These Things Take Time: May 1983 Smiths rehearsal tape unveiled

In the last few days, a rehearsal tape by The Smiths dating back to May 1983 has been unearthed [back story here], and promptly uploaded to YouTube. The eight-song cassette was recorded live at the band’s headquarters, in manager Joe Moss’s Crazy Face building on Portland Street in the heart of Manchester, ostensibly for producer Troy Tate, who had just been hired to produce the Smiths’ debut album for Rough Trade.

While the exact date of the recording is unknown, I would hazard a guess that it predates the group’s first session for John Peel on May 18, in part because Tate would otherwise have had a better, studio recording of four of these eight songs, and also because the quality of performance at this rehearsal appears not yet to have been bolstered by the arrangements that came to the fore on that Peel session.

Either way, this 40-minute, unedited rehearsal tape stands as arguably the earliest publicly available tape of The Smiths performing a full set. I say “arguably,” because the footage of The Smiths at The Hacienda in February 1983, at only their third show, has long been available on YouTube [and follows below, in set order] and exemplifies the concept of The Smiths arriving on the music scene “fully formed.” While there is no between-song banter, the quality and precision of the band’s rehearsal performance, at the moment their “career” was about to take off with the release of debut single “Hand In Glove,” is indisputable. Andy Rourke had completed the line-up only five months earlier.

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