Digital Music — December 15, 2019 at 10:52 pm

The Smiths’ historic first recording — a ’60s girl group cover — has surfaced online

The complete take of The Smiths’ first known recording — a bedroom tape featuring Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey performing The Cookies’ “I Want A Boy For My Birthday” in August 1982 — appeared online Sunday, courtesy of an early associate of the band.

Though a scratchy excerpt of the song has circulated for years, the 3-minute version posted on YouTube by Dale Hibbert — a recording engineer who briefly placed bass in The Smiths — is the complete song, and of significantly higher audio quality than the prior sample. You can listen to the full track below.

Hibbert, who has been teasing he’d post this song for a year, previously shared the demos and isolated parts of the first two songs Morrissey and Marr wrote together, “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” and “Suffer Little Children,” which were recorded at Manchester’s Decibelle Studios, also in August 1982.

Simon Goddard writes in his definitive “Songs That Saved Your Life: The Art of The Smiths 1982-87”:

“The earliest known surviving document in the recording history of The Smiths stems from those very first attic practice sessions with Morrissey, Marr and Hibbert. It was for the latter’s benefit that the singer and guitarist taped a simple arrangement of ‘I Want A Boy For My Birthday,’ a 1963 B-side by New York girl group The Cookies, on Marr’s TEAC machine so that Hibbert could learn the melody in preparation for The Smiths’ first demo session. The cover was Morrissey’s idea. ‘I’d never heard it before,’ says Marr, ‘but I thought, “Great, this’ll really freak ’em out!” I was really happy to encourage it.’ “

The Smiths would go on to perform the song just twice in concert, including at their Oct. 4, 1982, live debut, and never recorded it beyond the bedroom tape. According to Goddard’s book, Hibbert kept possession of that tape, and is the one who put the excerpt online in the late ’90s before selling the cassette to a collector.

Below, hear Morrissey’s and Marr’s full recording of “I Want A Boy For My Birthday” — and the original.

UPDATE: Dale Hibbert says he deleted the track and removed his YouTube channel. “No one has forced this, it was my choice.”

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. Historic and beautiful. You have to close Dark Wave with this next week!

  2. They were going to record a second version of this song, but Morrissey canceled.

  3. Scott Stalcup

    Wow. Nice to hear early Smiths before they broke on the “national front.” Almost lullaby in nature. Would be great in helping “you kip.” How could anyone “not see” Mozzer’s future in this song?

    O-kay, that’s enough puns on Steven’s dodgy political leanings for one morning. Happy Holidays, everybody!

  4. Joseph E Tucker

    No one has a voice like Morrissey it is absolutely beautiful

  5. Can’t read about the Smiths without some whiny brat getting on a soapbox.

  6. Well it was taken Big Mouth strikes again

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