Now this is amazing. Some early demo tapes of The Smiths, noted by Slicing Up Eyeballs, have just popped up on YouTube. They are called “The Pablo Cuckoo Tape” run for forty minutes and feature work in progress versions of songs that would eventually grace the band’s first album and early singles.
The track to listen to first is Reel Around The Fountain which has a fuzz guitar sound in places that didn’t make the cut for the version that appeared on Hatful of Hollow (and The Smiths). Accept Yourself sounds great, while These Things Take Time is a bit of pain in the ear with Morrissey struggling to hit the high notes.
The quality of the cassette is rough bit it is fascinating nevertheless.
It has caught the attention of Smiths’ drummer Mike Joyce who tweeted today, “A fan of The Smiths? An early recording you’ve probably never heard before. An early recording you’ve probably never heard before.”
The uploader’s explanation of the tape’s origins:
In May 1983 (exact date unknown), while preparing to record their debut album, The band ran through & recorded a selection of songs at a rehearsal in band manager Joe Moss’ jeans warehouse (Crazy Face). The cassette 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 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 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.