90. The Who - The Who Sell Out (1967)
1. Armenia City In The Sky
2. Heinz Baked Beans/More Music (Jingle)
3. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand/Premier Drums/Radio London (jingles)
4. Odorono/Radio London (jingle)
5. Tattoo/Radio London (Church Of Your Choice Jingle)
6. Our Love Was
7. I Can See For Miles/Charles Atlas (Jingle)
8. I Can't Reach You
11. Silas Stingy
13. Rael 1
Now here's an album with novelty value. The Who quite smartly decide to "sell out" and create an album which is almost like the recreation of a radio program, with jingles, adverts and songs. These are actually quite funny/weird and are well done, but there is more than novelty value here. The Who are able to create a wide variety of music while still being quite good at all of it. On track 3 they mimic the Byrds for example, and do it perfectly.
This is a very good album, and in my opinion much better than My Generation, the conceptual idea behind it is strong and it's here that you see the door opening up to stuff like Tommy. There are some really good tracks here, I have a special place in my heart for Silas Stingy but I Can See For Miles is great rock and their biggest hit in the US.
The Who are not one of those bands that easily overwhelms you, and the very concept that makes this album so strong is also its downfall. After a few times of listening to it the interjections are a bit tiring and you just want to listen to the music. Which is quite a compliment. It is also a not very coherent album, but I think that is part of the idea behind it, a radio does not pass uniform music, so it kind of works in the end. Stream it from Napster or buy it at Amazon UK or US.
1. I Can See For Miles
2. Our Love Was
3. Silas Stingy
4. Armenia City in The Sky
The cover is divided into panels featuring each of the band members, two on the front and two on the back. Front: Pete Townshend applying Odorono brand deodorant from an oversized stick; Roger Daltrey sitting in a bathtub full of Heinz baked beans. Back: Keith Moon applying Medac from an oversized tube; John Entwistle in a leopard-skin Tarzan suit, squeezing a blonde woman in a leopard-skin bikini with one arm and a teddy bear with the other (an ad for the Charles Atlas course mentioned in one of the album's faux commercials). Originally Moon was seen applying a tube of Clearasil, but the manufacturer objected and the cover was changed for the US and subsequent editions.
This the Who’s third release is an interesting album and lays down the foundation of the Who as we think of them today. Pete Townshend has said that the “Who Sell Out” is a concept album paying tribute to pirate radio stations. It’s not a ‘concept piece’ as we generally think of when we thing of Townshends later works (Tommy; Quadrophenia, etc) as there is not a story being told here - but the addition of fake jingles and commercials which link the songs gives the record an overall common ‘theme’.
If you overlook those jingles (not that they are bad or anything like that) this is a great set of songs and a great record overall. "I Can See for Miles", "Armenia City in the Sky" and “Tattoo" are all just excellent tracks. To cap off the record is "Rael" which is a mini-opera, with some music themes that would reappeared as part of “Tommy”.
The album's release was not surprisingly followed by a handful of lawsuits - due to the mention of real-world products in the fake commercials - and on the album’s cover art. They were also sued by the makers of the real Radio London jingles claiming The Who used them without permission.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 113 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. While not the version reviewed here – I advise you to seek out the CD reissue of the record which adds some alternate versions as well as some unused jingles. It is recommended.
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