Magic Bus (Pete Townshend) Fabulous Music, Ltd.

From the Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy liner notes by Brian Cady:

Produced by Kit Lambert.
Claves and backing vocals: Bobby Pridden (as "Ben Pump")
Backing vocals: Jess Roden
Recorded early June at IBC Studios, London.

"When I wrote 'Magic Bus,' LSD wasn't even invented as far as I knew. Drug songs and veiled references to drugs were not part of The Who image. If you were in The Who and took drugs, you said, 'I take drugs,' and waited for the fuzz to come. We said it but they never came. We very soon got bored with drugs. No publicity value. Buses, however! Just take another look at Decca's answer to an overdue Tommy; The Who, Magic Bus, On Tour. Great title, swinging presentation. Also a swindle as far as insinuating that the record was live. Bastards. This record is what that record should have been. It's The Who at their early best. Merely nippers with big noses and small genitals trying to make the front page of The Daily News."
--Pete Townshend

This song was originally written by Pete sometime in late 1965 and was mentioned by manager Chris Stamp in the Christmas 1965 issue of Melody Maker as a possible follow-up single to "My Generation." The Who did not, however, get around to recording it, so "Magic Bus" first appeared when the group The Pudding released it as a single in April 1967. It failed to chart.

"It was recorded at a time when we had just returned from our first trip to America having been conned left, right and center and no one really wanted to make a single except Kit Lambert whose job was to see that we did. We all got absolutely paralytic drunk one lunch time and by the time we arrived at the studio no one cared what we did. 'Magic Bus' was just a lot of fun -- Keith bashing about and 'Jes' [Jess Roden] from the Alan Bown Set singing in that Stevie Winwood-type voice on the record."
--Pete Townshend (1969)

According to engineer Damon Lyon-Shaw, this happened at the May 29, 1968 sessions and the recording was taken and never returned by Kit Lambert.

Released first in the U.S. as Decca 32362 on July 27, 1968 with the B-side "Someone's Coming", it reached #25 in the Billboard charts but went all the way to #10 in the Cash Box charts.
The U.K. release, on Track 604024 with B-side "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," followed on 18 September 1968 and went to #26.

One of The Who's most-often performed songs, usually during encores.

The version on the Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy LP is a rare long version in mono. All the 1990's reissued CD's have a shorter mono version. The shorter true stereo version which first appeared on the U.S. LP Magic Bus - The Who On Tour, was also used on the U.S. CD of Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy and is now available on The Who: The Ultimate Collection. The long version is only available on CD on the 1985 U.K. issue The Who Collection, as a bonus track on the Japanese issue of 2004's Then and Now and the 2007 Japanese issue of Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy.

Track #10 on My Generation - The Very Best Of The Who. (3'15)

From the Live at Leeds liner notes by Chris Charlesworth with additions by Brian Cady:

With its Bo Diddley beat and the scope it offered for stretching out on guitar, Pete lived to play 'Magic Bus' but John, anchored to a 'dub du-du du-du-dub dub' riff on A, hated it. There wasn't much opportunity for Keith either, but he always looked pleased as punch to be making silly faces and tapping away on his little wooden block while Pete and Roger swapped those preposterous lines about trading the magic bus in for 'one hundred English pounds.'

As a stage number, 'Magic Bus' became a crowd favourite if for no other reason than it was quite unlike anything else The Who ever performed. Like everything else on the original Leeds album bar 'Substitute,' the version here is extended well beyond its normal running time. It's also a great showcase for Pete and Roger is no slouch on harmonica.

The original recording was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios, London in the summer of 1968. It was released as a single on September 18, 1968 and it reached #26 in the U.K. charts. It was released earlier in the U.S., on July 27, 1968 and reached #25 in the Billboard charts and #10 in the Cash Box charts.

Pete wrote the song in early 1966.

On November 20, 1968, Moon was joined onstage during a 20-minute version of 'Magic Bus' by the Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones and the once and future Who drummers performed it together. This was the last track on the original LP and was 7'30. It is also the last track on the 1995 CD (track 14) where it clocks in at 7'22. The 7'30 was restored for 2001 CD where it appears at track 12 on disc one. The original performance at Leeds ran 9'41. Other live versions can be found on Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970, Who's Last (1982), the Who's Better Who's Best video (1972), The Blues To The Bush (1999) and The Who & Special Guests Live at the Royal Albert Hall video (2000).

The original release had a backward guitar track near the beginning that was removed for the 1995 issue.

"I produced Live At Leeds and I did a few repairs here and there. At one point in "Magic Bus," I cut out a bit where John and I and Keith went out of sync and to show that I'd edited it, I took four bars of it and turned it upside down so you know that there's an edit."
--Pete Townshend

The backwards guitar was removed and replaced with the original sound on both the 1995 and 2001 CD's.

Every day I get in the queue (Too much, Magic Bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, Magic Bus)
I'm so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, Magic Bus)
You house is only another mile (Too much, Magic Bus)

Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much, Magic Bus)
You'll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much, Magic Bus)
I don't want to cause no fuss (Too much, Magic Bus)
But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much, Magic Bus)


I don't care how much I pay (Too much, Magic Bus)
I wanna drive my bus to my baby each day (Too much, Magic Bus)

I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it ... (You can't have it!)
Thruppence and sixpence every day
Just to drive to my baby
Thruppence and sixpence each day
'Cause I drive my baby every way

Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus ...

I said, now I've got my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)
I said, now I've got my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)
I drive my baby every way (Too much, Magic Bus)
Each time I go a different way (Too much, Magic Bus)

I want it, i want it, I want it, I want it ...

Every day you'll see the dust (Too much, Magic Bus)
As I drive my baby in my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)

Go back