I was so excited to get the MTV: The First 1000 Years four-volume series on Rhino Records. This collection is supposed to represent the New Wave, R&B, hip-hop and rock that MTV has helped popularize over the past 20 years. I was hoping for a return to MTV's heyday when there was music on MTV and the music was good.
It is the perfect gift for your young teenager or your 20- to 30-something radio junkie. Your teens will be able to sing along for the most part and possibly discover an "oldie" they'll enjoy. The older radio junkie will appreciate popular singles they listened to in college, but this set is not for the music connoisseur.
The New Wave and the hip-hop discs are the best representations of the generations, although they are missing such influential bands as the Talking Heads and the Beastie Boys. The New Wave is a good listen, including "She Blinded Me With Science," "Freedom of Choice," "Cars" and "I'll Melt With You." But, the biggest problem is mis-categorization. In trying to make four nice, neat packages, much is mislabeled (e.g., the Smiths, B-52s and Ramones dubbed "New Wave").
The hip-hop disc features instrumental rap artists dating back to 1982 with Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, Digital Underground, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Coolio and 2PAC. This disc brings back the memories. Recently, I was playing it at the office and sent a few co-workers into time warp with Tone Loc's "Wild Thing."
The rock disc is too modern, focusing on bands made big in the most recent decade and choosing offshoots (however talented) like the Foo Fighters rather than more pivotal bands like Nirvana. Also, this disc completely disregards the cock-rock bands like Poison, AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Bon Jovi, etc., that flooded MTV in the '80s, likely because they are no longer cool.
As far as the R&B disc goes, it pained me to listen to most any song in its entirety. The candy-coated harmonies of En Vogue, Brandy and Boyz II Men just aren't my thing. However, the inclusion of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" at least kept me from using the disc as a coaster. Once again, this album lacks the artists who most popularized R&B for MTV and were innovators in music -- Prince and Michael Jackson.
This collection is a nice try, but with so much music out there, and so many of the definitive bands beyond categorization, MTV and Rhino are just asking for trouble (or leaving a window for Volume 2). It's a great New Year's Eve party set because there is something for everyone, but there is also something to drive anyone mad. Fortunately, these discs are sold separately.