For die-hard The Smiths fans, it’s been known that an early 1982 recording of the band covering a song by The Cookies exists somewhere. Though rough snippets of it have been circulating, never has the entire song been shared online, until now: the band’s first-ever recorded session has surfaced in full.
The recording is Johnny Marr and Morrisey‘s take on “I Want a Boy for My Birthday” by The Cookies. It was uploaded on YouTube by Dale Hibbert, a recording engineer who played the bass for The Smiths for a brief time. Measuring a little past the three-minute mark, the cover is doused in a dreamy sound mixed with a little punk edge made up of whirling guitar riffs and Morrissey’s delicate baritone vocals. It’s a rare archive that offers a slight glimpse of Morrissey’s artistic prowess before his strong political views.
According to journalist Simon Goddard in his book Songs That Saved Your Life (Revised Edition): 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.’”
Scroll above to listen to the cover of The Cookies’ “I Want a Boy for My Birthday” by The Smiths.