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IRS Records was one of the giants of the post-punk era. They cultivated a roster filled with groundbreaking underground rockers, from the English Beat to R.E.M. Like most great labels, they stayed around a little too long, so their message was diluted toward the end of their life, but in their prime, they were a diverse, exceptional label. Since it sticks to the label's crossover hits, On the Charts: IRS Records 1979-1994 doesn't quite give an accurate portrait of the label's history (important bands like Let's Active never had a hit, so they're absent from this compilation), but it does have a good cross-section of the label's finest singles. In the process, it paints an accurate portrait of post-punk's evolution from new wave to alt-rock. Because it takes its subtitle seriously, the collection does contain a few duds -- dada's "Dizz Knee Land" happens to be the newest thing here, but it already sounds more dated than Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio" -- but the best moments -- the Go-Go's' "Our Lips Are Sealed," Timbuk 3's "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades," Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy," General Public's "Tenderness," R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" and the English Beat's perfect "Save It For Later" -- illustrate what a great label IRS was, which is reason enough to hear this collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine