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The Who - The Who Sell Out CD (album) cover

THE WHO SELL OUT

The Who

 

Proto-Prog

3.55 | 261 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

dvukelja
4 stars There was a lot going on in the musical world of 1967. The year that brought to the world the first albums from Pink Floyd and the Doors, Sgt. Pepper and Days of Future Past among many others. The Who Sell Out is another great title that came out in the said year, but unfortunately, often overlooked and rarely talked about, despite having some amazing tunes and being one of the first real rock concept albums, with a very original form. One can argue about the "progressiveness" of the songs, but if put in the context of the time of its release, there are some boundaries pushed, and isn't that what prog is all about? But I'm prolonging this, let's start with the album. So the album starts with the only song not actually written by a member of the band, "Armenia City in the Sky". I never really liked this one, it just sounds really different from the rest of the album and it would be kind of unnoticeable if it was removed from it. The second track "Heinz Baked Beans" opens the door for the "commercial" side of the album. But not commercial as in appealing to the masses, I mean literal commercials in song forms (and I don't mean jingles, because there's a lot of that too on the album). The finest of these three (Third is Entwistle-sung "Medac") is Townshend's "Odorono", telling the story of a singer on an audition, failing because she used an inferior deodorant, in a couple of verses with an interesting harmonic foundation based on sequencing seventh chords. "Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand" shows a gentler side of The Who. The song features acoustic guitars, interesting percussion (it almost sounds as Moon is playing the spoons, I wouldn't be surprised) and characteristical harmony. The song itself is pretty funny (it is a string of joke tracks: Beans - Marry Anne - Odorono - Tattoo), telling the listener that despite other girls have respectable qualities, Mary knows how to use her hands. It is the mocking of radio that is the real point of this album and it is done brilliantly through fake commercials and songs like this one. "Our Love Was" is another Townsend-sung simple song which has my favorite five seconds of the album, right there in the middle, the song stops and a Capella harmony kicks in, followed by a modulation. Brilliant. "I Can See For Miles" is the conclusion of the first side and it does and with a bang. If I have to pick one song to represent early Who, this would be the one. In my opinion the best performance by Keith Moon, fantastic vocals by Daltrey, very interesting harmonies in the chorus and that plain energy in the form of a song really wraps it up. Now, as much as I love this album and the first side is one of my favorite "proto-prog" album sides, I must say that the second side, despite having nice, catchy songs, isn't as interesting. I don't have much to say about the songs on it except the grand finale - Rael. "Rael" was Townshend's first idea for a rock opera (after writing the 9-minute "A Quick One While He's Away", arguably the first "epic") which was then scrapped, but parts of it were used for this album. For people that don't find The Who "prog enough", this song can prove otherwise. Despite being little under six minutes, it has several different parts, a story about a hero, vocal harmony, instrumental breaks... If it had been finished (with music in this style), I would have taken "Rael - the album" before "Tommy" any day, but that's for some other time. I conclude this rather longish review by saying that if the rest of the second side had been as good as the first one, this would be a five star album for me. This way, I give it four stars because it is something that every fan of proto-prog should hear.
dvukelja | 4/5 |

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