The Sound of 'Bona Drag' {Redux}

joe frady

Vile Refusenik
I've had it on repeat for a couple of days now. I have to say, the re-master is astonishing: Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch have done a sterling job. (Amongst an endless list of previous projects they worked with Morrissey on his Jobriath compilation) It's most definitely not just a case of cranking up the volume. All of the tracks sound fresher and cleaner and immaculately separated, as if they could be recorded tomorrow. But at least a couple of the tracks sound like entirely new works. 'Last of the Famous International Playboys' now sounds absolutely gargantuan. The vintage analogue synths now ooze and squelch ominously in surround sound, with Gannon's sharp metallic guitar scratching away in the foreground, perfectly delineated. The drums are a series of beautiful ricochets whilst the Voice has never sounded warmer. It's extraordinary.
'Everyday is Like Sunday' is now bigger than God. It is monumental. Never mind the facebook campaign for #1; I say let's get this as the British national anthem. Just imagine it - at every national event the massed ranks welling up with tears, stiffening their lips as they reach the crescendo of 'Share some-greased-tea-with-me' (rubbing their bellys in a circular motion a-la Moz on TOTP)
The excising of the 's.t.e.v.e.n...p.u.s.h.o.f.f' section from 'Ouija Board' is a little odd, but hardly ruins the flow of the song. Neither does the removal of the 'Suedehead' fade-in. The addition of the extra 'Piccadilly' verse adds a further note of poignancy to the song.
As for the extra traclks, my favourite is 'Lifeguard'. It seems the most complete and confident, lyrically and vocally. 'Happy Lovers' seems half-finished and reminds me a little too much of Noise Is The Best Revenge - not the song, but Moz's nephew's band :eek: - not a recommendation. 'Please Help The Cause..' is fine, but I have to confess to a preference for the version with extensive Sandie backing vocals. All trace of Sandie Shaw has been deleted.
As for 'Oh Phoney' - that's just nuts. It sounds like they forgot to finish the mix and left off the drum and piano tracks. What you get is an acceptable Morrissey vocal and some occassionally heavy guitars. The best version I've heard is 'Oh Phoney!' (note the exclamation mark) which features the whole kit and caboodle - clumsy drums, stonking piano, heavy guitars - the whole Madness rendering. The only reason I can think for the inclusion of this version is that no-one's ever heard it before, cos why would anyone even leak this version? It's nonsensical.
'Bed Took Fire' is only slightly different to 'At Amber', but lovely enough.
My own take on why 'Let The Right One Slip In' is here is two-fold - as a possible nod to the vampire book/film of recent years. It was widely publicised that it was a refernce to a Morrissey song, which most people hadn't heard. Perhaps it was included here to make people aware of its existence. Otherwise, I had theorised that as the final track on the album, perhaps it was Morrissey's way of saying that was my sound back in 1990, but 'Let the right one slip in', although only 2 years later, fairly closely approximates Morrissey's current power pop sound, particularly in this heavier version. Who knows?
So, all in all - a pristine endeavor.
Roll on 'Kill Uncle' {Redux} by this time next year.....:D
Last edited:
Excellent review. Thank you. Looking forward to my copy arriving in about 10 days. I bought it primarily for a nice quality version of "Lifeguard On Duty" (smasher of a song!) but it sounds as though I'll have a lot more to enjoy. I've sampled a few snips on various sites and the songs do indeed sound refreshed, from what I've heard.

My one complaint of the whole project, which i raised in another thread months ago, is that I wish they had tacked on "Sister I'm a Poet." In my opinion, it's the absolute pinnacle Morrissey song and from this very period of material. It's also clearly one of his favorites, as it has been played on quite a few tours.
its released today here..i will hopefully manage to buy it today .

so does the viva hate tracks sound different to the version which did leak last year?
Sounds like a solid release overall, but why excise the spelling outs in Ouija Board?? Always love singing along with that...
ahhh and I have to wait till my Birthday (december) to listen to mine.. Damn! :(
I thought it would be a good idea to replace Every day ils and Suedehead and leave them for Viva Hate. They could have been replaced with Sister iap and Girl least likely to.
Interesting review Joe.

They didn't go crazy with the compression and limiting?

Not to these ears, no sir.

Sounds like a solid release overall, but why excise the spelling outs in Ouija Board?? Always love singing along with that...

Cos he's potty. Haven't you heard? ;)
Joe Frady, your review is worth a five star deluxe. No need to read any others.
Cheers Moz
I never bought Bona Drag when it came out as I had already purchased everything on it and was only earning about £3.75 an hour at the time.

I got my copy of the new version today though and it sounds lovely and crisp.

Was the version of Piccadilly Palare always the long version on the original Bona Drag?
It is the version with the "cold water room" verse in.

Also just listening to ther version of Such a little thing makes such a big difference and Morrissey's vocal sounds so much more imposing. Fantastic.
) It's most definitely not just a case of cranking up the volume.

Defintely not. Remastering is a case of simply cranking up the trebel. But not in the case of this re--issue.

Last edited:
The version of Oh Phoney! is so unlike the one that has been doing the rounds as a bootleg, way more stripped down and very much focussed on the vocal. Superb. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!
Got my copy of Bona Drag today

........and it has a really great picture of Moz jumping down the steps of the Hollywood high school liberal & household arts building on the booklet front cover ! Other pictures taken around E1 are great too ! :)
Re: Got my copy of Bona Drag today

Got my copy today, it sounds fresh and just beautiful. They have done a top job
Re: Got my copy of Bona Drag today

Has morrissey added new sleeve notes?! If so any chance someone will put up scans.
Re: Got my copy of Bona Drag today

Is Will Never Marry still the short version on the Bona Drag re-issue?
board bona drag ouija remaster
Top Bottom