The Smiths’ first-ever recording, a cover of The Cookies’ “I Want a Boy for My Birthday,” has emerged online.
The track was uploaded to YouTube on Sunday (December 15) by recording engineer Dale Hibbert, who was The Smiths’ first bass player. According to Slicing Up Eyeballs, an incomplete and lower-quality excerpt of the recording has circulated for years.
The recording features Johnny Marr and Morrissey of the iconic British indie rock group covering the ’60s R&B girl group’s B-side in August 1982, less than a year before the release of The Smiths’ debut single, “Hand in Glove.”
“I Want a Boy for My Birthday” was taped so Hibbert “could learn the melody in preparation for The Smiths’ first demo session,” music journalist Simon Goddard wrote in his book Songs That Saved Your Life: The Art of The Smiths 1982-87. Per Goddard, “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.’”
Listen to the recording here: