Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Who - 1967 [1995] "Sell Out"

The Who Sell Out is the third studio album by English rock band The Who, released in 1967 by Track Records in the UK and Decca Records in the US. It is a concept album, formatted as a collection of unrelated songs interspersed with faux commercials and public service announcements. The album purports to be a broadcast by pirate radio station Radio London. Part of the intended irony of the title was that the Who were making commercials during that period of their career, some of which are included as bonus tracks on the remastered CD.
The album's release was reportedly followed by lawsuits due to the mention of real-world commercial interests in the faux commercials and on the album covers, and by the makers of the real jingles (Radio London jingles), who claimed the Who used them without permission. (The jingles were produced by PAMS Productions of Dallas, Texas, which created thousands of station ID jingles in the 1960s and '70s). It was the deodorant company, Odorono, who took offense that Chris Stamp made a request for endorsement dollars. "I Can See for Miles" was released as a single and peaked at #10 in the UK and #9 in the US.
The Who Sell Out received widespread acclaim from critics, some of whom viewed it as the Who's best record and one of the greatest albums of all time.

The Who Sell Out's pirate-radio concept goes south in the album's second half--the Who ran out of time before they could write enough faux commercials--but it still remains in many ways their best and most entertaining album. Pete Townshend and John Entwistle supply song after great song, and along with Keith Moon play them with power and focus. The classic single "I Can See for Miles" is matched on at least a handful of tracks, including the opening psychedelic-pop blast of "Armenia City in the Sky" (written by Townshend pal Speedy Keen), the hilarious social-interaction tales "Odorono" and "Tattoo," and the majestic mini-opus "Rael." This remaster's bonus tracks are occasionally too much of a good thing, but the Tommy rough draft "Glow Girl" is brilliant.

The Whos third album was produced by Kit Lambert and released by Track Records in December 1967 (Track 612 002 [mono] & 613 002 [stereo]). The first CD version was issued by Polydor in the early 1980s (835 727-24) and a remastered version came out in 1995. The remastered version was produced by Jon Astley. In the US THE WHO SELL OUT was released in January 1968 (Decca DL 4950 [mono], DL 74950 [stereo]) followed by the CD (MCA MCAD-31332) in the 1980s and remastered CD (MCAD-11268) in 1995. Accurately predicting the modern-day trend for commercial sponsorship of rock, the songs on the first side of THE WHO SELL OUT are linked together by spoof commercials similar to those heard on contemporaneous offshore pirate radio stations. The eye-catching sleeve design also enforced the sell out concept, with the members of the group promoting some of the products referred to on the record: Roger sits in a tub of baked beans (he caught mild pneumonia sitting in the cold tub during the shoot), Pete uses an underarm deodorant, Keith applies spot cream, and John extols the virtues of a body building course. (The basic cover was sometimes altered: in Canada, legal complications initially blocked the use of Charles Atlas and the caption for John was changed to Isometrics and in Australia, Keith was given a large tube of Clearasil to hold instead of Medac.) The original sleeve design was by David King and Roger Law and photographed by David Montgomery.

Pete Townshend originally planned The Who Sell Out as a concept album of sorts that would simultaneously mock and pay tribute to pirate radio stations, complete with fake jingles and commercials linking the tracks. For reasons that remain somewhat ill defined, the concept wasn't quite driven to completion, breaking down around the middle of side two (on the original vinyl configuration). Nonetheless, on strictly musical merits, it's a terrific set of songs that ultimately stands as one of the group's greatest achievements. "I Can See for Miles" (a Top Ten hit) is the Who at their most thunderous; tinges of psychedelia add a rush to "Armenia City in the Sky" and "Relax"; "I Can't Reach You" finds Townshend beginning to stretch himself into quasi-spiritual territory; and "Tattoo" and the acoustic "Sunrise" show introspective, vulnerable sides to the singer/songwriter that had previously been hidden. "Rael" was another mini-opera, with musical motifs that reappeared in Tommy. The album is as perfect a balance between melodic mod pop and powerful instrumentation as the Who (or any other group) would achieve; psychedelic pop was never as jubilant, not to say funny (the fake commercials and jingles interspersed between the songs are a hoot). [Subsequent reissues added over half a dozen interesting outtakes from the time of the sessions, as well as unused commercials, the B-side "Someone's Coming," and an alternate version of "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand."] 

Track Listing:

01    ARMENIA CITY IN THE SKY
02    HEINZ BAKED BEANS
03    MARY ANNE WITH THE SHAKY HAND
04    ODORONO
05    TATTOO
06    OUR LOVE WAS
07    I CAN SEE FOR MILES
08    I CAN’T REACH YOU
09    MEDAC
10    RELAX
11    SILAS STINGY
12    SUNRISE
13    RAEL 1
14    RAEL 2
15    GLITTERING GIRL
16    MELANCHOLIA
17    SOMEONE’S COMING
18    JAGUAR
19    EARLY MORNING COLD TAXI
20    HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING
21    GIRL’S EYES
22    MARY ANNE WITH THE SHAKY HAND (Alternative Version)
23    GLOW GIRL

Personnel:

    Roger Daltrey – lead and backing vocals, percussion
    John Entwistle – bass guitar, backing and lead vocals, horns, sound effects
    Pete Townshend – lead guitar, backing and lead vocals, keyboards, pennywhistle, banjo
    Keith Moon – drums, backing vocals, percussion, sound effects, lead vocals on "Jaguar" and "Girl's Eyes"
    Al Kooper – keyboards, organ

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Hello Crimhead420, there are just dead links? Any chance of re-up?

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  2. Any chance of re-up these too?

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  4. Thx for the new links Crimhead420. Cheers

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