"Former "Smiths" frontman Steve Morrissey had plenty to sing about after his departure from one of Manchester's most prolific bands, The Smiths. His patented whine and curious songwriting made him hip in the '80s. His songs were hardly one of inspiration. Indeed, many music listeners during this time turned to alternative for as sense of reality; far from the bubbly, happy-go-annoying music that perpetuated the big '80s music scene. Yet Morrisey took his brand of musical misery to new heights. Already popular after the Smiths, "Bona Drag" is a compilation of his early solo music. It delights and excites! Songs like "Suedehead," mocked the punk rockers who were letting their hair grow out, and thus, becoming ostracized. "Interesting Drug" prods both animal rights and English politics. While "Last of the Famous International Playboys" (clearly one of Morrisey's best works) haggles two of England's most infamous criminals, Reggie and Ronny Kray. Other standouts such as "Ouija board..." and "Hairdresser on Fire" lend to Morrisey's inspirational side. He's one charmer and lend many hints to his subdued abilities. Both Smith's and Morrissey fans will be glad to know that minus guitar player/songwriter Jonny Marr, the original Smiths bassist and drummer play on most of these songs. Furthermore, the very cripst guitar of Stephen Street give Morrissey an added fluidity. These songs can be found on the now-rare "Morrissey-'Hulmerist'" VHS video."Bona Drag" is a compilation of Morrissey's best work, I believe. His latter work has gone more raw and unforgiving. It lacks much of the emotion and catchyness of his earlier work. Yet I really enjoyed the "Bona Drag" compilation. I think you will too!"
Mozzer During His Glory Solo Years.
The Groove | Boston, MA | 08/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since the Smiths disbanded in 1987, Morrissey's solo work has been as consistent as the cash flow in my checking account. But if you want a one-stop guide to Mozzer at his solo peak, "Bona Drag" is the way to go. This compilation of singles, b-sides, and album cuts covering 1988-1990 shows the many sides of Morrissey: cynical, detatched, hilarious, and insightful. "Yes, I am Blind," "Will Never Marry," and "Everyday Is Like Sunday" reinforce Mozzer as one of pop's leading prophets of gloom. And I'm probably the only person who doesn't think "Ouija Board" is the disaster many people think it is. Other key favorites of mine are the lovely "Disappointed" and the well-crafted "He Knows I'd Love to See Him." Some casual listeners may turn a contemptuous nose at this album, arguing that it isn't on par with his work with the Smiths. To that I say, "rubbish." "Bona Drag" is a fine album on its own terms, and it's a great place to introduce yourself to one of Britian's great lyricists."
Dawn M. Martin | Eastern Shore, MD USA | 09/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, this may be a very unpopular opinion (probably garnering a 0 out of 999 people found this review helpful), but I truly believe that this is the ONLY Morrissey solo album that comes close to the glory of The Smiths. Oh, how I did TRY to like 'Kill Uncle', 'Your Arsenal', etc., but the tracks that those albums were laden with just didn't have anything that sparked them from mediocrity to genius. I listened to all of them numerous times, but even 'Viva Hate' (from which some of these tracks were culled) was bogged down with other tunes that just were not album material.
I hate to detract from Morrissey's plethora of talent because he has the most incredibly passionate voice one could ever hope to hear in a recording, coupled with his brilliant lyrical ability, ranging from songs of gloom and despair to songs about topics you never thought you would hear on any album or you had never even thought of, period.
Now, if I had never heard of The Smiths, I would be saying that this album is pure genius. 'November Spawned a Monster' was not only a really strong tune musically, but also one of many of his songs about unloved outcasts, with which I could really relate. The line, "A symbol of where mad, mad lovers must pause and draw the line," really spoke to me as a teenager and gave me much reason to pause later in life when I thought about having a child.
'Ouija Board, Ouija Board' was another song that grabbed me right away. Reaching out to the afterlife was something that really spoke to me in times of teenage turmoil, but again in adult life these songs blossom into a richness that you don't fully see when you are younger.
'Yes, I am Blind' was the pinnacle of this album for me. I was sure he had channeled into my body and seen life through my eyes. Once again, Morrissey's skill for writing and knowing what's inside of a lonely person's heart and mind, can only come from having been there himself. And maybe that's why I see the later albums as lesser, because there is less of that sorrow there for me to experience a little bit of empathy through my headphones.
I certainly don't fault Morrissey for the music not living up to my expectations, but any die hard fans know that The Smiths set the bar so high musically, that anything else would just seem lackluster in comparison. Unfortunately, listening to any and all of Morrissey's solo albums always just left me scrambling for my 'Queen Is Dead' LP or my 'Meat Is Murder' cassette and wishing that some day Morrissey and Marr might mend their fences and resurrect The Smiths. One can always hope!
This is my fave Morrissey CD....
Elaine | NYC | 11/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned this album for approximately two years now and it's one of my most treasured albums from my entire collection. When I first purchased it the songs took getting used to, but after a couple of listens I was completely hooked. This album has a great mix of upbeat music with "piccadilly palare" and "suedehead" and beautiful, meaningful slow songs like "yes, I am blind" and "he knows I'd love to see him". This music is not only meaningful, but the lyrics are brilliantly written.A lot of people complain that Morrissey could never be as good as the Smiths, I actually feel that Morrissey is just as good as the Smiths, if not better. Since I've purchased this album I've been listening to it more than I listen to all my Smiths Albums. So for all you skeptical Smiths fans, don't let you love and devotion for the Smiths deter you from purchasing this amazing album."