It may be hard to get beyond the title of Rhino's series MTV the First 1000 Years, which just may be the dumbest title in the first 1000 years of the recording industry, but the actual discs aren't bad at all. For instance, the Rock volume is a good collection of alternative and modern rock hits mostly from the '90s. True, the compilation gives the impression that the only rock & roll MTV played was alternative, which just isn't true -- it was impossible to escape pop-metal on the network in the years before Nirvana, although songs like REM's "Orange Crush," the Cult's "Fire Woman," and Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing" (all included here) did sneak through. Still, historical nitpicking is pointless with a collection like this, which isn't supposed to be a document, it's supposed to be a good listen. And it is. The Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket" might sound a little out of place, since it's the only thing here recorded before 1988, but it's a classic, just like such Rock highlights as "Devil's Haircut," "Stupid Girl," "Santa Monica," "Hey Jealousy," "Cannonball," and "Epic." The rest of the album may not quite live up to classic status, but most are very good ("I'll Stick Around," "Round Here," "Right Here, Right Now," and "New Sensation," among them) and help make this a good collection. And since, as of 1999, there aren't too many compilations that cover this ground, it's nice to have something like this on the market.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine