OK, OK, it has no Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Prince or Madonna. Get over it. One, there's no hope in hell that those artists' record companies would let them on a compilation like this. And two, if you're even thinking about buying this set and you don't own at least three CD's from each of those artists, you're warped. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
On the positive side, you probably don't have albums by Trio, Thomas Dolby, or Billy Crystal, to name just three. And tracks by those 3 artists, amongst over a hundred others will bring you back over twenty years within a few notes.
As they did with the "Have A Nice Decade" 70's box set, Rhino has again produced an eclectic amalgam of multi-format music of a decade, mixing #1 hits with almost obscure novelties. Where else will you get Pete Townshend of the Who on the same CD as rapper Kurtis Blow? Each CD has more variety than any US radio station.
The concentration in the box set is clearly on top 40 material. Fair enough, since Rhino has already put out the "Just Can't Get Enough" series for people whose tastes favoured The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, REM, New Order etc. for those with more eccentric tastes.
Two things become apparent in retrospective looking back at music of the 80's.
One is how quickly video took off (to paraphrase Bob & Doug McKenzie). The first 2 CD's are pre-MTV, the last 5 after it started, and suddenly looks were as (or rather more) important than music. ("Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles - the frist ever MTV video - is included, although it was released in late 1979.) Could A-Ha or Duran Duran or Stray Cats have made it big in America in the pre-video era? Unlikely.
Two, and certainly related, look at how many non-US acts appear at the start of the video era. The first 2 (pre-MTV) CDs contain only 7 out of 41 non-US acts, and that grouo includes Bob & Doug, Rick Springfield and Billy Idol. CD-3 has 14 out of 21 foreign acts. Why? US record companies were about 18 months behind in the video revolution.
By CD 4 the numbers are about even (9 US, 11 foreign), and by CD 5 (circa 1986) US music has clearly recovered. At decade ends, the big US hitmakers included New Kids on the Block, Richard Marx, and Bobby McFerrin. Kinda makes you long for Culture Club and The Eurythmics, eh?
So treat the thirtysomething significant other in your life and get them this collection, or splurge and get it for yourself. Either way, you'll be glad you did.
And don't worry. Be happy.