Bona Drag


Sire / Reprise Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Being suicidal never felt so good...

After the implosion of The Smiths in the mid-'80s, members of the band started to filter off into their own side projects. While Johnny Marr ended up with Electronica and The The, lead singer Morrissey, probably not to anyone's surprise, kicked off his own solo career. What might surprise some people is that his first solo effort, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Bona Drag, contains some of the best material he's ever been associated with.

Oh, he's no happier than he was in his days with The Smiths. Songs like "Will Never Marry" demonstrate that Morrissey could well be the melancholy Englishman bar none. In "Everyday Is Like Sunday," one of the best tracks on this album, Morrissey declares every day to be "silent and grey," and calls for Armageddon to come. (Insert your own Bruce Willis joke here.)

But what strikes me about Bona Drag is the approachability of the music contained on this disc. While I enjoyed the work of The Smiths (never mind the fact I discovered them after their breakup), it took time before I felt comfortable with their music. By the first spin of Bona Drag, it felt like I had been listening to these songs my whole life.

Morrissey was definitely riding a creative high, something I don't feel he's ever quite achieved since. Songs like "Interesting Drug," "Hairdresser On Fire" and the ode to the Kray Twins, "The Last Of The Famous International Playboys," give Morrissey the freedom to be himself, and his vocals do sound liberated. I don't think he's ever sang anything with such power as "The Last Of The Famous International Playboys," which could well be the best track on this album.

His dry sense of humor and insight into the human condition he sees all around him is evident on Bona Drag, and he pulls no verbal punches. Example from "Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference": "Some people keep their brains between their legs." Ka-pow.

There are one or two minor flaws on Bona Drag - I, for one, didn't care for "November Spawned A Monster" - but this still remains Morrissey's best work, and one that I can't believe I haven't dug out of the Pierce Archives until today.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire / Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.