The Who – The Who Sell Out (Album Review)

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Rating: 9/10

Tired of all those mid-60’s by-the-numbers psychedelic albums? Sick of having to decipher their pseudo-philosophical lyrics only to find out that they mean nothing? Do not despair. With The Who Sell Out you can now have a psych album that’s both funny and rocking!

A band that had been in the business for 3 years by then, The Who previously brought you hits like I Can’t Explain, My Generation and I’m a Boy. But this is the first time an album of theirs feels like a cohesive whole.

But wait, there’s more: their re-creation of radio-inspired commercials and public service announcements makes The Who Sell Out one of the earliest examples of a concept album!

And then there’s the songs themselves. With one weird guitar trick Townshend makes Armenia City in the Sky the band’s most psychedelic song of all-time.

Odorono starts out as a bit of storytelling, with a famous singer as the main character. You won’t believe what happens next!

You won’t be able to get the choruses of Tattoo and I Can’t Reach You out of your head!

In Sunrise Townshend accomplishes more with just an acoustic guitar than most bands do with dozens of instruments and overdubs. Singer-songwriters hate him!

Or are you more of a rock ‘n’ roll guy? Are power chords and heavy drums your thing? Rest assured – I Can See for Miles will restore your faith in The Who as a heavy band.

Don’t hesitate to buy the 1995 reissue of the album and you’ll get 10 bonus songs for the same price! Or the 2009 deluxe edition with both the mono and stereo mixes plus a whole lot of outtakes!

Side effects include a newly found appreciation for the band’s early pop period.

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16 replies

  1. Great review. My favorite though continues to be the extremely underrated Quadrophenia. I guess it was the time it came out; although written before Tommy, it was released when a certain fatigue about single-narrative and rock opera albums was beginning to settle in. But It definitely beat the test of time: a recent hearing revealed even more multilayers. Pete and Roger seem to love it too, and recently performed it on tour in its entirety. Sadly, I missed it. But with half of band gone, it’s simply not the same (my way of comforting myself): a lot of it is built upon the talents and creative input of Pete Moon and John Entwistle. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of their best albums definitely. And that 1995 reissue was so well done, adding tracks without diluting the concept, strengthening it in fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great band and this may be one of their best songs. It is hard to choose, though.

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  4. I reviewed this one too a while back. Agreed. Terrific album. I Can See For Miles is as good now as it was then. I was always a Who fan but they have only grown in my estimation over time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for reminding me how great this album was and is. Fun, power, beauty, all at once.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the tambourine in I can’t reach you too – can’t get that out of my head either!

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  7. The Who are an interesting journey. By the time CB got around to getting this album , they doubled it up with ‘A Quick One (Happy jack)’. An original Twofer. After being brought to The Who via ‘Live at Leeds’ going back and finding these records was like discovering treasures. Just part of the Who’s history. Liked the whole concept. They always had a sense of humor which is refreshing. ‘Mary Anne’ ‘Our Love..’ ‘Miles’ and ‘I Can’t Reach You’ are etched in CB’s music soaked brain. Keep pulling gems like this out and I’ll be back for some more visits.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really listened to The Who. Don’t quite know why, as loads of folk tell me they’re a band I’d dig. I keep threatening to get an album or two, but I haven’t yet…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Always fun to listen to, very varied in a Beatlish way, and those pirate radio jingles bring back my Norf London youth!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have been a longtime Who fan. I saw them twice in concert. Once with Keith and once without. Amazing performers. Maybe the greatest show band ever. my all time favorite album by the Who is their masterpiece, “Who’s Next”. Love Tommy and Quad. But Who’s Next is in a totally different level.

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