Possibly left without a record contract, working without a manager, living in self-imposed exile, Morrissey returned to what he knew best in the fall of 1998 -- recycling his own material. My Early Burglary Years was released under the pretense of offering American-audiences songs, such as "Sunny," previously unavailable on U.S. shores -- which is kind of ridiculous, since anyone still buying Morrissey records in 1998 likely buys every single, regardless of their country of origin. That leaves My Early Burglary Years as another odd collection of rarities, singles, and album tracks. There are undoubtedly some fans who haven't bought every single, but this disc won't necessarily help them, since the rarities are mixed in with familiar material. That said, My Early Burglary Years is a better bit for lapsed collectors looking to pick up some rare songs than World of Morrissey, since it has such non-LP items as the entire "Sunny" single and "Cosmic Dancer" (which is a previously released version, contrary to the cover sticker's claims) that have never appeared on a comp or as bonus tracks. It's not quite enough to excuse the repeat appearances of the seemingly ubiquitous "Sister I'm a Poet" and "Jack the Ripper" (as well as album tracks from Southpaw Grammar), or the lack of a comprehensive B-sides and rarities collection, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine