The Who “Magic Bus”

My Take:

The Who’s Magic Bus album was released in 1968 with the misleading “On Tour” title. Magic Bus is not a live album by any means and was released to keep Who fans satisfied while they anxiously awaited 69s Tommy. But it also made Decca a few dollars and is similar in concept to the Stones’ Flowers and the Small Faces’ excellent From The Beginning lp.

Magic Bus was made up of prior singles, b-sides, ep tracks and the like – all dating from around 66-67. Run Run Run, I Can’t Reach You and Our Love Was, Is had all made appearances on prior lps and are good pop tracks. Run Run Run is a thundering mod rocker with great guitar leads from Townshend and stunning bass work from Entwistle. Other tracks like Pictures of Lily, Disguises and Doctor, Doctor represent some of the Who’s better early work, then known as pop-art. Most of these songs are great catchy power pop tunes (a term Townshend coined back in 66) that show Townshend’s mastery of feedback and guitar noise. Other notable tracks are Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (an Entwistle original of course), perhaps the strangest Who recording of all, whilst Call Me Lightning is solid mod pop.

My feeling is that they could have nicked off two shitty tunes (the Keith Moon sung Bucket T. sucks) and lifted Run Run Run, I Can’t Reach You and Our Love Was, Is and added recent singles/b-sides like Dogs, I’m A Boy, Substitute, Anytime At All and Circles to come up with a really good lp. From 1964 to 1974 the Who were one of the great bands, Townshend and co were always trying different ideas out in the studio and stretching rock’s boundaries as far as possible. Nowhere near as good an album as My Generation, Sell Out, or Tommy, Magic Bus still has moments of brilliance.

Your Take?

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:D CD Reissue | 1999 | MCA | mini LP sleeve | buy @ amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | Decca | search ebay ]

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  • I didn’t realize that Townshend coined the term “power pop.” Interesting. I agree with your assessment of the album and the band.

  • Brendan

    happy birthday Jason!

  • Jason

    Thanks HAAAA, 31 today!

  • very good assessment of this lp. i want to sing the praises of this incredible blog that has turned me on to soo many incredible albums. the reviews are always well written and i have never once listened to a song posted here and felt my time was wasted. i will do whatever possible to keep the rising storm up and running!

  • In 1967 the Who announced that they would release Rolling Stones covers as singles in protest at the jail sentences handed down to Mick Jagger and Keith Richard over the Redlands drug busts. TYhe Last Time was supposed to be released first and apparently it was but I’ve never heard it. Does anyone know of this release or an album it might be on?

  • Carlisle

    What? No Magic Bus? No Miles?? Great show tho.

  • Len Liechti

    Belated reply to Lad’s enquiry: the Who’s cover of “The Last Time” can be found on the 4-disc box set Thirty Years Of Maximum R’n’B. The Who had planned to release Jagger/Richard songs continuously while the pair were incarcerated, but their rapid release meant that only the one single, c/w “Under My Thumb”, ever appeared, on Track (Polydor) Records. “The Last Time” can also be found online. The box set is probably the best box set ever by anybody (IMHO), and of course the Who were the second best band ever (IMHO).
    PS: how about Townshend and Daltrey at the Super Bowl? Not bad for a couple of mid-sixties (agewise, that is). Some light show, too.

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