A complete version of The Smiths’ first known recording has been unveiled! The track was a bedroom recording made in August of 1982 and features the duo of Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey performing a rendition of The Cookies’ “I Want A Boy For My Birthday”
For many years a scratchy lo-fi version has made its rounds, but this is the first time the full 3-minute version in higher audio quality has finally been made available—courtesy of Dale Hibbert—a sound engineer who briefly placed bass in The Smiths during the band’s beginnings.
Previously, for about a year Hibbert had been hinting he would eventually share his version of this historic tape. Last January, he shared both the demos and isolated segments of the very first two songs Morrissey and Marr collaborations, “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” and “Suffer Little Children,” which were recorded at Manchester’s Decibelle Studios, that very same month in 1982.
The Smiths only performed the cover twice, with the first time being their debut concert two months later on October 4th, 1982.
According to Simon Goddard’s book, “Songs That Saved Your Life: The Art of The Smiths 1982-87 Hibbert leaked the lo-fi version in the 90s, while selling the original cassette to a collector.
Here is an excerpt from Goddard’s book noting the recording:
“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.’ “
Below, listen to Morrissey’s and Marr’s full recording of “I Want A Boy For My Birthday”: