Listen: Super-Rare Rehearsal Recordings Of The Smiths

The Smiths

The Smiths

What with Morrissey incapacitated by pneumonia and Johnny Marr rampantly striding the world’s stages as a solo act, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at the very beginning of their respective careers, with this long-lost demo tape of the Smiths.

A recording taken of the band in rehearsal has emerged online, and while it’s not sparkling hi-fi quality, it does show just how tight the band’s playing and musical arrangements were, even in embryo form. All of the songs appeared on their eponymous debut album, but this recording was taken before they signed to Rough Trade records, let alone entered a recording studio.

Mike Joyce, the band’s drummer, has confirmed that the tape is genuine, tweeting that “it was recorded on a cassette player lying on the floor in the rehearsal room.”

That would be the Manchester jeans warehouse Crazy Face, run by the band’s then-manager Joe Moss. And the tape was supposed to be a guide for former Teardrop Explode Troy Tate, with whom the band made their first batch of studio recordings. These were later shelved.

The tape appears to have been unearthed by a proper Smiths insider, as the YouTuber hipsterdisco explained:

“I was lent the master cassette by a source close to the band who made the recording – let’s call him Pablo Cuckoo – in 1997 with a view of trying to put it out as a semi-official release. As it was recorded before the band had signed to Rough Trade, technically he had the rights to the recording. But a combination of poor sound quality & threats from Warner Bros meant that the idea was shelved.”

The full tracklisting is as follows:

“You’ve Got Everything Now”
“Accept Yourself”
“What Difference Does It Make?”
“Reel Around The Fountain”
“These Things Take Time”
“I Don’t Owe You Anything”
“Hand In Glove”
“Handsome Devil”
“Miserable Lie”

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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