With the recent album remasters, Johnny Marr’s solo album, Morrissey’s bleeding ulcer and persistently false reunion rumors, The Smiths have been in the news pretty often lately for a band that’s been defunct for 25 years. Here’s another reason to revisit their greatness — a rare rehearsal cassette recording has surfaced from May 1983, nearly a year before the release of their debut.
It’s rough around the edges, but it’s an amazing snapshot of a band that seems to have been at the height of its powers from conception. User bellapintura posted the tape at a Smiths forum earlier this week, with this back story:
In May 1983 (exact date unknown), while preparing to record their first album, The Smiths ran through a selection of songs at a rehearsal in a room in manager Joe Moss’ jeans warehouse. The tape was recorded for Troy Tate, in order to give him something to work with before going into the studio. It’s pretty rough but considering it was only recorded on cassette with a stereo mic pointing into the room, the quality isn’t too bad. Morrissey’s vocals are a bit distorted – maybe singing too close to the mic or maybe the cassette mic was too close to the PA – but everything else is surprisingly clear. There is some tape flutter at various points.
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 to trying to put it out as a semi official release, as it was recorded before the band had signed to Rough Trade, so technically he had the rights to the recording. But a combination of the poor sound quality and threats from Warner Bros, meant that the idea was shelved. The master cassette was transferred to DAT at that time but the DAT copy disappeared shortly afterwards. To my surprise it resurfaced a few weeks ago while I was going through some boxes of old tapes. The quality is a lot better than I’d remembered too!
If you’re into the torrent thing, grab it here (you’ll have to register with the forum). Otherwise, you can stream it below thanks to youtuber hipsterdisco. To imagine such legendary figures banging through this virginal material in a cramped rehearsal space with just a lone microphone to capture it is fascinating. Enjoy:
(new link – thanks somedizzywhore)
- You’ve Got Everything Now
- Accept Yourself [04:26]
- What Difference Does It Make [08:46]
- Reel Around The Fountain [12:52]
- These Things Take Time [19:28]
- I Don’t Owe You Anything [22:37]
- Hand In Glove [28:06]
- Handsome Devil [31:04]
- Miserable Lie [34:11]