Digital Music — March 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Rare tape of early The Smiths rehearsals surfaces — hear 40-minute set from May 1983

The Smiths

A newly revealed cassette recording of The Smiths rehearsing in a Manchester warehouse in May 1983 — prior to signing their first record deal — has surfaced online, collecting performances of nine songs with early arrangements and lyrics in what the band’s drummer today called “an early recording you’ve probably never heard before.”

Dubbed “The Pablo Cuckoo Tape” after the pseudonym given the “source close to the band who made the recording,” the 40-minute performance initially was shared via and now has been uploaded to YouTube, and can be streamed via the player embedded below.

The sound of the cassette, apparently recorded to give to early producer Troy Tate, is, not surprisingly, somewhat rough. But it does find Morrissey and Co. running through early versions of tracks that would end up on their 1984 debut, including future classics “What Difference Does It Make?” and “Hand in Glove.”

Mike Joyce, the Smiths’ drummer, today tweeted the YouTube  link, writing, “A fan of The Smiths? An early recording you’ve probably never heard before. An early recording you’ve probably never heard before.” He later added that he didn’t know where the tape came from: “I thought I was the only one who kept all the old stuff, obviously not.”

The uploader’s explanation of the tape’s origins:

In May 1983 (exact date unknown), while preparing to record their debut album, The band ran through & recorded a selection of songs at a rehearsal in band manager Joe Moss’ jeans warehouse (Crazy Face). The cassette tape was recorded for Troy Tate in order to give him something to work with before going into the studio. It’s pretty rough, but considering it was recorded on cassette with a stereo Mic pointing into the room, the quality isn’t too bad. Morrissey’s vocals are a bit distorted – maybe singing too close to the mic or maybe the cassette Mic was too close to the PA but everything else is surprisingly clear. There is some tape flutter at various points. I was lent the master cassette by a source close to the band who made the recording, let’s call him Pablo Cuckoo, in 1997 with a view of trying to put it out as a semi-official release. As it was recorded before the band had signed to Rough Trade, technically he had the rights to the recording. But a combination of poor sound quality & threats from Warner Bros. meant that the idea was shelved.


Check out the full recording below:



Tracklist: The Smiths recorded at Crazy Face, Manchester, May 1983

1. “You’ve Got Everything Now”
2. “Accept Yourself”
3. “What Difference Does It Make”
4. “Reel Around The Fountain”
5. “These Things Take Time”
6. “I Don’t Owe You Anything”
7. “Hand In Glove”
8. “Handsome Devil”
9. “Miserable Lie”






  1. Breaking News

    This was supposed to be a 45 minute set but Morissey had to quit due to “extreme dandruff.”

  2. Thanks for this!

  3. It’s GONE? DAMMIT.

  4. It’s funny how drummers overplay their parts without a producer to calm them down. Too funny…

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