I.R.S. Records

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I.R.S. Records
I.R.S. Records logo.svg
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded 1979
Founder Miles Copeland III, Jay Boberg, Carl Grasso
Status Active
Distributor(s) A&M (1979-1985)
MCA (1985-1990)
EMI (1990-1996, 2011-2012)
Caroline Distribution (2013-Present)
Genre various
Country of origin United States

I.R.S. Records is an American independent record label, launched in the United States in 1979 by Miles Copeland III along with Jay Boberg and Carl Grasso. Miles was also the manager of Wishbone Ash, The Police (which counted Miles' brother Stewart as one of its members), and later, Sting, as well as other bands. The "I.R.S." in the title stands for International Record Syndicate (Inc.), as a play on the initialism of the Internal Revenue Service. I.R.S. was the sister label of Copeland's Illegal Records (UK).

I.R.S. releases were distributed by A&M Records until 1985, by MCA Records until 1990, and finally by EMI until the label folded in 1996. In 2011, EMI revived the label; as of 2012, the new label has Chiddy Bang and Foxy Shazam on its roster. In October 2013, shortly after the full integration of EMI within 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.[1]


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.

In 1990, the band Green Day included a letter from then-I.R.S. college radio rep Lori Blumenthal in one of their last cassette releases for Lookout Records. The letter expressed IRS' interest in signing the band to the label. A reply letter from Lookout, also included in the cassette artwork, deemed I.R.S. a "cheesy" and "washed up" record label, and they expressed their loyalty to Lookout! Records.

The last IRS release was the 1996 Buzzcocks CD All Set before it folded. Shortly after, Copeland formed Ark 21 Records.

The label was revived by EMI in 2011.[2] It currently functions as a division of Capitol Music Group under the Universal Music Group umbrella after their purchase of EMI in 2012, and is distributed by its Caroline Distribution subsidiary.[1]

Faulty Products[edit]

Faulty Products was the UK holding company for I.R.S. Records of the UK record labels set up by Miles Copeland III. 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.' distribution deal with A&M Records.

Illegal Records[edit]

Illegal Records was set up by Copeland with his younger brother Stewart and the manager of The Police, Paul Mulligan.[3] The label released The Police's debut single, "Fall Out".[4]

Deptford Fun City Records[edit]

Deptford Fun City Records was set up by Copeland in the late 1970s as an outlet for Deptford bands such as Alternative TV[5] and Squeeze.[3][6]

I.R.S. No Speak[edit]

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. The label featured some of the many talented guitarists (and a few other instrumentalists) forced into unemployment by the punk and new wave music takeover of the music industry.

Tribal America Records[edit]

Tribal America was a house-music label run by Rob DiStefano that was distributed by IRS from 1991 until IRS folded in 1996. One of the most prominent acts on its roster was the production team Murk. DiStefano went on to found Twisted America Records.

The Cutting Edge[edit]

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 focused heavily on bands that recorded for the label.


I.R.S. Records re-launched in 2011 as a joint venture between Crush Management and EMI.[7] Foxy Shazam and Chiddy Bang were its first new signings. The label became dormant once more after EMI's integration into Universal Music Group. However in 2013 a new label called I.R.S. Nashville was formed in Nashville with John Grady as president. The label is currently distributed by Caroline Distribution.[1]

On The Charts[edit]

On the Charts was a 1994 compilation album that chronicled the acts of I.R.S. Records from 1979 to 1994, featuring the following:

  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" - Timbuk 3
  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


Acts on I.R.S. included R.E.M., The Stranglers, The Buzzcocks, The Go-Gos, Bel Canto, Belinda Carlisle, Cry Wolf, Jane Wiedlin, Gary Numan, The English Beat (North America), General Public (North America), Camper Van Beethoven, The Cramps, Wall of Voodoo, Squeeze, The Animals, Wishbone Ash, Marillion (US & Canada only), Henry Badowski, Karel Fialka, Tom Robinson, Murk, Nuclear Assault, Human Switchboard, The Fleshtones, Oingo Boingo, Doctor and the Medics, Suburban Lawns, Over the Rhine, The Alarm, Skafish, John Cale, Renaissance, Sahotas, Caterwaul, Gren, Dread Zeppelin, The Surfing Brides, Show of Hands, Lords of the New Church, Fine Young Cannibals (North America), The Truth, Foxy Shazam, Chrome Molly, Black Sabbath, Let's Active, Concrete Blonde, Sea Stories, hHead, Striking Matches and Marc Scibilia.[8]

Many of these acts were also featured in Urgh! A Music War.

An instrumental-only imprint, I.R.S. No Speak, released albums by Wishbone Ash, Stewart Copeland, and William Orbit. I.R.S. also produced the feature film Shakes the Clown, which starred Bobcat Goldthwait. It released David Lynch and Alan R. Splet's soundtrack of the movie Eraserhead in the 1980s.


External links[edit]