Recently we brought you a very rare early set of demos from Morrissey and Johnny Marr at the beginning of their time The Smiths and the Manchester band’s meteoric rise to prominence. Now, we bring you the earliest known recordings of the pair together, performing New York girl group the Cookies’ 1962 track ‘I Want a Boy for My Birthday’.
The early cover has been a whisper in the forums of dedicated Smiths fans for years. The rendition was trotted out on only two occasions as part of the band’s live repertoire and has since been available as a less-than-desirable short and hardly audible clip—until Dale Hibbert entered the fray.
The cover was posted in full by Hibbert last year and has been whirling around those same forums ever since. Hibbert was a recording engineer who had briefly played bass parts for Morrissey and Johnny Marr during the early days of The Smiths and those rare recordings.
The former engineer had been teasing the audio of the cover for nearly a year following the aforementioned demo releases of ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ and ‘Suffer Little Children’ which were recorded at Manchester’s Decibelle Studios, also in August 1982. The anticipation was worth the wait.
While those songs were early demos provided in a studio, this clip acts as a keener insight into the band. The demo is instead far more raw and far more revealing. The audio offers up a vision of the early moments of one of the most adored bands in British music history.
Smiths documenter and authority on all things Moz and Marr, Simon Goddard says in his book 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.’“
If you call yourself a fan of The Smiths, you have to hear this today.