The Who: Pinball Wizard (John Entwistle’s Isolated Bass)

No isolated bass week would be complete without including John Entwistle. Here’s The Ox’s isolated bass track on “Pinball Wizard”…

The creator of this track says it was taken from a live version of the track, and not the studio recording. That would explain why the bass starts at the 36 second mark, and not a few seconds earlier.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Smells fake to me for several reasons:

    1. Entwistle always plays “Pinball Wizard” with a pick. This sounds fingerstyle.
    2. Live, Entwistle always played the guitar riff through the first and last verses, not the recorded bass line.
    3. The drum fills sound nothing like Keith Moon.

    I listened at work through cheap computer speakers, but I bet a quick listen with headphones would reveal that it’s not the Who in the background. I think this is a recording of the guy who posted the video.

    • Matt

      To me, this seems more like the bass from the original album recording and NOT a live track: John does not play over the intro guitar riff — covered by electric guitar on the studio track — and while he does always play the song with a pick in live settings, we are talking about Entwistle, who was constantly changing up his sound and playing technique, so I feel that there is a possibility of there being a difference. Look at My Generation, for instance. At different points in the Who’s career, he goes from fingers-style to pick back to finger and to pick and then to that crazy typewriter technique, etc. To me this sounds more like a very percussive finger-style technique, which he has been known to use…

      As for the backing track, it is possible that what we are actually hearing is the bleed through from the original Townshend demo recording of the song, which would explain the different vocals and tame drum fills. Also note the fade-out on the static chord, where in live situations the outro was often cut short by a change of chord.

      While I share some of your/other posters’ skepticism, I really do think that this is John playing this track and that this is not a live track, but rather the studio version of the tune.

  2. Moe

    Your right about playing this with a pic I looked through video’s of him playing this live and only one I found from 69 off The Tom Jones Show does he not use a pick!!

  3. jeff

    100% fake. Vocals are a joke bass line is NOT correct during the refrain by a LONG shot. I guess we got fooled again…

  4. Danny Ox

    100% fake. This is definitely played with a pick, but it’s not an Entwistle line. Backing track also definitely not The Who!

  5. kevinmc52

    Lame. JAE didn’t play lame.

  6. jgrow2

    I will just leave this here…

    Well, whomever’s playing this bassline, they’re using a P-Bass, slapping/plucking the strings about the same way John did in those days. The Who laid down tracks using Pete’s demos as a guide, which is why you’re hearing Pete’s voice under there. Listen to his “Pinball Wizard” demo from Another Scoop and you’ll hear the same inflections.

    What might also be confusing the issue for others is that, well, if it is John, this is before he played it live hundreds of times. It’s not as slick as he’d be at Woodstock for example.

    Incidentally, he recorded Tommy with the “Frankenstein” P-Bass he used almost exclusively from 1968 to 1971, and played live with that same bass. This sounds a lot like that bass.?

  7. LOL! Yeah…I smell “fake” as well! I’d be shocked if this were sir John Entwistle playing. The time feel is not very good, the tone isn’t horrible, but…P Bass or his Alembic, it sounds amateur to my ear. The note choices certainly fit the chord changes, but I am not convinced it’s what John’s vocabulary and phrasing sound like. Nice try…but, I have my doubts about this isolated bass line’s validity. Does not affect my love for the “No Treble” website! Great site guys!!!

  8. This track is extracted from Rock Band 2. If you hear the tracks solo, and then put them all together, you can tell they’re the real ones. Pure magic!

  9. jgrow2

    So I listened very closely to the track from Tommy, and to this, and I do believe this is the bass line from the studio version of “Pinball Wizard,” or a take from that session.

    As I’ve said before, the bass tone and the playing style are consistent with Entwistle’s technique and instrument from the period, and to the bass tone on the album itself, where it’s audible. Also the recording technique the Who employed included Pete’s demos as their basic track to build upon, as this seems to.

    The mistake others here might be making is confusing this with the work Entwistle did in live versions later on, and with higher quality instruments (i.e. Alembics). Short of having the multi-track masters to listen to, it sounds like The Ox to me.

  10. jgrow2

    Here is a track taken from the SACD version of Tommy, by the way. Might be another one for Isolated Bass week sometime…

  11. Rob

    Wow…this is 100% totally fake. Can’t believe you guys would keep this up on your web page.