Various Artists

I Want My 80's Box

  • AllMusic Rating
    6
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Released more or less in conjunction with MTV's 20th anniversary in 2001, this triple gatefold sleeve set (not a box as the title implies), with an appropriately gaudy 27-page book, delivers 42 typical examples of songs associated with the music channel in its fledgling years. With 35 Top Ten tracks, ten of which topped the charts, there's no shortage of video as well as radio memories incorporated into these three loosely chronologically arranged discs. Like many Hip-O releases, this favors music already owned by the Universal conglomerate. As such, some early MTV staples like Men at Work, Cyndi Lauper, and especially Duran Duran are MIA. Although their omission doesn't make this a substantially weaker set to the casual fan, more zealous listeners might notice the gaps. Covering the years from the network's sign-on during the afternoon of August 1, 1981 (with the Buggles' now classic "Video Killed the Radio Star"), until 1986, the collection gravitates to the slicker pop/new wave/R&B end of the scale, sacrificing edgier acts like the Clash, Stray Cats, and Prince, who were just as important to its early growth. Overall, the track list speaks for itself. The discs max out time-wise at a relatively conservative hour each, sticking firmly to a self-imposed 14-track limit, leaving at least 45 minutes of unused time across the triple album. Although the songs are sequenced to best blend into each other (synth pop standbys Eurythmics, a-ha, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and the Fixx are positioned together on disc two), the mood sometimes wildly shifts direction. Disc three includes Suzanne Vega's plaintive, folksy "Luka," Yello's jittery high-tech "Oh Yeah," and Tiffany's brittle, ear-wincing version of "I Think We're Alone Now." Aside from sentimental value, it's difficult to imagine anyone would want to hear all three within the same 15-minute time span. But, nostalgia is what this is all about. Ultimately, this is a representative enough sampling bound to elicit knowing grins and fond memories at your next '80s party from now-aging boomers who remember the good ol' days when MTV actually aired videos. It'll jolt them back to the time these songs ruled the cable waves, for better or worse creating an indelible mark on their musical upbringing.

blue highlight denotes track pick