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THE WHO SELL OUT

The Who

Proto-Prog


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The Who The Who Sell Out  album cover
3.52 | 147 ratings | 14 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1967

Songs / Tracks Listing

Radio London
1. Armenia City In The Sky (3:12)
Radio London
2. Heinz Baked Beans (0:57)
More Music
3. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand (2:04)
Premier Drums/Radio London
4. Odorono (2:16)
Radio London
5. Tattoo (2:42)
Radio London (Church of your choice)
6. Our Love Was (3:06)
Radio London (Pussycat)/Speakeasy/Rotosound Strings
7. I Can See For Miles (4:18)
8. I Can't Reach You (3:03)
Charles Atlas
9. Medac (0:57)
10. Relax (2:38)
Rotosound Strings (demo)
11. Silas Stingy (3:04)
12. Sunrise (3:03)
13. Rael 1 (5:44)
14. Rael 2 (0:47)
Top Gear
15. Glittering Girl (2:56)
16. Melancholia (3:17)
Bag of Nails
17. Someone's Coming (2:29)
John Mason's Cars
18. Jaguar (2:51)
John Mason's Cars (Reprise)
19. Early Morning Cold Taxi (2:55)
Coke 1
20. Hall Of The Mountain King (4:14)
Radio One (Boris Mix)
21. Girl's Eyes (3:28)
Odorono (Final Chorus)
22. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand (Alternative Version) (3:19)
23. Glow Girl (2:24)
Track records


Lyrics

Search THE WHO The Who Sell Out lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Pete Townshend / guitars
- Keith Moon / drums
- Roger Daltrey / vocals
- John Entwistle / bass

Releases information

1995 MCA with 10 bonus tracks

Thanks to micky for the addition
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THE WHO The Who Sell Out ratings distribution


3.52
(147 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(19%)
19%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (32%)
32%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

THE WHO The Who Sell Out reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars SELL OUT is the Who's strongest album from the 1960s. Not only does it feature the band at their (short-lived) psychedelic best (with "I can see for miles"), it also contains some of their most delicate love songs ("Our love was" and "Sunrise") and some of their most charming 'character' songs ("Mary-Anne with the shaky hand", "Tattoo" and "Silas Stingy").

Although you could write an extensive study of the way the Who incorporated commercials and radio jingles into this album, it's probably the final track of the original LP ("Rael pt. 1") which is the most closely related to classic prog. Its march-like, organ- driven sound foreshadows a lot of symphonic prog, most notably "Harold Land" by Yes and "Watcher of the Skies" by Genesis. "Rael" is also noteworthy because it includes the first appearance of the 'Sparks'-theme from Tommy, and because a certain Mr. PG decided, around 1974, to base an entire concept album on the adventures of a character with the same name...

The edition of SELL OUT under review contains a large number of bonus tracks, mostly of superb quality. However, it's worth pointing out that virtually all of these (plus most of the original album) are included in the superb 4-disc set THE WHO: THIRTY YEARS OF MAXIMUM R&B, which forms the best possible introduction to this seminal band.

Verdict: Excellent addition to any record collection, but not exactly essential to prog fans.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#129793) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2007

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Sell Out is where the tide began to turn for The Who. My Generation and Happy Jack had essentially founded hard rock, but now the band wanted more. Tuning in to the Haight-Ashbury scene left the with a desire to experiment. The result is an incredibly clever concept album full of proto prog sounds.

The concept revolvs around the idea of The Who, um, selling out to the Establishment. Fake jingles are thrown in with real songs, amny of which are Who staples. "I Can See For Miles" is the best Who song since "My Generation." Townsend decided to balance out "Pictures of Lily" with "Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand," thus making the Who the first band to pen masturbatory lyrics for both men an women. The times they are a-changin' indeed. "Sunrise" is incredibly tender and would sound out of place if not for the eclectic feel of the whole album. "Rael" is the proggiest song of the album, and it's sound is echoed in early prog.

The comparitive inaccessibility of Sell Out makes this the band's most overlooked album of the 60s. However, it is one of their finest. The off-the-wall concept is sure to please proggies, as will "Rael," but the band was on the cusp of something much bigger.

Grade: C+

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#129846) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is definitely holding some "concept" elements but I'm afraid that these will only please the die-hard fans of the band (to which I belong). It is by far their most psyche album (don't forget that "Sgt Pepper's..." also saw the light in 67).

If you want to listen to a pre-version of "Rebel Rebel", just get in "Armenia City In The Sky" and you'll know from where the riff comes from...

The psychedelia of one of their earlier song '"The Ox" is present almost during the whole album ("Odorono", "Tatoo", "Silas Stinge", "Surnrise" (an acoustic and childish song with some notes of "The Overture"...) Early Floyd as well as Jefferson Airplane fans will be pleased...

Lots of commercial jingles will make the listening of this album a funny experience.

"Mary..." with its sexually oriented lyrics is much more than a nice litlle tune (remember, we are in 1967).

Some "Tommy" (again) elements can also be found here (very short ones like at the end of "Our Love Was" and more extensively during "Relax" (for its mood).

I guess that little of you would have thought that The Who could be real close to the Floyd, right ? Well, just listen to the fabulous "I Can See For Miles" and you'll get there ! Fantastic beat and great drumming ("Astronomy Domine" or "Set The Control..." are not that far away).

The two transition numbers "Heinz Baked Beans" and "Medac" announce more to come in "Tommy" (but in general in almost all "concept" albums). An almost psychedelic / religious tune (another genre maybe ?) would also have fit on "Piper" without any problem. I'm talking about "Silas Stingy".

Again, "Tommy" is announced with "Rael 1" (the end of it is almost taken as such during "Overture" and "Underture"). This song was closing the original album.

This album is the least accessible of their first era. Only one super song "I Can See..." and lots of standard music like "I Can't Reach You". Two stars.

If you want to get the essence of their work, just grab a "Best Of". For maniacs, "Tommy", "Live At Leeds", "Who's Next" and "Quadrophenia" are of course essential.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#129972) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 23, 2007

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars With "Sell Out" The Who entered the upper echelon of rockdom. Everything about it is miles and miles better than their previous two energetic but inconsistent albums and even their harshest critics had to take notice. Is it a concept album? Not really. My thought is that Pete Townsend was so frustrated with their inability to achieve a number one single in the corrupt, payola- infested radio business of that era that he decided they would just create their own station complete with authentic-sounding commercials and incidental promotional spots placed between songs. In essence, satirically "sell out." Even the hilarious cover photos are a tongue-in-cheek slap in the face of crass consumerism. In the midst of all this witty sarcasm, though, they made one of the most creative, influential and yes, "progressive" albums of the 60s. Progressive rock is much, much more than just out-of-the-ordinary music. It is a state of mind. It's a matter of thinking outside the established box of normality and this record is all that and more. It is, in a word, incredible. And one hell of an entertaining ride.

Because radio never stops or even pauses you are greeted by a voice box reciting the days of the week ad infinitum before the band launches into the delectable psychedelia of Speedy Keene's "Armenia City in the Sky" featuring backwards guitar loops, a dense organ sound and a very trippy vocal from Roger Daltrey. It's acid rock at its finest. After a quick word from Radio London you are presented with John Entwistle's lively mock-commercial for "Heinz Baked Beans" that is quite reminiscent of the zany fun the group had on the previous LP's "Cobwebs and Strange." While the single "Pictures of Lily" is unashamedly about self- stimulation, the highly melodic "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand(s)" is the logical next step as it points out that the most popular girl in town isn't necessarily the prettiest or smartest but the one who knows how to please a man. The flamenco-styled guitar solo also reveals that Pete was not just a power chord maniac but a true guitar virtuoso, as well. The Who's playful humor is one of their most endearing traits and it's never as apparent than on the funny "Odorono" where the lady protagonist loses out after an important singing audition because, in the tragic end, her inferior deodorant lets her down. Keith Moon adds some dynamic, booming floor toms to spice up the otherwise smooth-flowing number.

Skin art is rather prevalent in the 21st century but back then it was still a taboo reserved for very tough sailors and such. Keep that in mind while listening to the wonderful "Tattoo" where two adolescent brothers decide to make the jump into manhood by acquiring one to the chagrin of their parents. "Dad beat me 'cause mine said 'mother'/but my mother naturally liked it and beat my brother/'cause his tattoo was of a lady in the nude/and my mom thought that was extremely rude." That's a great lyric and the over-the-top, aria-style backup vocal at the end is a hoot. After the nostalgic radio chorale reminds you to "go to the church of your choice" you are treated to the pure power-pop of "Our Love Was (Is)" which demonstrates Townsend's continuing advancements in understanding song structure and arranging with its cascading vocals and dramatic key changes. Love the fat guitar tones, too.

Preceded by a blatant pitch for Rotosound strings (wink, wink), the inimitable and huge E-chord onset of one of the greatest progressive rock songs of the 60s detonates as "I Can See for Miles" knocks the door down and ransacks your home. It doesn't follow the orthodox pattern of any rock & roll song of its day, it has Moon's rolling drums that spit out accents right and left, Pete and John's guitar sounds are monstrous, the complicated close harmonies of its chorus are unique and no other band has done anything that sounds even remotely like it before or since. It stands alone. You've also gotta love the "you've cheated on the wrong outlaw this time, missy" attitude that Daltrey delivers with a steely vengeance. It's an amazing piece of work. Pete's pensive "I Can't Reach You" follows and it's a much calmer cut that shows the bounding leaps they had made in their studio recording know-how and techniques. It's a pristine track about an old geezer who has a heartbreaking crush on a much younger babe but can't do a damn thing about it.

The scourge of acne is addressed in John's "Medac," a sure cure for that ailment (that will leave your mug as smooth as a baby's bottom) before you enter the psychedelic realm of "Relax," an organ-heavy tune that was probably inspired by Townsend's admiration for Syd Barret's Pink Floyd. Entwistle's "Silas Stingy" is next and its ironic twist is that miserly Silas is so worried about someone stealing his money that he spends it all trying to protect it. A swirling trumpet lead and very deep organ tones distinguish this memorable tune. If you need further proof of Pete's versatility and skill on guitar look no further than on "Sunrise," a flawless solo performance that is stunning. This poignant torch song is just flat-out gorgeous in its simplicity.

If you find their first mini-rock opera "A Quick One" a little too whimsical then "Rael" might be more palatable to your taste. However, if you are looking for a plot here you might save yourself some time because even Townsend himself has gone on record as saying that even he doesn't know what it's about exactly. (Rumor is that it has something to do with the Red Chinese eradicating all religion and, therefore, Israel) No matter, it is the obvious precursor to the full-scale behemoth that is "Tommy" and it is exhilarating in its combination of feels and textures. Face it, Pete was a visionary and an extraordinary trailblazer. This extended cut inspired countless musicians to break the three-minute barrier on a more consistent basis, thus paving the way for progressive music to blossom in general.

The 1995 reissue includes the psalm-like coda of "Rael 2," (which adds little to deciphering the mysterious story line) as well as some B-sides, outtakes and unfinished demos. Mixed in are more faux commercials that didn't make it through the final mix for products like Coke, Top Gear, John Mason's car dealership and the clever CD-ender for Track Records (only LP enthusiasts will get the joke, though). "Glittering Girl" is pedestrian British pop but "Melancholia" is an interesting track that seems to reflect Townsend's respect for operatic melodies and overwrought drama. Mexican trumpets are predominant in John's enjoyable "Someone's Coming," a cool ditty about a couple sneaking around to avoid the girl's suspicious father. Heavy drums and intense, screaming guitars characterize the odd "Jaguar" and a song written by Roger with one of the roadies called "Early Morning Cold Taxi" is dull and repetitive. Their rave up instrumental version of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" is suitably noisy and rowdy for four young men having a party in the studio, Moon's "Girl's Eyes" is predictably weak but charming, the alternate ending to "Odorono" adds nothing new to the song and the different recording of "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" (with Al Kooper on organ) is not as good as the earlier version. But it's "Glow Girl" with its macabre tale of a passenger on a plane that's about to crash that may be the most haunting. It contains yet another musical theme that will soon be part of "Tommy" except here Townsend sings "It's a girl, Mrs. Walker, it's a girl."

I just about wore through the grooves of my vinyl copy of this album and I must say that the remastering job that Macpherson & Astley did is remarkable in that they preserved the spirit of the recording while bringing up the little nuances that were hard to hear before. If there's an album that I would pick to justify The Who as being proto prog this one is it. There's not a Chuck Berry cover, a blues jam or a riff-based rock anthem to be found here, just inventive rock and roll with a very progressive attitude behind it. It will always be a masterpiece in my mind, regardless of how later generations may label it. Essential.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#130747) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 29, 2007

Review by The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Radio London reminds you: a 4.5.

Okay, I know that I'm supposed to think of this as a Sergeant Pepper album, but every time I hear it, I keep drifting back to Stand Up. For one thing, it's as varietous as hell, but secondly, and more importantly, compare the album to the previous effort, A Quick One, and you will be totally blown away that this is the same band. A Quick One was fun and experimental (like This Was), but patchy (like This Was). The Who Sell Out is fun, experimental, and it kicks ass. A LOT of ass. Supposedly "I Can See For Miles" prompted the Beatles to do "Helter Skelter," but the main difference is that the Beatles have to want to rock, the Who can do it in their sleep. And for that reason, I will always like the Who more; the Beatles can keep their tireless experimentation and sparkling melodies, I want pretentious headbangery!

Oh. Sorry. That became a sort of Who defense/Beatles attack. Back to the album.

The Who Sell Out also reminds me of another Tull album, one Thick as a Brick. Much like good ole Thick, this is a fairly comical attack on the music industry, the listening public, and the band itself, all provided by the concept of the radio station. And, much like Thick, this concept really holds the thing together.

The first sound you're hit with is a radio station ID. If you don't like it, well, then you'll probably hate the album; Pete always has been infamous for playing up the whole "concept" bit of "concept album." But what follows is psycho rocker "Armenia City in the Sky." The melody is okay, but all those feedback noises backed with Keith's bashing? Cool.

"Heinz Baked Beans" is just plain awesome. It's hardly a highlight, of course, since it's just a "commercial," but it's hilarious having Entwhistle play the mother (and of course, you know it's the lads themselves playing the brass band). "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" is an enjoyable folksy pop rocker. And yeah, it's about just what you think it's about.

"Odorono" is an okayish pop rocker that it totally made by the subject: it's a VERY thinly disguised commercial for deodorant. Hilarious lyrics. "Tattoo" is quite the opposite; despite the goofy lyrical matter, the tune turns out to be a very charming acoustic number. Everyone harmonizes with Roger to create a very pretty atmosphere.

"Our Love Was" largely what tattoo was; gorgeous atmosphere, except the tune is a little more thought out. And it's heavier; the guitar solo almost spoils it. Almost. But true heaviness is in the album's "classic" number, and probably the best song on it: "I Can See for Miles and Miles." That chuggin' intro is good enough, but the chorus with Roger wailing, Keith tearing his kit apart and Pete just banging out the same note over and over again? Fantastic.

"I Can't Reach You" though is not much worse; a gorgeous (and slightly heavy) piano rocker. There's true beauty in the descending chorus. "Medac" is an amusing, if throwaway, Entwhistle commercial. "Relax" is a fairly forgettable organ based rocker. There are some good ideas in it, but it's too repetitive for its own good. Another organ based rocker, the creepy "Silas Stingy" is an Entwhistle number. After goofy crap like "Boris the Spider," John doesn't disappoint; the chorus is surprisingly catchy.

The Pete solo number "Sunrise" is pretty, but it doesn't really do anything, pure atmosphere. I think it's okay, maybe you'll like it. Pete's second mini-opera "Rael" is a bit of a let down for me, at least compared to "A Quick One." It's certainly nobler, and the flow from tune to tune (movement to movement) is much more natural. But I just find it to be less memorable as a whole. Oh well, it's a decent album closer (I'm not saying it's evil or nothin'), and besides, some basslines got reused in Tommy or sumpthin'.

The little commercials within the songs are brilliant without a doubt; you'd hardly expect something so varietous to flow so well, but the ads create perfect little bridges that are, at the same time, enjoyable one their own ("Radio London reminds you...go to the church of your choice." Gets me every time!).

I still cannot believe that this album is another "Sergeant Pepper rip off." For one thing, it takes the concept seriously. A secondly, the concept. The company was ALWAYS after Pete to write something the public honestly wanted to hear, so this is effectively his way of saying, "Alright FINE! I'll give 'em a soulless pop album!" So the "Sell Out" part is both Pete's bowing to the company's desires, a hope for the fate of the album, and a serious insider joke. I mean, c'mon? The Who selling out? Never. Not a shred of artistic integrity is lost on the album.

And even if you don't like the music (which is...technically impossible, seeing as how there's so many styles explored anyways), you can't not love the cover. Roger in baked beans! Pete with a deodorant stick bigger than his nose! John in a jungle suit! The Dark Side of Keith Moon! Hmm...why does that sound so familiar...

(It seems that the lads recorded a lot more songs to fit into the concept, but not everything made it. The remaster is literally loaded with more songs and more commercials; the commercials are usually amusing (in fact, some of the "outtake" styled ones are downright hilarious), but the songs make it clear that (most of) the best stuff got on the album. Here we go. "Rael 2" is less than a minute long, but it somehow manages to be more memorable than the rest of the opera...why wasn't it included? Could the time restraints be that bad? Oh well. "Glittering Girl" is a solid pop rocker, but nothing special. "Melancholia" is, as the title suggests, a spooky rocker. Might have been a highlight for a lesser band, but for the Who, just decent. "Someone's Coming" is Entwhistle's, and it's actually kind of disappointing. Considering the subject matter, I'd have expected some dark humor injected in it. As it stands, the horns are fun, but there's not enough for the tune to stand on. "Jaguar" is a fairly straightforward rocker, once again, nothing special. "Early Morning Cold Taxi" is Roger's offering to the altar. It's okay, but it seriously stinks of the first part of "I Can See for Miles." Well, he was never the best songster. "Hall of the Mountain King" is the Who's bit 'o classical fusion. Which was, of course, not unheard of in the late sixties. However, Pete and the lads make this song their own; dig those sick basslines coupled with all that ghostly (eventually hilarious) wailing. Some have compared this song to early Pink Floyd, but it's way heavier than that stuff. Even Pete's soloing is cool; best bonus on the remaster. "Girl's Eyes" is a fun, if slightly throwaway, pop rocker from Keith. Cool acoustic soloing though (and dig the crazy drums). "Mary Anne with Shaky Hands" is an "(Alternative Version)." It's no worse, just a little less layered. "Glow Girl" is another operatic bit that found its way into Tommy. Now, this might not be the best, but surely all this makes you realize that the Who were one of, if not the, best bands on earth at that time; knock off some of the weaker Sells Out tracks and add "Mountain King" and "Rael 2" into the appropriate places, that thing would be literally perfect. Of course, the remaster as a whole is far from perfect, but still fun. No change in the overall rating, but a highly recommended archive document. Love those liner notes; read the story behind "Rael.")

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#132367) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 09, 2007

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Just like their preceding A Quick One, Sell Out didn't do that well back in those days, probably because it wasn't that obvious that the quartet was well ahead of their times in some ways. Indeed after the semi-conceptual Quick One with the title track the first rock- opera, with Sell Out we have a full concept album, but it got a bit over-shadowed by their non-album singles flying about and the future career-launching Tommy. Actually if Sell-out benefits of some newly acquired critical acclaim, it's partly because of a few hints to the upcoming Tommy album, namely Daltrey bathing in baked tomato beans and I Can See For Miles, a track that stands out here, but would've felt right at home in Tommy.

Based on the loose but story-less concepts of a hypothetical UK pirate radio and the spoof advertising, The Who tries to upstage Monty Python, but they never get close to Frank Zappa's humour in music, even though their attempts give most progheads a jolt or two. Of course one of The Who's advantage was to sound very different than most of their contemporary in 68: while most groups where increasingly heavier, much of The Who's music remains whimsically-tainted and lightly psychedelic pop-rock, even if they had an occasional violent outburst (My Generation or See For Miles) and Entwistle's frequent use of the horns gave them another edge that none other had. The Who sort of describe UK's pre-hippie era society (much the same way Genesis would with SEBTP in 73), but without being too much Swinging London either.

Mixing 50's and 60's radio-related ambiances throughout the album ensures enough of a unity for the other "songs" to melt together as one: Starting with Armenia City In The Sky where Entwistle's horns and Townshend's Hendrix-like guitar, the album is definitely a step up to what they'd been up to until now. The "radio interludes" are usually fairly experimental (the weekdays through electronic filters, rather filled with fun and sound collage that Zappa wouldn't disown. And as mentioned above we also get a glimpse of the future with See For Miles (the only hit from the album), that prefigures Tommy, with Townshend's energetic guitar crunches, Moon's incredible drum fills, but what's amazing here is that the sound is completely different, as if recorded in a different studio, a few years later.

Other tracks are still too much stuck in the mid-60's pop-like mode Mary Anne or Tattoo, but often not that straightforward, either. Medac, and Stingy are also up that alley, but somehow, you'd have to wonder if Daevid Allen didn't revisit this album before writing some of his RGI trilogy with GonG and in early Soft Machine. While The Who avoided endorsing too widely the then-over-powering psychedelia of the times, with some of their songs, they could easily match Floyd's Syd Barrett's "Emily Layne" and the Sell Out album can be considered their "Satanic Sergeant Pepper Majesty" album. The closing track, the two-part Rael tune, the first part is still too 60's-ish, while the second will be used as blueprint for Underture/Sparks of the Tommy opera.

The "Legacy" remastered series has the same bunch of bonus tracks from the mid-90's (which were adding much to the original album, since these "bonuses belonged to these sessions) reissue, but also sports a second disc offering the mono album and again another bunch of tracks, this time of a lesser interest. Coming in a superb double Digipak with an adapted booklet, it is too bad that the lyrics are absent. Sell Out is probably just as important as The Nice's Thoughts or Procol's debut (except that it wasn't a debut album) in developing the classic rock sound . Almost essential

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#238615) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What do I think of The Who? Quite simply, I think they are perhaps the best darned rock and roll band ever. Yes, The Beatles were bigger and more influential, the Stones had more staying power, sensuality and bad boy menace, Zeppelin more mystique (and maybe more stadium-shaking power), but no classic rock band has moved me through the years, and supplied the soundtrack of my youth, as The Who have.

I had a book about them as a young teen, I loved the movies, bought the T-shirts, played along with Pete Townshend on my air guitar, identified with the lyrics, bought the early solo albums, lived QUADROPHENIA when it came out, and like a good "mod" wannabe, wore 'my wartime coat in the wind and sleet.' To this day, I still love The Who, and I return to their classic albums again and again.

So, what of this album? Dating from the end of 1967, THE WHO SELL OUT is a brilliant, absolutely audacious pop masterwork and simply the most fun album The Who ever made. It's a fully-realized concept album that prefigures TOMMY -- and, for me, it's more successful than the flawed TOMMY in that its grasp equals its considerable reach. Here the working concept is much more straightforward than the visions of flawed messiahs, generational divide and roiling adolescent angst which would follow on TOMMY and QUADROPHENIA. Here, as the title implies, the concept is pop culture and commercialism. Listening to THE WHO SELL OUT, you are submerged in a simpler time, a pre-hippie 50s to early 60s pop world of the latest songs, soft drinks, skin care products, guitar strings, cars and... canned beans. The war is well over, folks are safely back to work, kids and teens are everywhere, and everything's for sale -- even rock and roll bands. Faux ads, jingles and songs are all seamlessly linked via the clever device of a supposed pirate radio broadcast on "wonderful Radio London -- the A.M. Sound."

THE WHO SELL OUT was re-mastered in 1995, and that's the version I'm reviewing here. This edition has 23 tracks compared to the original's 13, with loads of extra songs, alternate versions, jingles -- all recorded during the original 1967 album sessions. There's also a very interesting and thorough essay on the album and its place in pop history, plus extra artwork and liner notes.

The linking "radio" material (it is NOT filler!) is terrific, but the songs themselves include some of the strongest in The Who's catalog. First up is "Armenia City in the Sky," where Roger Daltrey employs the higher, almost feminine register he'd later largely abandon (proof that as a singer, he had more range than he's often credited with). Other standouts include that cheeky ode to a (ahem) handy gal, "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand," the masculine coming-of-age anthem "Tattoo," the sensitive Townshend-sung "Our Love Was" and, of course, the essential "I Can See for Miles." There's even a captivating multi-part mini "opera" about a troubled faraway fantasy land in "Rael 1," which was quite ambitious for its time. The best bonus track closes the album on an especially high note -- even if it's about a plane crash: "Glow Girl" dates from 1968, and first appeared on the B-sides and leftovers compilation ODDS AND SODS. It's a fabulous rocker that points the way to Tommy via its fadeout vocal of "It's a girl Mrs. Walker, it's a girl." If you've never heard this clever and unique album, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy ASAP! If you're already a fan, but don't own the newer, fleshed-out version, you need to get this edition for the full experience. If, lucky sod, you have this version, then what are you waiting for? Go put it on, crank it up, and smile! From 1967 to today, no album was ever more purely pleasurable than THE WHO SELL OUT. It's the most fun you can have at home with your clothes on, and a genuine vintage rock and roll masterpiece!

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#278953) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Selling out? Hardly. The first real Who classic.

1967 was one hell of a year for rock and roll. Most people would probably call this the first great Who album and a few call it the best Who album. The CD reissue contains extensive liner notes by Dave Marsh where he goes even further, calling it the greatest rock album of its era, better than Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds. I'm reading Marsh's biography of The Who as we speak and one thing I was not aware of was the amount of acrimony in this band. I don't know if they came to like each other later (haven't read that far yet) but in the 1960s, it's not a stretch to say the lads despised each other a good deal of the time. They fought openly, publicly, and even on stage. Depending on who you believe, there were times when Daltrey came to blows with Townshend. Moon was already getting out of control by the late 60s, the band were broke due to their massive instrument budgets, and Entwistle felt unappreciated in his contributions. The band were pressured to tour incessantly and come up with new singles to pay the bills. Its been said before that out of conflict can come memorable albums and here's another that supports the theory.

"Sell Out" is something of a concept album although not entirely. As Marsh notes it lacks a firm storyline from track to track, but the underlying theme is an homage to the late 50s-mid 60s period when kids were immersed in the hits and the transistor radio heyday. They masterfully constructed what feels like an evening listening to London pop radio, with each of the tracks separated by public address spots and commercial product jingles. These bits are brilliant as they teleport the listener directly to 1960s London and the songs themselves reflect the theme and the period very well. Musically the album is still removed from the raging rock they would become known for a few years later, though you can hear the seeds planted in the ominous opening of "I can see for miles." But most of the material here strikes me as just brilliant pop music with a bit of Beatles psych influence, although The Who never allows flowers and beads whimsy to take over the bus. Rather Townshend shows off a more sensitive side here with the gorgeous melodies of "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" and "I can't reach you." "Odorono" has a funny punchline ending but the song itself has a certain loneliness in an English "Eleanor Rigby" way. "Silas Stingy" is the closest we get to pure whimsical silliness but it works in this setting quite well. All of the members are really starting to discover their personalities on this album, you can hear it especially in a track like "Tattoo" which sounds like trademark Who. Moon is beginning to smolder, Daltrey is finding his classic wail, and Pete is gaining confidence big time as a songwriter.

While my initial reaction to Sell Out was disappointment, it was based on my expectation that The Who had to be loud and more like their 70s selves. But after some time I realized just how great this collection was despite the somewhat lighter touch. Many of the tracks, while they are sometimes dissed for being too simple, are highly memorable. This album captures a moment in time very well, as the innocence of the radio days were passing the torch to the counter-culture. Townshend handles the concept very well, paying tribute to something special without being overly sweet, and writing material that manages to sound fresh even today. It all makes Sell Out nearly essential to any comprehensive rock music collection. The 1995 reissue is the way to hear this album. It takes the original album's 13 tracks and adds another 10 quality songs all from the same era, many which could have been used on the album. I still prefer to listen to the original 13 but as far as bonus tracks go this is as good as it gets. Excellent liner notes with dates and places of recording provide ample documentation for the history geeks (like myself.)

"....it is testimony to the greatness of Sell Out that, on the spot, in the midst of all that tumult, they wrote such a beautiful epitaph....without denying the dark side, they got it right. They made the trivial sublime....capturing the moment, making treasure from trash." -Marsh from the CD liner notes

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#294086) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Opening with what must have been been one of the coolest beginnings to any album in 1967, a robotic voice naming the days of the week, this is the most consistent '60s Who album. I love all the fake radio segments and commercials in between the songs. If the Who weren't always progressive in a strictly musical sense, they certainly were in a conceptual one. This really must be listened to as album all the way through. I have the 1995 remaster and it is full of bonus tracks. In fact, I'm not even sure what the final song on the original LP was..."Sunrise" I guess. Which means there are 11 bonus songs here. Impressive considering the quality of this bonus stuff. Forget Tommy, they should have made this one into a double-album.

The only well-known song here is "I Can See For Miles" but it's not even the best song. The Who Sell Out contains, IMO, some of this band's all-time best songs like "Armenia City In The Sky", "Tattoo" and "Silas Stingy". In many ways you could say this album was the beginning of the band's 'golden era'(which ended with Quadrophenia). There is really not much more I can say about the original album, the bonus stuff deserves a seperate review of it's own!

So, let's go through the highlights of the bonus material shall we. "Rael 1" is a great example of 'proto-prog' from 1967. At the end of "Glittering Girl" there is a really rockin' song dedicated to Coco-Cola which goes: "Coke-after-coke-after-coke-after-Coco-Cola..." on and on. I could listen to this forever. "Melancholia" is one of the greatest things the Who recorded in the 1960s. "Someone's Coming" should have been a single. Love the horns here. "Jaguar" is another fine example of proto-prog. At the end of "Early Morning Taxi" we get another rockin' ode to Coca-Cola. The version of "Hall Of The Mountain King" here is excellent. Proof that the Nice were not the only British rock group at the time who could 'rock the classics'. The original album itself I would rate about 3.5, but with the bonus material it goes up to 4.5. So I'll give it this overall 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#304503) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Pushing ahead from the success of A Quick One, the Who tried for their first concept album - based around the idea of a faux Radio London broadcast (Radio London being a famed "pirate" radio station of the era - so called because it literally transmitted from a ship floating in international waters to get around broadcasting restrictions!). Probably the subject of some nostalgia for those who remember that era before Radio 1, where the pirate stations were the only source of much rock music on the airwaves and the UK government showed this silly reluctance to permit commercial radio stations to operate, but to be honest I find the concept tiresome; the reason I listen to albums and MP3s and the like is that I don't like the constant interruptions on the radio! As it is, as smart as some of the commercials and jingles are interspersed throughout the songs, I can't help but regard them as filler.

As far as the songs themselves go, they're a bit more of a mixed bag, perhaps because Pete Townshend had taken on more of the songwriting duties himself again and he was still honing his chops. Armenia City In the Sky is a suitably soaring opener, and I Can See For Miles is an exhilarating classic along similar lines. Pete's wry sense of humour is a bit more evident this time around, and not just on the adverts - Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand is very obviously a veiled reference to a girl with a talent for giving manual relief to her gentleman friends, whilst Tattoo is a hilarious ditty about getting body art and regretting it.

Things go to pieces a little on side 2. I Can't Reach You and Relax are phoned-in efforts which are competent but forgettable slices of Who-ish psych. John Entwhistle's Medac advert and his full song, Silas Stingy are too repetitive, and go on for far too long. Sunrise is an acoustic ballad which aims for "plaintive" and hits "whiny", whilst Rael is an interesting enough epic to end the album with but doesn't quite catch the imagination. About the only good thing I can say about the second side is that the pirate radio concept is almost forgotten. Very much a step back for the Who, this one.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#447961) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011

Latest members reviews

4 stars This set the path for the well-known "Tommy" but it is equally as great, another wonderful concept album bringing you back to the sixties by taking on the role of a pop radio station of that era refected through the minds of The Who! It's clever, genuinely funny and some songs are also very moving ... (read more)

Report this review (#610513) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Monday, January 16, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars They sell out? Does this mean they are even more pop punk? Fear not, friends. This is the natural progression from their last bland affair. First off, it is humorous, secondly, the band begins to grow as a whole. Opener is a solid pop rock song, with some fun to offer. The vocals seem to jum ... (read more)

Report this review (#212814) | Posted by Alitare | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first Who album with any prog, and boy what an album it is. Full of great vocal harmonies from Townshend and Entwiste, Roger Daltrey leads the way with his smooth, charismatic voice. Pete Townshend writes songs and interlude as if the whole album were an excerpt from a pirate radio station. Hi ... (read more)

Report this review (#154636) | Posted by The Ace Face | Friday, December 07, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I would call this album one of the weaker Who albums. While it is still a good album with a bunch of great songs but I would say that the bad outweighs the good a little on this one. The songs that bug me the most are Silas Stingy, Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand, Tattoo, and Our Love. While there a ... (read more)

Report this review (#146438) | Posted by TheMadCap | Monday, October 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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