The Who Sell Out 50 years later: song by song discussion

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by NothingBrightAboutIt, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Lost among the Peppers and Pillows and Experienceds is the Who's third album, which turns a half century old next month, although critically acclaimed and a fan favourite (and my favourite), one lost among Tommy and Who's Next. But while Pepper gets all the glory in terms of concept albums, this one isn't far behind, actually being even more so of one.

    While the current Stones one is still going, and the Beatles one gets underway, let's do this! We'll do a track per day, commercials from Radio London included. Whoopee! So sit back and prepare for smooth sailing with the highly successful sound of wonderful Radio London...
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  2. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    [​IMG]

    From Wikipedia:

    Sell Out is the third studio album by the British rock band The Who, released on 15 December 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.[2] 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 1970s). It was the deodorant company, Odorono, who took offense that Chris Stamp made a request for endorsement dollars.[3] "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.

    Background[edit]
    In his book Maximum R & B, Who confidant Richard Barnes claims to have come up with the idea of the band recording commercial jingles after their cover of the Batman theme appeared on the Ready Steady Who EP. Barnes posited the idea to Roger Daltrey, whose similar suggestions to Pete Townshend were allegedly met with derision. [4]

    Initially, the band's follow-up to A Quick One was to be titled Who's Lily after their recent single "Pictures of Lily." Early cuts such as a cover of "Summertime Blues," the Coke jingles, and the instrumental "Sodding About," showed the influence of Track Records label-mate Jimi Hendrix on Townshend's guitar playing.

    Even before the group had formed, the members of The Who had been profoundly influenced by rock n roll appearing on the radio. The BBC did not broadcast much music at the time, which was left to stations like Radio Luxembourg and then pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline.[5] By the end of 1966, The Who had achieved commercial success owing to the mod movement that made up a significant section of the group's early audience. However, the movement was fading, and the TV show Ready, Steady, Go that had boosted the group to fame, had been cancelled.[6] The group started touring the US the following year, and started to achieve success with their live act.[7] In summer 1967, the group's managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp suggested the band could create a concept album based on pirate radio and structure it in the same manner as that, or a typical US AM radio station.[5] As pirate radio had been influential to mods, it was felt particularly appropriate to pay tribute to it.[8] As well as the music, the inter-song announcements and jingles were a key component of radio, so it was decided to include a selection of humorous asides on the album.[9] The Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into effect at midnight on 14 August 1967, outlawing all pirate stations and strengthening the album's effect as a tribute.[10] The aspect separated The Who from their contemporaries in the developing underground rock scene, both musically and stylistically.[11]

    The first song to be written specifically for the concept was "Jaguar", paying tribute to the car, which was quickly followed by an instrumental the group had recorded for Coca-Cola.[12] "Armenia City in the Sky", was written by a friend of the band, John "Speedy" Keen.[a] According to music critic Richie Unterberger, The Who Sell Out featured "jubilant" psychedelic pop music that veers between "melodic mod pop and powerful instrumentation",[13] while Edna Gundersen from USA Today said the album's style was power pop.[14]

    Having finished touring the US, including an appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, the group returned to the UK on 16 September to start recording. They made progress on the album for the next three weeks; the first song to be completed was the single, "I Can See For Miles", released the following month.[15] By October, the group had also completed "Armenia (City In The Sky)", "Early Morning Cold Taxi" and "Girl's Eyes".[16] "Heinz Baked Beans", "Odorono" and "Top Gear" had been completed mid-month, along with a series of linking adverts and jingles mostly recorded by Entwistle and Moon.[17] "Tattoo", "Odorono" and "Rael" were completed by 20 October,[18] Most of the remainder of the album was recorded in between live shows at the end of the month.[19] "Sunrise", a solo Townshend piece, was the last piece to be recorded on 2 November. The album was mixed by Lambert and Damon Lyon-Shaw intermittently throughout November, coming up with a finished master on the 20th.[20]

    Track listing[edit]
    All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted. The between song jingles apparently have no official titles and are not listed anywhere on the original album packaging (although they are listed in the inner booklet of the 1995 remaster).

    Side one
    No.
    Title Lead vocals Length
    1. "Armenia City in the Sky" (Speedy Keen) Daltrey and Keen 3:48
    2. "Heinz Baked Beans" (John Entwistle) Entwistle 1:00
    3. "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" Daltrey and Townshend 2:28
    4. "Odorono" Townshend 2:34
    5. "Tattoo" Daltrey, with Townshend 2:51
    6. "Our Love Was" (Original US LPs listed the title as "Our Love Was, Is") Townshend 3:23
    7. "I Can See for Miles" Daltrey 4:05
    Side two
    No.
    Title Lead vocals Length
    8. "Can't Reach You" (Retitled "I Can't Reach You" on various reissues) Townshend 3:03
    9. "Medac" (Entwistle) Entwistle 0:57
    10. "Relax" Daltrey, with Townshend 2:41
    11. "Silas Stingy" (Entwistle) Entwistle 3:07
    12. "Sunrise" Townshend 3:06
    13. "Rael (1 and 2)" (Retitled "Rael 1" on 1995 reissue) Daltrey 5:44
    Executive Producer: Chris Stamp
     
  3. fuse999

    fuse999 Forum Resident

    Location:
    usa
    I was 14 when I bought it in '67, it's still my favorite Who album and the only one I still play with any regularity. A brilliant concept with excellent songwriting, although I have never met anyone who has ever owned it. I don't think it was very big in Texas!
     
  4. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada


    And we start off with "Armenia City in the Sky", written (and co-sung with Daltrey) by future Thunderclap Newman member John "Speedy" Keen. Originally titled "I'm An Ear Sitting in the Sky" and based off a painting with the same title, the album opens up like no other Who album before it, with the radio jingle announcing "Monday...Tuesday...etc" before arriving in style with feedback at home on AM radio. If you're troubled, don't worry, the sky is glass, the sea is brown, and everything is upside down.

    Also, I've read that someone misheard the "freak out"s at the end as "eat your feet." Don't take that advice!
     
  5. CrazyBrown

    CrazyBrown Active Member

    Location:
    Bridgewater, NJ
    This was my introduction to The Who. As a kid, I was fascinated by radio and enjoyed the DJs and jingles/commercials as much as the music itself.

    My dad bought me a number of the Crusin' comps that replicated the famous DJs shows when I was 7 or 8. A few years later the expanded version of Sell Out was released and he bought me a copy in cassette for my birthday.

    I played it constantly learning every songs. Interesting enough, after being exposed to the expanded version, the original be 13 track album seems underwhelming and half baked since the jingles/commercials run dry by the end.
     
    Dog Ear and Dodoz like this.
  6. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    I absolutely love this album. I was also introduced to it with the expanded edition, but i'd been staring at this record cover for years, very intrigued and thinking "this Who album must be great"but I couldn't find any review of it (pre internet).

    "Armenia" is a very psychedelic opener, probably the most psychedelic thing the Who ever did. The vocals puzzled me for a long time, I wondered who sang the song.
     
  7. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    I've read that Side A and B were supposed to represent AM and FM radio, but I agree that it almost loses steam with the concept at the end. They could've snuck one of their Coke jingles after "Silas Stingy" or something.
     
    Rock66 and Dodoz like this.
  8. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Yep, I found an old SHF thread where it's theorized it's a combo of a few vocal tracks. I thought for the longest time that Moon sang it, but it's hard to debate that Keen is singing on it.
     
    Dodoz likes this.
  9. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France


    Petra Haden re-recorded the full album a capella.
    It could probably be synched to the original album as I heard she had "The Who Sell Out" on one track of her recorder as a reference.
     
  10. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    Some syllables are definitely very Daltrey-like but I was confused and thought Moon sang on it too.
     
    NothingBrightAboutIt likes this.
  11. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southwest
    What a cool record. There is really nothing else like it. "Armenia City In The Sky" is arguably the band's sole foray into psychedelia; it was not a direction they would return to, but they showed they could have delivered it as well as anyone.
     
  12. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    It's so strange (and sad) to think this album didn't really do too well commercially, at the time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
    Surferghost and Spazaru like this.
  13. Rock66

    Rock66 Well-Known Member

    There weren't too many successful Who singles in the U.S. when Sell Out was released. I Can See for Miles blew away much of the competition musically, but they didn't have the history in the U.S. that other groups had, which resulted in Sell Out being mediocre in terms of sales (some have blamed Decca for that as well). When I was finally able to buy my own music I didn't get Sell Out because Tommy and Who's Next were that platters that got most of the play in Chicago (with I can See for Miles being the exception). I finally got Sell Out and was pleasantly surprised. Very satirical and it rocked out when it needed to.
     
    WilliamWes and stetsonic like this.
  14. Dominick

    Dominick Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    This is one of the rare albums where I actually LOVE the bonus material.

    The cd version I have has Pete & Roger on the front while my vinyl copy has Keith & John. Please explain?
     
  15. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    I have this too, is yours the 1992 re-release?
     
  16. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    I don't even know to what extent "Sell Out" remained in print in some parts of the world. Once "Tommy" and "Who's Next" came out, "Sell Out" seems to have become an oddity, and I've never met anyone around me who was into the Who in the early 70s and liked/knew this album at the time.

    A friend of mine has this very common french budget compilation from 1971 on Impact, it has a lot of "Sell Out" tracks on it. I think it's safe to say this compilation was the introduction to "Sell Out" material for many people in France.

    [​IMG]

    It was also reissued in 1979.
    [​IMG]
     
    Spadeygrove, rd1, kevinsponge and 2 others like this.
  17. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Interesting find! Does it include the jingles?
     
    Dodoz likes this.
  18. Dominick

    Dominick Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I have 1995 cd and 2004 vinyl.
     
  19. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    I'll ask my friend! Sadly I didn't get to listen to it.

    Side 1 is all "Sell Out" material - side 2 has none! Strange sequencing.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    That's not a bad summary of Sell Out in one side! Although it's missing some of the top tracks, you get an idea of the album pretty much.
     
    Dodoz likes this.
  21. varitone

    varitone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lincs, UK
    Not seen any previous discussion, but my guess is that it is Daltrey singing over a Speedy Keen guide vocal. Hence you get a sort of Daltrey impersonation of Keen with a bit of the actual Keen still in the mix.

    And it's a very great opening track of a very great album.
     
    Surferghost, Dog Ear and Dodoz like this.
  22. signothetimes53

    signothetimes53 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burlington VT USA
    My favorite Who album, nothing else comes close. I still have my original 1967 copy bought when I was a freshman in high school. I got hooked on the Who when I heard "Pictures of Lily" earlier that summer on WKBW-AM out of Buffalo, the humor of that song immediately made me adore it. The ridiculously high camp humor of the Sell Out cover made me love it before I'd heard anything on it aside from the 45 "I Can See For Miles".

    "Armenia" in stereo? Love it, love it, love it, and the vintage radio jingles surrounding it, to this day I get transported back when I hear them and then that high pitched guitar whine of the Armenia intro.
     
  23. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    France
    The SOUND of "Armenia" must have been totally far out in 1967.It's still striking today.
     
    footlooseman, WilliamWes and ajsmith like this.
  24. qm1ceveb

    qm1ceveb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fort lauderdale
    Armenia City in the sky is an excellent song and album opener. Never knew that Keene was singing co-lead. In any case, this is the Who sound that I like most. Contrary to what has been posted, I do not find its style too different from other tracks in the album e.g. I can see for miles and Our love was, is.

    Bought the album in 1969 when I was visiting the U.S., just prior to the release of Tommy and it was very difficult for me to find a copy in the stores. My favorite Who album.
     
  25. signothetimes53

    signothetimes53 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burlington VT USA
    It stood out, yes it was distinctive, but it wasn't all that startling. Remember, just 3 months before, Jimi Hendrix "Purple Haze" was a big hit on AM radio, and THAT opened the door wide to new sounds.
     
    NothingBrightAboutIt and Dodoz like this.

Share This Page