Has it been 20 years already? I guess so. Starting a couple years after I was born, MTV has undoubtedly caused a revolution not only in the way that music is marketed to a mass audience, but its visual style has been constantly refered to when discussing the heavily edited style that most entertainment for the "MTV Generation" is provided with.
To celebrate this anniversary, Image Entertainment is releasing a 4 disc set highlighting some of the most popular videos in four different genres. Looking at the first disc ("Rock"), I was pleased to find some of my favorite bands - I'm glad that those responsible for the selection decided to go with some artists that weren't quite as mainstream. For those who have read this site frequently, you'll know that one of my favorite genres of music is Ska - and that's represented here with "The Impression That I Get" from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and "Here In Your Bedroom" from Goldfinger.
Elsewhere, there's one of the weirdest and most original videos I've seen on the network from Primus ("Wynona's Big Brown Beaver") that has the band dressing up as country band, complete with "follow-the-bouncing-ball" lyrics. There's also a few new-school groups represented, such as Blink 182; I've never really been a fan of them, but their parody of boy bands in "All The Small Things" is always amusing. There's a bit of a mixture of rock genres represented over the rest of the disc, from classic rock (Aerosmith) to folk rock (Counting Crows and Blues Traveler) to 80's rock (and we all know how scary those music videos can be) from The Cult. The only element that some might object to is that some of these are the same edited version of the video that was presented on MTV (for example, the Primus video).
Songs: Addicted to Love (Robert Palmer), Firewoman (The Cult), Higher Ground (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Right Here Right Now (Jesus Jones), Livin' on the Edge (Aerosmith), Round Here (Counting Crows), Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden), Run-Around (Blues Traveler), Wynonna's Big Brown Beaver (Primus), Santa Monica (Everclear), Here in Your Bedroom (Goldfinger), The Impression That I Get (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones), Space Lord (Monster Magnet), Never There (Cake), All the Small Things (Blink-182), Voodoo (Godsmack).
The 4 DVD MTV 20 Set is available for a retail price of $59.99. The three main discs (Rock, Pop, Jams) are available separately, but if you buy the full set, there is an extra disc of "Beats" videos, including artists like Moby and Chemical Brothers.
VIDEO: Going into this review, I would think that the video quality would follow what I usually see from old/new compilations like these - namely, the older videos display some problems and come up lacking in comparison to the look of the newer videos. That's not entirely the case here, though. The first video, Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love", for example, looks better than I've seen it look in years. Sharpness and detail are stellar, and the bold red colors in the background bounce off the screen. The majority of the videos are presented in full_frame except for one or two that are letterboxed (Counting Crows - "Around Here", for example).
I saw few examples of problems throughout the videos. A couple seemed lightly grainy or had a few stray print flaws ("Round Here"), but other than that, it either appears that an effort has been made to have to present these videos in a consistently high quality across the entire program or MTV has really taken care of some of the older videos very well because I was pleased and suprised with the majority of what I saw.
SOUND: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (more on that in a moment), I was generally pleased with the audio presentation, which was consistent throughout the entire program. Although some of the older videos didn't quite have the same dynamic sound quality that the newer videos provided, the way that the videos were remixed was simple and effective. The music is spread out mainly across the front two speakers (the sound is actually 4.1), the surrounds offer a very nice re-inforcement of the music without simply blasting the same thing as the fronts, allowing the viewer to feel more enveloped by the mix than having the music come from all sides at once.
MENUS:: First, look for a funny "MTV-ized" version of the FBI Warning that Image usually presents before the main menu. The main menu itself is lightly animated, with music in the background.
EXTRAS:: "Fast Facts" is a feature that can be turned on or off - much like "Pop Up Video" it provides little factoids about the band occasionally during the videos. It seemed to pop up rather infrequently, but offered some interesting tidbits when it did. Also included are artist profiles and discographies as well as some of the more creative MTV commericals that have aired over the years.
Final Thoughts: I was pleased to see that the "Rock" edition of this DVD set provided a nice mixture of the mainsteam and the not-so-mainstream from different aspects of the genre. Audio/video quality is quite pleasing and although some may want to pick up the full set with the extra disc, those who are just interested in "Rock" can find this disc available for $19.99 or less at most stores. Recommended.