Friday, June 25, 2010

Album Review: Morrissey – Bona Drag

Morrissey’s late 80s singles were complied on Bona Drag. It’s a little hit and miss, opening with weak, jaunty single Piccadilly Palare. Much better is Interesting Drug, which features glorious guitar from Craig Gannon and a soaring melody. In other words vintage Morrissey.

Just as good, though markedly different is November Spawned a Monster. It’s darker, featuring a forlorn vocal from Morrissey, but most notable an almost strangled wordless vocal from Mary Margaret O’Hara in the bridge. There are some great lyrics here: “and if the lights were out would you even dare to kiss her full on the mouth or anywhere.”

Morrissey since his days in the Smiths had always released strong B-sides, and thankfully many of them are captured here. Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference has a quirky melody with some unpredictable twists and turns, while Hairdresser On Fire has a soaring melody ably aided by Stephen Street’s piano showcasing Morrissey’s preoccupation with London.

The collection does contain some of his weaker singles, Ouija Board, Ouija Board being a case in point. The single arrived at precisely the point when my previously ardent devotion to buying up all things Smiths and Morrissey related began to waver. It’s a pretty uninspiring tune, almost inoffensive. Much better is final track Disappointed, featuring a strutting guitar line and wonderfully self-deprecating lyrics from Morrissey: “this is the last song I will ever sing”, followed by cheers from the crowd… then he sings “no I’ve changed my mind again”, followed by a disappointed “awww”! It’s cheesy but it works.

This album is not far off being essential for Morrissey fans. It’s let down by one or two Morrissey-by-numbers tracks (Last of the Famous International Playboys, Yes I Am Blind) but these are more than made for by the high points mentioned above.