [3]

Miles Copeland Jr. American spy

Miles Axe Copeland Jr. was an American musician, businessman, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer best known for his close personal relationship with Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his "controversial books on intelligence," including The Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics (1969) and The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA's Original Political Operative (1989). In his memoirs, Copeland recounted his involvement in numerous covert operations, including the March 1949 Syrian coup d'état and the 1953 Iranian coup d'état. A conservative influenced by the ideas of James Burnham, Copeland was associated with the American political magazine National Review. In a 1986 Rolling Stone interview, he stated, "Unlike The New York Times, Victor Marchetti and Philip Agee, my complaint has been that the CIA isn't overthrowing enough anti-American governments or assassinating enough anti-American leaders, but I guess I'm getting old."

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

Ian Adie Copeland was an American music promoter and booking agent who helped launch the new wave movement in the United States.

Building on success with the Police, Copeland convinced Jerry Moss, co-owner of A&M, to establish the I.R.S. division in 1979. I.R.S. stood for International Record Syndicate. [4]

Jerome S. Moss is an American recording executive, best known for being the co-founder of A&M Records, along with trumpeter and bandleader Herb Alpert.

From 1983 to 1987, I.R.S. Records sponsored a monthly MTV show called I.R.S. Records Presents The Cutting Edge , hosted by Peter Zaremba of The Fleshtones. The series concentrated on bands that recorded for the label. The show concept would later evolve into the alternative rock program 120 Minutes , which was launched in 1986 and co-existed with Cutting Edge for about a year and a half.

MTV American pay television channel

MTV is an American pay television channel launched on August 1, 1981 that serves as the flagship property of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom headquartered in New York City.

I.R.S. Records Presents: The Cutting Edge, also known as The Cutting Edge or IRS's The Cutting Edge, was a music program that aired on MTV (US) from March 1983 to September 1987, on the last Sunday of every month. The show was retitled The Cutting Edge Happy Hour in 1986.

The Fleshtones are an American garage rock band from Queens, New York, formed in 1976.

I.R.S. releases were distributed by A&M until 1985, then by MCA Records until 1990, and by EMI until the label folded in 1996. In 1985, Copeland brokered a deal to switch the label's distributor to MCA Records. Under the agreement, A&M continued to release the label's pre-1985 catalog, much of which still can be found under the A&M banner.

MCA Records US record label, imprint of MCA Records, Inc.

MCA Records was an American record label owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group, which the label was part of until its dissolution in 2003. The label's country division MCA Nashville is a still active imprint of Universal Music Group Nashville.

EMI British music recording and publishing company

EMI Group Limited was a British transnational conglomerate founded in March 1931 in London. At the time of its break-up in 2012, it was the fourth largest business group and record label conglomerate in the music industry, and was one of the big four record companies ; its labels included EMI Records, Parlophone, Virgin Records, and Capitol Records, which are now owned by other companies.

The Go-Go's "We Got the Beat" in 1982 and Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy" in 1989 were each at #2 on the Hot 100 during the week that Federal income taxes were due to the namesake IRS. "Crazy" was at the summit on 15 April 1989, which would have been the due date that year, except that it fell on a Saturday. Otherwise, neither The Go-Go's nor any other I.R.S. act reached the Hot 100's summit.

We Got the Beat 1982 single by The Go-Gos

"We Got the Beat" is a song recorded by the American rock band the Go-Go's. Written by the group's lead guitarist and keyboardist Charlotte Caffey, and considered to be their signature song, the band recorded the song in 1980 and it was released in July as a single in the UK on Stiff Records. The song's single release brought the Go-Go's underground credibility in the UK. The song climbed to No. 35 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart due to the popularity of the song in clubs as an import. It is considered a new wave classic hit.

She Drives Me Crazy 1988 song by Fine Young Cannibals

"She Drives Me Crazy" is a song released in 1988 by English group Fine Young Cannibals, and included on their 1989 album The Raw & the Cooked. Peaking at No. 5 on the British singles chart in January 1989, "She Drives Me Crazy" is the band's highest charting single in their native UK. The single proved an even bigger hit in the US, topping the Billboard Hot 100 on 15 April 1989, and becoming the first of two chart-topping singles for the band on this chart. "She Drives Me Crazy" also reached No.1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart, as well as in countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. It reached the top 3 on several European charts including Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland.

The label folded in May 1996, with its last release being All Set by the Buzzcocks, issued two weeks before the closure. Shortly after, Copeland formed Ark 21 Records.

In 2011, EMI revived the label; as of 2012, the new label had Chiddy Bang and Foxy Shazam on its roster. In October 2013, shortly after the integration of EMI into its successor, Universal Music Group, the label was revived again as I.R.S. Nashville, with Striking Matches, Marc Scibilia and Cowboy Jack Clement on its roster before being shut down once again in 2015. [5] [6]

Faulty Products labels

Faulty Products was the UK holding company for I.R.S. Records of the UK record labels set up by Copeland. It included Illegal Records, Deptford Fun City Records and others. Faulty Products was also an American independent record label and distribution company for other indie labels between 1980 and 1982. Faulty handled artists that didn't go through I.R.S.'s distribution deal with A&M.

Illegal Records was set up by Miles Copeland with his younger brother Stewart and the manager of The Police, Paul Mulligan. [7] The label released The Police's debut single, "Fall Out". Deptford Fun City Records was set up by Miles Copeland in the late 1970s as an outlet for Deptford, England bands such as Alternative TV and Squeeze. [7] [8]

I.R.S. No Speak, also known as No Speak Records, was set up as an all-instrumental imprint of I.R.S. in January 1988. It released albums by Stewart Copeland, Wishbone Ash, and William Orbit.

Tribal America was a label run by Rob DiStefano that was distributed by I.R.S. from 1991 until IRS folded in 1996. It concentrated on house music, a type of electronic dance music. The most prominent releases on its roster were by the production team Murk and also the song "So Get Up" an iconic vocal poem by Californian rapper Ithaka, backed by the Progressive house sounds of USL from Lisbon, Portugal. [9] DiStefano went on to found Twisted America Records.


I.R.S.'s roster of musicians included The Alarm, Bangles, Berlin, Black Sabbath, Buzzcocks, J. J. Cale, Belinda Carlisle, Concrete Blonde, Stewart Copeland, The Cramps, Dada, The Damned, Dead Kennedys, The English Beat, The Fall, The Fleshtones, General Public, The Go-Go's, The Genitorturers , hHead, Jools Holland, Klark Kent, Let's Active, The Lords of the New Church, Magazine, Gary Numan, Oingo Boingo, R.E.M., Renaissance, Scott Merritt, Stan Ridgway, Skafish, The Stranglers, Fine Young Cannibals, YEN, Wall of Voodoo, and Torch Song. [2]

Sales certifications

I.R.S. Records released three albums that have been certified as platinum or multi-platinum, for sales of over 1 million units, by the Recording Industry Association of America: Beauty and the Beat by The Go-Go's (1981), Document by R.E.M. (1987) and The Raw & the Cooked by Fine Young Cannibals (1989). [10] Seven additional albums have also been certified gold for sales of at least 500,000 copies: Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) and Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), all by R.E.M., Vacation by The Go-Go's (1982), Belinda by Belinda Carlisle (1986) and Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde (1990). [10]

I.R.S. compilation albums

On the Charts was a 1994 compilation album that chronicled I.R.S. Records from 1979 to 1994.

US releases

  1. "Our Lips Are Sealed" – The Go-Go's
  2. "Mexican Radio" [Edit] – Wall of Voodoo
  3. "Only a Lad" – Oingo Boingo
  4. "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" – Timbuk3
  5. "Save It for Later" – The English Beat
  6. "She Drives Me Crazy" – Fine Young Cannibals
  7. "Mad About You" [Single Mix] – Belinda Carlisle
  8. "Tenderness" – General Public
  9. "The One I Love" – R.E.M.
  10. "Joey" – Concrete Blonde
  11. "Rain in the Summertime" [Edit] – The Alarm
  12. "Dizz Knee Land" – Dada

UK releases

  1. "Our Lips Are Sealed" – The Go-Go's
  2. "Mexican Radio" [Edit] – Wall of Voodoo
  3. "68 Guns" – The Alarm
  4. "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" – Timbuk3
  5. "Spirit in the Sky" – Doctor and the Medics
  6. "Heartbreaker (At the End of Lonely Street)" – Dread Zeppelin
  7. "Camouflage" – Stan Ridgway
  8. "Mad About You" [Single Mix] – Belinda Carlisle
  9. "Hey, Matthew" – Karel Fialka
  10. "The One I Love" – R.E.M.
  11. "Joey" – Concrete Blonde
  12. "Holy Cow" – Jools Holland
  13. "Dizz Knee Land" – Dada

Related Research Articles

<i>Beauty and the Beat</i> (The Go-Gos album) 1981 studio album by the Go-Gos

Beauty and the Beat is the debut album from Californian new wave band the Go-Go's. Released in 1981 on the I.R.S. Records label, the album was preceded by the single and signature song "We Got the Beat", which became a club hit in Europe and, later, the United States. When the album was eventually released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks, ranking second among Billboard's Top 100 albums of 1981. The LP sold in excess of two million copies and reached double platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Critically acclaimed, it has been described as one of the "cornerstone albums of American new wave".

Belinda Carlisle American musician

Belinda Jo Carlisle is an American singer, musician, and author. She gained worldwide fame as the lead singer of the Go-Go's, one of the most successful all-female bands in history, and went on to have a prolific career as a solo artist.

Illegal Records British record label

Illegal Records was an independent record label, founded by Miles Copeland III with his younger brother Stewart Copeland and the manager of The Police, Paul Mulligan in 1977. The label released The Police's debut single, "Fall Out".

<i>Urgh! A Music War</i> 1982 film

Urgh! A Music War is a 1982 British film featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. Among the artists featured in the film are Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Magazine, The Go-Go's, Toyah Willcox, The Fleshtones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, X, XTC, Devo, The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan, Klaus Nomi, Wall of Voodoo, Pere Ubu, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, The Alley Cats, UB40, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Police. These were many of the most popular groups on the New Wave scene; in keeping with the spirit of the scene, the film also features several less famous acts, and one completely obscure group, Invisible Sex, in what appears to be their only public performance.

Johnette Napolitano is an American singer, songwriter and bassist best known as the lead vocalist/songwriter and bassist for the alternative rock group Concrete Blonde.

Dada is a three piece rock band from California. The band is made up of Michael Gurley, Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt (drums).

Bob Johnston American record producer and musician

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<i>Bangles</i> (EP) 1982 EP by The Bangles

Bangles is the eponymous first EP by The Bangles. It was released in 1982 by Faulty Products and reissued in 1983 by I.R.S. Records when Faulty Products went out of business. The songs remained widely unavailable thereafter, with only occasional rereleases of individual songs. The whole five-song EP was eventually reissued as part of the Bangles' 2014 compilation, Ladies and Gentlemen... The Bangles!.

<i>Bloodletting</i> (Concrete Blonde album) 1990 studio album by Concrete Blonde

Bloodletting is the third studio album by American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde. It was released on May 15, 1990. It marks a shift for the band towards gothic rock.

Ark 21 Records was a record label established by Miles & Stewart Copeland in 1977, based in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, United States.

Michael Gurley American musician

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Bonnie Hayes American musician

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Hit Pix 88 compilation album

Hit Pix 88 was a various artists "hits" collection album released in Australia in 1988 on the Festival/EMI record Label. The album spent 2 weeks at the top of the Australian album charts in 1988.

<i>Puzzle</i> (Dada album) 1992 studio album by dada

Puzzle is the debut album of the alternative rock group dada, released in 1992, on I.R.S. Records. The album featured the hit single "Dizz Knee Land" and sold more than half a million copies. It spent 10 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at #111. On July 13, 2004, the album was reissued with bonus tracks by Blue Cave Records.

Peter Alan Care is an English director of music videos, commercials and film. He has directed music videos for R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen, Roy Orbison, Depeche Mode and New Order, amongst others.

Henry Badowski is a British multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer, who was a member of several punk rock bands in the 1970s before embarking on a solo career.

Bruce "Ravens" Moreland is an American rock musician and songwriter. He has worked with such bands as Wall of Voodoo, The Weirdos, Nervous Gender, and Concrete Blonde among others. As of 2011, his current project is known as Ravens Moreland.

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