Backing track recorded at CBS Studios, London, May 1967. Vocals recorded at Talentmasters, New York, Aug. 6-7, 1967. Final mix at Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles, September 10, 1967.
It was released on October 14th, 1967 in the U.K. and reached #10 in the U.K. there. The U.S. had the earlier release on September 18, 1967. It reached #9 on the Billboard charts and #8 on the Cash Box charts.
Pete: "To me it was the ultimate Who record yet it didn’t sell. I spat on the British record buyer."
[The single version featured a louder bass guitar mix. In addition, on October 10th, 1967, John overdubbed a much louder bass guitar for a BBC alternate subsequently released on The Who: The Singles LP and the BBC Sessions CD. The Who with Keith Moon only performed this live during late 1967-very early 1968. It was not revived until after his death.]
From the Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy liner notes by Brian Cady:
Produced by Kit Lambert. Backing track recorded at CBS Studios, London, May 1967. Vocals recorded at Talentmasters, New York, Aug. 6-7, 1967. Final mix at Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles, Sept. 10, 1967.
"The real production masterpiece in the Who/Lambert coalition was, of course, ‘I Can See For Miles.’ The version here is not the mono, which is a pity because the mono makes the stereo sound like The Carpenters. We cut the track in London at CBS Studios and brought the tapes to Gold Star studios in Hollywood to mix and master them. Gold Star has the nicest sounding echo in the world. And there is just a little of that on the mono. Plus, a touch of home-made compressor in Gold Star’s cutting room. I swoon when I hear the sound. The words, which aging senators have called ‘drug oriented,’ are about a jealous man with exceptionally good eyesight. Honest."
"I Can See For Miles" was first released in the U.S. as Decca 32206 and hit the charts on October 7, 1967 reaching #9 on the Billboard charts, the highest ranking for any Who single. In Cash Box, it went to #8. The B-side was "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands."
In the U.K., it was released as Track 604011 on October 14, 1967 with the B-side "Someone’s Coming." Pete was certain it would make it to #1, but it only reached #10, tieing with "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" as their poorest British chart performance to date. It caused Townshend to undergo a complete lack of confidence in himself as a writer of singles. He soon after turned to the idea of a full-scale opera. Claiming it was too complex to perform live with just one guitar, bass and drums, The Who stopped performing this live after a few dates in late 1967, reviving it only after Keith’s death when the band was augmented by keyboards and horns.
Track 9 on My Generation – The Very Best Of The Who. (4’21)