In the 1980s, I.R.S. Records stood strong in niche between popular and underground culture. The label’s essential releases were accessible enough to reach the minds of the masses but also had alternative appeal for those with more discerning taste. They weren’t the only label to walk that line (see Sire, Stiff, Factory, etc), but their roster of influential artists is just about as strong as any other imprint from the period.

The Buzzcocks “Promises”

The label was founded by artist manager Miles Copeland III and friends in 1979. Copeland had previously run Illegal Records, putting out the early music of New Wave pioneers, The Police, and junk culture stalwarts, The Cramps (who would later join I.R.S.).

One of I.R.S.’s most important early signings was R.E.M.

From 1983 to 1987, I.R.S. had a monthly show on MTV called “The Cutting Edge” that featured interviews and performances from a range of established and emerging alternative artists like Lets Active, Alex Chilton and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

After a strong run in the 80s, I.R.S. began to taper off in the 90s, failing to sign new emerging acts like Green Day. The label folded in 1996, but it reopened in 2011 to put out music from Chiddy Bang and Foxy Shazam.

Check out some more videos from the I.R.S. catalog:

The Go Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed”

Lords of the New Church “Dance With Me”

The Fleshtones “Roman Gods”

Wall of Voodoo “Mexican Radio”

– Submitted by Justin Main, Music Design