The Smiths/Morrissey - song-by-song discussion thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Turk Thrust, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. The MEZ

    The MEZ Forum Resident

    Bona Drag 5/5
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  2. Pavol Stromcek

    Pavol Stromcek Formerly thoutah

    SF Bay Area
    I think I mentioned this before, but Bona Drag is my favorite Morrissey solo release, and the one that I've likely played most often. It's a mostly great collection, but I definitely think a few of the B-sides that made the cut should have been swapped for better ones that were left off.

    The omission of the excellent "Sister I'm a Poet" is a glaring one to me, and I would happily trade this song for the vasty inferior "Lucky Lisp" or "Such a Little Thing." I know I'm in a minority on this, but I would also prefer having the lovely original version of "At Amber" in place of either of those songs as well. I'm not crazy about "Yes I Am Blind," but that one at least seems to please more people, so I sort of get why that would be included on Bona Drag.

    Also, I agree about the cover image not being the absolute best, but he would certainly do far worse later on. (He sure seemed to be choosing bad shirts at that time - I mean the see-through, mesh, zip-up shirt would be more suitable on some skeezy guy at an eastern European disco, while that billowing tent of a button down he's wearing on the rear makes him look like a kid playing around in one of his dad's ill-fitting office shirts.)

    In any case, it's a strong compilation, if a wee bit patchy and not totally cohesive, and it contains most of the solo Morrissey songs I typically want to hear.

    I'll give it a 4.3/5.
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  3. Lamus

    Lamus Forum Resident

    Tempe, Arizona
    I missed Bona Drag when it came out and ignored it in later years since it was a compilation. I have enjoyed giving it a proper listen! A strong 4/5 from me.
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  4. spacedyed

    spacedyed Forum Resident

    Washington DC
    For being collected from a bunch of singles/b-sides and different sessions/writers/musicians, Bona Drag works surprisingly well as an album. Replacing "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and "Suedehead" with a couple of the discarded b-sides would've made for better value, but I love their placement among the newer songs and think of them as belonging to this album as much as to Viva Hate. The inclusion of "Hairdresser on Fire" makes a lot of sense here, with its character study fitting more than on Viva Hate (even though that's where I heard it first). 4.5/5
  5. pwhytey

    pwhytey Forum Resident

    My favourite Morrissey album is still to come, but Bona Drag definitely gives it a run for its money. I would call this his most entertaining solo release - the mood here is much lighter than on Viva Hate.

    There are a couple of tracks I would’ve sequenced differently, but really it’s just an awesome collection of songs. 5/5

    A million times yes to this!
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  6. robbroncs

    robbroncs Forum Disgrace

    bona 5/5

    this album and early burglary years are as mandatory as the the studio LPs themselves. i'd add World of..., but half of it is redundant
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  7. Gavaxeman

    Gavaxeman Take me back to dear old Blighty...

    West Midlands U.K.
    Bona Drag

    The original release felt at the time a bit of a cop out, disguising the crisis in an attempt to follow up Viva Hate. Given the time elapsed between hate and drag was over 2 years (the smiths would have got thru three studio albums in that period)its always smacked of a desperation release . The forthcoming Kill Uncle confirmed this even more .

    However time has been kind to it , a lot of more casual fans would have heard a lot of unfamiliar material , and it shows the strength of his first 7 singles off well. Given that most of us agree theirs room for additional strong b sides such as Poet or I Know Very Well.. it’s a decent document 4/5

    The reissue was a real disappointment, dodgy edits , poor reworked artwork, and the extra tracks were pretty dire , I’d rather he’d added the best missing b sides ..
  8. guidedbyvoices

    guidedbyvoices Diver Dan

    Alpine, TX
    I see you’re in the UK. Being in Texas, I find that really interesting, so thanks for this. In the US the singles were imports or more of a specialty thing, not easy to find. In high school I struggled and found cassingles of ouija, November and Interesting Drug. It was actually easier to find VHS in stores like Hulmerist and Dallas.

    In my area at least, Bona Drag was a very necessary comp since finding the pricey import CD singles or the vinyl (which no one I knew could still play) or the random cassingle dumped in a Sam goody was tough. Even though BD repeated Suedehead, Sunday, and (for us Americans) Hairdresser, it was still seen in my circle of friends as essential as Viva Hate
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  9. inglorious

    inglorious Forum Resident

    Bona Drag
    I can see why this was made and it is a good representation of the singles at the time and I guess we can quibble about the exclusion of certain tracks, but listening to it now, like Viva Hate, I find it slightly dated. I didn’t really listen to much Smiths before the solo material, but I think it must have been difficult for Morrissey at the time, to choose whether to replicate the Smith’s sound, or forge ahead with something new. You can hear a mixture of the two here, I believe.
    The two singles from Viva Hate tower above most of the other tracks, but there is still some great songs amongst it, which, as others have said, is quite amazing, considering the myriad players, writers and producers used.
    To me, he really only came into his own when he had a proper band behind him, and less session musicians/hired hands and they started playing live together.
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  10. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The ratings for Bona Drag:


    The ratings so far:

    Viva Hate - 4.03

    Bona Drag - 4.38

    1, Everyday Is Like Sunday - 4.87
    2, Suedehead - 4.84
    3, The Last of the Famous International Playboys - 4.595
    4, Hairdresser on Fire - 4.29
    5, November Spawned a Monster - 4.225
    6, Piccadilly Palare - 4.15
    7, Angel, Angel Down We Go Together - 4.05
    8, Late Night, Maudlin Street - 4.045
    8, Sister I'm a Poet - 4.045
    10, Alsatian Cousin - 4.04
    10, Disappointed - 4.04
    12, I Know Very Well How I Got My Name - 3.88
    13, Will Never Marry - 3.795
    14, Ouija Board, Ouija Board - 3.55
    15, Yes, I Am Blind - 3.53
    16, Break Up the Family - 3.51
    17, Interesting Drug - 3.47
    18, Lucky Lisp - 3.37
    19, The Ordinary Boys - 3.36
    20, Little Man, What Now? - 3.36
    21, Lifeguard on Duty - 3.33
    22, I Don't Mind If You Forget Me - 3.32
    23, Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference - 3.29
    24, He Knows I'd Love to See Him - 3.28
    25, Happy Lovers at Last United - 3.11
    26, Dial-A-Cliche - 3.05
    26, Michaels Bones - 3.05
    28, Striptease With a Difference - 3.04
    29, Bengali in Platforms - 2.96
    30, At Amber - 2.89
    31, Girl Least Likely To - 2.86
    32, Margaret on the Guillotine - 2.81
    33, East West - 2.56
    34, Oh Well, I'll Never Learn - 2.44
    35, Please Help the Cause Against Loneliness - 2.37
    36, Oh Phoney - 2.11
    37, Get Off the Stage - 1.87
    38, Safe Warm, Lancashire Home - 1.8
    39, Treat Me Like a Human Being - 1.5
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  11. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Kill Uncle

    Our Frank
    Asian Rut
    Sing Your Life
    Mute Witness
    King Leer
    Found, Found, Found
    Driving Your Girlfriend Home
    The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye
    (I'm) The End of the Family Line
    There is a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends

    Non-album tracks

    Journalists Who Lie
    Tony the Pony
    That's Entertainment
    The Loop
    Born to Hang (unreleased)
    Pregnant for the Last Time
    Skin Storm
    Cosmic Dancer (live)
    My Love Life
    I've Changed My Plea to Guilty
    Trash (live)

    Live in Dallas
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  12. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Today's song is Our Frank:

    Despite Langer and Winstanley staying on as producers, the Kill Uncle sessions introduced another new band of Mark Nevin (guitar), Bedders (bass) and Andrew Paresi (drums) along with several other additional musicians including Steve Nieve on keyboards.

    Some fans nowadays tend to mock Mark Nevin's contributions, but I think he was actually a good choice of collaborator. The problem is that he only became a good collaborator after he'd learned how the writing process with Morrissey worked (eg. I've Changed My Plea to Guilty, You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side and I Know it's Gonna Happen Someday). For this album he has admitted that he submitted musical sketches, but that these essentially became the finished tracks. His comment that the album was "nobody's baby" is telling as well. With Clive Langer probably wishing that he was the main songwriter and recording music that he's acknowledged wasn't to his tastes, and with Morrissey at his least dynamic, the album was in trouble from the beginning.

    The first few songs are not too bad though and Our Frank is a reasonable opener. The music does sound a little thin at times and the lyrics are again a tad throwaway, but the song improves towards its conclusion. The "Won't somebody stop me..." section being the highlight of the track for me.

    Not the strongest of singles and the first to fail to reach the top twenty.

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  13. guidedbyvoices

    guidedbyvoices Diver Dan

    Alpine, TX
    Never realized Steve Nieve was leaving now. the album, I’m sure due to the ‘clanger/stanley’ team that did Punch the Clock

    And also good note on Nevin, I always think of Arsenal as a Boz/Whyte written album.

    Our Frank is fine, good single if not quite up to the level of Bona Drag’s best

    3 seems right
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  14. Pavol Stromcek

    Pavol Stromcek Formerly thoutah

    SF Bay Area
    And here is the point in the thread where I'll be taking a sabbatical, at least until we get to Your Arsenal (if my thread alerts are working at that point) which has several decent tunes.

    I'm just not a fan of Kill Uncle, and I only really like "Sing Your Life" and the uncharacteristically (for this album) lovely and melodic "Driving Your Girlfriend Home." (Not a fan of "Our Frank.)" Otherwise, I see this album as a creative misstep.
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  15. Blame The Machines

    Blame The Machines Forum Resident

    Our Frank

    This is a solid track. But it is just a bit flabby in all departments. There is nothing wrong with it, but it just feels to comfortable and somewhat bland.

    It has Langer and Winstanley's DNA all over the production, and Bedders does add a bit of Madness to the proceedings. But musically & vocally it feels unfocused and in need of more work to sharpen the track up.

  16. George P

    George P Everybody's Lost

    Our Frank - 4.5/5
  17. octophone

    octophone fit and working again

    Never was an intro let down so badly by a song. seriously - not even "Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo. It sounds as if it's going to go somewhere fun and exotic from the violin, the descending riff and the slightly wonky snare drum. And then it just collapses into one of the dullest things he'd yet put his name to. Give it a rest why don't yer indeed - physician, heal thyself! 1/5.

    I too won't have much to say on this album but sill keep poking my head round to see what's going on.
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  18. Freek999

    Freek999 Forum Resident

    Our Frank 4/5
    I love the bit "Give us a drink..."
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  19. TheWarmth

    TheWarmth Forum Resident

    I'll give "Our Frank" a 2.5.
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  20. spacedyed

    spacedyed Forum Resident

    Washington DC
    "Our Frank" is not terrible by any means, but man, does it sound dated. It feels like Morrissey-by-the-numbers, though I like the lyrics. I love the whole "Won't somebody stop me from thinking..." section and how it devolves into a cacophony of crazy voices. 3/5
  21. Orson Swells

    Orson Swells Forum Resident

    I think it's solidly okay with lots of flashes of inspiration here and there. I like the violin, the "frankly vulgar red pullover" lyric, the bouncy bass, the "give us a drink" section, the clanking music hall piano, the amusing fade-out. Of course, it's entirely inconsequential, almost disturbingly so - but I suppose it's frothy and fun, and quite cheerfully depressive. It was always great live when someone from the audience would throw him a cigarette at the appropriate moment. Not a great album opener by any means, but certainly one of the better Kill Uncle tracks... 3.5/5
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  22. Luisboa

    Luisboa Forum Resident

    Coimbra, Portugal
    Our Frank.
    Maybe not a killer opener for KU but a cool song. 3.5/5
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  23. rararabbits

    rararabbits Forum Resident

    LA, CA, USA
    The first Morrissey single I didn’t buy. This may have been because I was on a student budget and knew the album was (finally!) coming soon. Or because, even then, I could tell a Morrissey B-side called “Journalists Who Lie” was likely to be utter toss.

    An attention-grabbing intro and a good outro with an underwhelming song sandwiched in between. The premise is a fun bit of role reversal, as Morrissey is the one telling an arch-miserabilist to lighten up, and I like elements of the music - Bedders’ bassline, the Roxy Musichall piano - but it just feels insubstantial. The rinky-dink “red pullover” bits don’t help. It felt like there was a lot resting on Kill Uncle - could he weather the departure of Street?; had he exhausted the lyrical potential of his adolescence after VH? - and as an indicator of what was coming next, this felt...not promising.
  24. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    "Our Frank"

    Well, I've just sat and listened to Kill Uncle as my homework (or was it detention?). I've maybe convinced myself over the years that it's not as bad as it's cracked up to be, but perhaps that illusion is wearing off. It's an album of slim pickings, and where even the best bits sound strangely lifeless. As for "Our Frank", well at least it achieves being average, which not everything on this album does. Starts well, and the outro is good, but what's inbetween is uninspired at best. Never a great fan of Clanger/Winstanley productions - although some of them are done well (e.g. Piccadilly Palare), when they're not they're really not (see also Goodbye Cruel World and Easy Pieces). 3/5.
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  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord

    The lyrics save it from being merely a pedestrian song with some good musical ideas. 3/5
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