Popular Culture (Music) 20110513. Magic Bus: The Who on Tour

(9 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

First of all, this is really a very poorly titled record album.  It had nothing to do about being on tour.  It is actually their first compilation album on Decca, their American label.  When this came out in 1968, the way that songs were released was a bit different than later, but it looks like, in the digital age, we are sort of returning to the older ways.

Back then, the single ruled (actually, they were doubles, 45 RPM vinyl pressings with an “A” side (the “good” song) and a “B” side (the ugly cousin)).  That ceased to be the norm after around 1969 or so, when the album started to dominate and singles were released in accordance with how well specific tracks on the album got airtime.

In any event, this is a compilation from many singles the The Who had released over several years.  It had a companion in the UK, and we shall discuss that presently.

Both records were released in 1968, Magic Bus in 196809, and the UK sort of version, Direct Hits, in 196810.  They have many songs in common, and after the treatment of the US one we shall include the ones on the UK version.  Direct Hits was released on the label controlled by The Who, Track Records, whilst Magic Bus was released on Decca.

The first song on Magic Bus was the absolutely brilliant Disguises.  I love this song VERY much.  The guitar is brilliant, and listen to Keith on those Premiers!  Daltry is near his peak, and the bass from Entwistle fits Moon’s drumming as a key to a lock.  Also note the French horn that Entwistle plays later in the song.  Can some musician tell me what meter this is?

The song is about a chap who must have really aggravated his bird.  Obviously she did not want to see him ever again, or was he a stalker?  I think not of the latter, because The Who were pretty much upbeat at the time.  Here is the studio version.

It can be argued that Townshend wrote this song as a protest to John Fred and his Playboy Band usurping Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles.  This is probably not correct, because Magic Bus was released in in September of 1968, and the songs for it were in the can earlier, with Disguises actually being released as a single in 1966.  I think that John Fred actually copied Disguises for his little hit.  Besides, bands using hired brass sections were almost always nothing but studio creations at the time.  With no disrespect directed at John Fred Gourrier (no longer with us, having died 20050414), I put the controversy to rest.  Disguises predated both Lucy in the Sky AND Judy in Disguise.  THEY were copying Pete!  Here is Judy in Disguise, a very poor piece.

Here is an alternate version to the studio one.  I like the studio one better, but some folks say that they do not like the guitar “crashes” in the original.  I do prefer them, but for your listening pleasure, please enjoy.

Wow!  I have written about the first song on the record and have already spent three hours doing research!  Can anyone say “labor of love”?  The facts show that Townshend’s piece was the first one on the genre.  Time to move to new ones.

The second cut was Run, Run, Run, which I have covered before in this series, since it was on Happy Jack (the US release) or A Quick One (the UK one).  Please search my archives for this.  I do not desire to use more bandwidth than I need to for this piece.

I like the next piece very much.  It was by Entwistle, called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that Keith was important on it.  Would you like to listen?

This is much a better song than time has remembered.  John sang the bulk of the vocals, including the falsetto parts.  His bass was huge, and well mated with Keith’s drums.

Here is another version, but with better pictures.  John and Keith were loving mates ( I mean that in the UK meaning, nonsexual best friends), and Pete LOVED Keith as a brother.  Roger was always sort of distant, but not in these photographs.  They, when at their best, were brothers.  I am getting sort of teary.

The next song on this record was I Can’t Reach You.  I covered that last time, as was the next one, Our Love Was, Is, when we discussed The Who Sell Out.  Now for more.

The last track on the first side is Call Me Lightening.  It is a Townshend song.  Daltrey does the bulk of the vocals.

Here is a video, and it has been used for Cobwebs and Strange earlier.  I never tire to watching it.  Who was ever that young?  

Here is a monaural version:

Side Two starts with the title song of the record, Magic Bus.  Also a Townshend song, the single was a big US hit, so Decca capitalized on the hit to sell the record.

This is one of their signature songs.  I like the Diddley beat.  Here is a good live one:

This is much as they appeared the first time that I saw them in 1976.  The recording looks like a bootleg, so here is a higher quality one:

Note the John is wearing his skeleton outfit!

The next two songs are Entwistle ones.  The first is Someone’s Coming.  Even though Entwistle wrote it, Daltrey sang it.  John did play all of the horns.

This is not one of Enwistle’s best, but I like the next one very much.  John sings Doctor, Doctor:

The words are really clever, so listen to it closely.

The next song is a cover of a previous song, not written by any of the band members, but rather by Don Altfeld, Roger Christian, Dean Torrence, called Bucket T.  A lot of people like it, but I am not a big fan.  I like their own compositions for the most part (although they did some GREAT covers).

Here is the original version, by the great surfer band Jan and Dean (who many people mistake for The Beach Boys.  Keith was a surfer music fan, so he may have influenced covering the song.

Here is some video of them appearing to be adding additional tracks.  I like it because it shows John playing his horn.

Here is the original for comparison.  I like the horn better.

Finally, the record ends with the brilliant Townshend song Pictures of Lily.  This was really pushing the envelope at the time, with its not very thinly veiled reference to what the Brits call wanking.

I could not get the embed code for the studio version, but here is a link to it.  It has the words as well.

Here is what looks like a lip synched version, but it does show John playing the French horn again.  He was such a great bass player that lots of folks do not remember that he was quite a good horn player as well.

Here is a cover by someone with whom you are probably familiar:

The compilation released in the UK had a few songs in common with this, but also some other material.  It is quite good, and I shall show some of the highlights.  It is called Direct Hits and was released on Track Records, the label that Kit Lambert and The Who created.

The first difference is the inclusion of the wonderful Townshend song, I’m a Boy.  I really like this song a lot.  Pete and Roger sing, mostly Roger.

Here is a very nice live version (no video) from the wonderful record Live at Leeds:

The record also contained I Can See for Miles, but we discusses that one during our treatment of The Who Sell Out.

One song that was not included in the US record is the brilliant Substitute, a Townshend song.  I think that this is one of their best single songs.

This is an obviously lip synched version of the studio original.  Note that Keith is barely even acting like he is drumming:

This next one is obviously live, from the Monterrey Pop Festival.  The guy who introduced them is Eric Burdon from The Animals.

The record also had Happy Jack on it, but we have already discussed that tune.

An interesting cover of The Rolling Stones This Could be the Last Time is on the record.  There is some history about the recording of this song (the B side on the single was Under my Thumb).  The Stones had just been busted for Cannabis and The Who quickly recorded and released the covers to help raise money for their legal defence (as it is spelt in the UK).  They released it so quickly that Townshend played bass because Entwistle was on is honeymoon!  That is why the bass is not what one usually expects from The Who.

Unfortunately, I could not find a video.  If anyone does, please add it in the comments.

The next difference was the inclusion of the Entwistle/Moon song In the City (different than the Moody Blues song of the same name).  Moon sings quite a bit on it.

Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand is also included, but already discussed this one.  The final difference is the Townshend song Dogs which did not chart well, greatly disappointing Pete, because he thought that it was a really good song.  I agree with him.

I hope that you have enjoyed our little look back to the first compilation albums by from The Who.  I like most all of the material from both records, and some of them, such as Pictures of Lily, I’m a Boy, Substitute, and a few others are amongst my favorite singles from the band.

This may post late at Dailykos because the Save & Preview button leaves me in edit mode.  After I post to TheStarsHollowGazette I shall try closing the browser tab here and try again.  I do not know if I have a corrupt connexion or if Kos site is having server problems.

Please feel free to include other thoughts about the songs that I treated tonight or to include some other versions (I particularly like real live pieces with video) of them.  The comments are the best part of my pieces.

Warmest regards,



  1. some really great music?

    Warmest regards,


  2. I really appreciate it.

    Warmest regards,


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