The Smiths’ first ever recording has surfaced online

The cover of I want a Boy For My Birthday was recorded less than a year before the band’s first single.

Image: Pete Cronin / Getty

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The Smiths’ recording engineer (and, for a short while, bassist) Dale Hibbert has uploaded the band’s first-ever recording, a cover of I Want a Boy for My Birthday, originally recorded by 1960s R&B group The Cookies. You can take a listen above

Hibbert had previously teased the upload, and shared other isolated tracks from early Smiths demos on his YouTube channel. The track was recorded a year before the release of the Smiths’ Hand In Glove, their debut single. It’s the earliest known recording of Johnny Marr and Morrissey playing together.

As Simon Goddard notes in his book, Songs that Saved Your Life: The Art of the Smiths 1982-87, the taping came about in preparation for the band’s first demo: “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.’”

Read our interview with Johnny Marr here, where we chat about his career in The Smiths and his signature Fender guitar.

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