My garage-rock/psychedelic collector-dweeb friends (and I am fairly dweebish in this regard, so don’t take that as some kind of slight) will accuse me of taking the week off, because this one’s a low-hanging plum to pick. But I’ll hazard a guess that few people outside the clique know the E! True Hollywood Story behind “The Magic Bus.”
The Who, it turns out, wasn’t the original recording artist. Tis true, Pete Townshend wrote the song somewhere around 1966. He cast it aside, completely consumed with this rock opera thing he was writing about some goofy Helen-Keller-as-pinball-messiah dude.
Some months later, while he was still engrossed in writing this damfool Rube Goldberg musical contraption, the label got a tad antsy about the fact there wasn’t much Who musical output. Oh bloody hell, Townshend said, and cranked out a series of singles to satisfy his band’s obligations, “Magic Bus” being one of them, and the rest is history.
In the meantime, a no-hit wonder band called The Pudding had recorded the first version, which came and went without much fanfare. Clearly, Townshend had published the song with a pretty clear and detailed arrangement, because it’s amazing how it’s not so far from The Who versions–and The Pudding had no single to mimic.
The Pudding and a blue million other unknown–but totally great–English garage-psych bands of the 1960s are memorialized on the Rubble Collection, a 20-CD set guaranteed to sate the appetite of even the most hardcore geek of the genre…at least for a few days. The set’s chopped into two halves; “Magic Bus” is on Rubble Collection, Vol. 1-10. The rest of the set, Rubble Collection, Vol. 11-20, is equally awesome.