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


The Who



3.55 | 276 ratings

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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.

Warthur | 2/5 |


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