The Likable I.R.S.

It's tax day in America so here's an early return for anybody who wants it: a vinyl rip of the entirely essential 1981 compilation I.R.S. GREATEST HITS VOLS. 2 & 3 which has never been released on CD. I've been meaning to do this for some time, and April 15 seemed like a good excuse to finally hook up the turntable to the computer. This double-LP, which I first bought while on a family vacation in Myrtle Beach in 1985, was a formative record for me. Already familiar with I.R.S. Records through R.E.M., The Go-Gos, and General Public, and being familiar with Oingo Boingo, The Police and Squeeze — plus being priced at $5.99 for a double album — seemed like a safe bet. 

But little did I know that this album would kind of blow my young mind with tracks from then-unknowns-to-me by The Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Fall, Brian James, and The Fleshtones. I must've mowed 500 lawns listening to this and wore out the original vinyl and bought another copy. More importantly, sought out albums by the bands on the comp, which I feel turned me from a kid who liked Madness, Big Country and other new wave crossovers, into the music obsessive before you today. I've since bought this again multiple times, and basically buy every copy of it I find, and give copies away to friends. Most recently, i found a sealed copy at the Academy Annex in my neighborhood of Brooklyn, bringing my current personal total to three.

Not every song is a classic — Fashion, Skafish, and Wazmo Nariz are fondly-remembered footnotes in New Wave history — but I do love every song. Even Patrick D. Martin's novelty song "Computer Datin'." But there are also some lost gems that have never been released on CD: onetime Damned/Lords of the New Church guitarist Brian James' "Aint That a Shame"; "Jukebox" by Payola$ (whose singer, Bob Rock, would go on to produce Bon Jovi and Metallica); and Henry Badowski's organ-driven "Baby Sign Here with Me." And some are just classics, among them Buzzcocks' "You Say You Don't Love Me," The Damned's "Wait for the Blackout," and "Office Girls" by Klark Kent (aka Stewart Copeland whose brother Miles started I.R.S.).

Anyway, here it is to download.

Here's the tracklisting:

IRSGREATESTHITSVOLS2&31. Cold, Cold Shoes – The Fleshtones 2:37 
2. Ain't That A Shame – Brian James 3:30 
3. Baby Sign Here With Me – Henry Badowski 3:49 
4. Action Time Vision – Alternative TV 2:31 
5. Backtrack – Squeeze 2:19 
6. Disgracing The Family Name – Skafish 3:29 
7. Wait For The Blackout – The Damned 3:55 
8. Thrills – Klark Kent 2:15 
9. Straighten Out – The Stranglers 2:48 
10. Urban Kids – Chelsea 2:55 
11. Uranium Rock – The Cramps 2:24 
12. I Live In The City – Humans 2:15 
13. Fallout – The Police 2:01 
14. Can't Keep Away – Sector 27 3:01 
15. Memphis – John Cale 3:15 
16. Mess Around – Jools Holland 2:23 
17. Jukebox – Payola$ 2:46 
18. Rebellious Jukebox – The Fall 2:54 
19. Computer Datin' – Patrick D Martin 2:42 
20. Only A Lad – Oingo Boingo 3:31 
21. You Say You Don't Love Me – Buzzcocks 2:55 
22. Office Girls – Klark Kent 2:10 
23. Lips – Wazmo Nariz 5:24 
24. Sodium Pentathol Negative – Fashion 1:52 


I've included images of eveything but the vinyl itself: the inner liner notes, the inside gatefold, etc. There were two versions of the cover art. I included the original but attached the second, funnier version to the MP3 tags. At the end of "Sodium Pentathol Negative" you can hear someone say "That's it, let's sign 'em." I'm pretty sure is the voice of I.R.S. president Jay Boberg. As for Vol. 1, that was kind of a joke, but I.R.S. did actually make it on 10" vinyl that was included with original pressing. For more info on I.R.S. GREATEST HITS VOLS. 2 & 3 check out Mr. Bill's I.R.S. corner.* I hope you enjoy it.

In other I.R.S. news, most of the label's '80s output has been out of print for more than 10 years, but the label has started opening its vaults in digital form. The bulk is from the later half of the decade when it was sold from A&M (the good stuff), to MCA (not quite as good)… but you can get both albums by The Bears (Adrian Belew's "pop" project), Stan Ridgeway's solo debut, The Big Heat, and most of The Cramps best output. Here's what's available on Amazon.

*No, I am not Mr. Bill