The audio equivalent of an embarrassing high school photo, Madonna: The Early Years is a collection of her earliest recordings and her first forays into dance music. However, anyone looking for songs along the lines of "Holiday" or "Lucky Star" will be sorely disappointed -- the clunky rhythms, tuneless melodies, and annoying samples on "Time to Dance," "Wild Dancing," and "On the Street" are a far cry from the caliber of work Madonna produced just a short time after these tracks were recorded. Most disappointing for fans is the fact that on several tracks, Madonna shares the vocal duties with a pretentious male singer who makes the songs impossible to listen to with a straight face. The throwaway "We Are the Gods" is probably the collection's best track because it's so silly, but nothing on Madonna: The Early Years does justice to the artist or her fans.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares