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

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

  1. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    The Who Sell Out has been an absolute favourite of mine since I bought my first copy as a budget cutout (like for 99 cents or something) on US Decca in 1971. In fact, it vies for my No. #1 Who fave LP along with Who's Next. I still have multiple copies of the LP. Just as an aside, my favourite press is the US Decca stereo from among the US Decca and UK Track monos and the US and UK Track stereos. Haven't heard all the various other presses...I have the German Phases box back home in storage and some of those in that set are well regarded...I just can't remember how they sound.

    The opening days of the week bit and the segue into Armenia City in the Sky is a fantastic slice of popsike. The instrumental backing track is it along with the rest of the album.

    IMO The Who Sell Out was overlooked for decades for much the same reason The Rolling Stones Their Satanic Majesties Request was given short shrift for so long -- these psych outliers didn't fit the critics' narratives. It's different now, of course, especially with The Who Sell Out as it's now much better regarded than in times past.
  2. Dodoz

    Dodoz Forum Resident

    How many mixes of the album are there? Mono, stereo, stereo remixed or more complicated (mono UK, mono US) ? (Also, there are different versions of "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand").
    Shaddam IV likes this.
  3. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    'Armenia' always sounded more like glam - rock from about 6 years later to me than psyche. It strongly reminds me of things like The Sweet's 'Blockbuster' from 1973.

    Interesting to learn that Speedy Keen is on co lead vocals - the vox on this album as a whole have always been a source of mystery to me. Never sure when it's Townshend singing or Daltrey singing copying Townshends demo to the letter. With a few exceptions like 'Tattoo', Daltrey is at his least Daltrey - ish on this album.
  4. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    The title City in the Sky and the music seem to go well together!
  5. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Didn't know about it originally being called 'I'm An Ear Sitting In The Sky'! Very interesting. Would love to see the painting!

    Something about the concept behind 'Armenia'.. when I was a kid I had a book of world knowledge and interesting facts, and it had a feature on a city somewhere in the world (can't recall where, but could easily have been Armenia) that was subject to a natural optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions that meant that when viewed from a distance the reflection of the city would appear in the clouds above, creating the visual effect of a 'city in the sky' above the real city.. when I first heard 'The Who Sell Out' as a teenager, I assumed it was a direct reference to this phenomenon, but since then I've not been able to find anything online about a real city subject to this illusion, and the background to the Who song seems to suggest it wasn't in fact written with such a thing in mind, which was kind of disappointing to me.. does that story about a real city in the sky illusion ring a bell for anyone here or is my mind playing tricks?

    Anyone know if they ever played 'Armenia' live? Seems like it would have worked really well. Shame it's never been revived even.
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  6. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    According to Wiki:

    "Armenia City in the Sky" was, apparently, inspired by a long-lost painting back in the 1960s. Though Pete Townshend, principal songwriter for The Who, claims that when Keen saw the name of the song on an album liner, he told Townshend that the name of the song was wrong. It should have read "I'm an Ear Sitting in the Sky".

    And pretty cool, I've never heard about that phenomenon, perhaps they closed their eyes and thought of it? ;)
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  7. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Music Appreciator

    Eastern Iowa
    Mono 1967
    Stereo 1967
    Stereo remix 1995

    Mary Anne:
    1967 mono LP
    1967 stereo LP
    1995 stereo remix
    US mono single mix, which is an entirely different take
    Alternate version with Al Kooper on organ
  8. Tom Kitch

    Tom Kitch Well-Known Member

    I originally picked this up when it was offered as a two for one LP packaged with A Quick One. My third favorite Who studio LP overall.

    I haven't ever heard a live version of The Who doing Armenia, but Sugar opened with a pretty killer version on their first tour.

  9. mBen989

    mBen989 Forum Resident

    Scranton, PA
    Cool idea for a thread!

    The fact that The Who Sell Out still works as a concept all these years later tells you how little Top 40 radio has changed. (Yes, I'm aware it's really a loving homage to pirate radio which at the time was going the way of the dodo)

    This is easily one of my top three Who albums (along with Who's next and Quadrophenia).

    "Armenia" shows how The Who had incorporated psychedelia into their patented brand of power pop.
  10. ShockControl

    ShockControl Forum Resident

    Side 1 is amazing.

    Side 2 could have been amazing. It can be amazing now that the rejects are available.

    The best versions are the original mono and the stereo remix. The original stereo mix sucks.
  11. qm1ceveb

    qm1ceveb Forum fanatic

    Fort lauderdale
  12. qm1ceveb

    qm1ceveb Forum fanatic

    Fort lauderdale
    The whole album is amazing except for Silas Stingy.
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  13. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    I know, but I assumed the song was talking about a city in Armenia .. that the title was poetic license for 'That Armenian city that's in the sky'.
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  14. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Honestly, the lyrics make more sense with the original title (the ear in the sky is listening to the singer's troubles?), but I love the abstract idea of a city in the sky being the answer.
    ajsmith likes this.
  15. 131east23

    131east23 Person of Interest

    I'm from Texas and I own it.
  16. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    It was the 'everyone is upside down' line that really seemed like the smoking gun when I first heard the song.. weird how I came to what seemed like an obvious conclusion like that and then later discovered that it was not actually the case....
  17. Flippikat

    Flippikat Forum Resident

    Great album, really glad to see it getting a critical reappraisal in recent years. It has a great blend of power-pop, psychedelia and lush harmonies - is it just me, or is there a big Beach Boys influence there in the vocals on Sell Out?
  18. Nick Dunning

    Nick Dunning Forum Resident

    Sequencing, and the addition of the superb 'Sunrise' to the running order was done at the last possible minute, which may account for this.
  19. NothingBrightAboutIt

    NothingBrightAboutIt Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Also, I forgot to add the recording info for "Armenia", I'll do that for future songs.

    "Armenia City in the Sky" was recorded at IBC, London, October 1967.
    Nick Dunning likes this.
  20. Nick Dunning

    Nick Dunning Forum Resident

    The non-inclusion of 'Jaguar' mystifies me.
  21. Nick Dunning

    Nick Dunning Forum Resident

    Bought the 'Quick One'/'Sell Out' 2LP set unheard when I was about 13. Cycled home with it strapped to the rack on the back of my bike. Loved the record, instantly. Still do. I like them all, but this is my favourite Who LP.
  22. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Akron, OH
    I love all the pre-Tommy albums, but this one was my first exposure to The Who (except for "Happy Jack" on the radio). Still by far my favorite of ALL their albums.

    Tommy was a huge letdown for me. All the fun seemed to have gone out of the music, and no band was more fun than The Who until the Bonzos came along.
  23. Spazaru

    Spazaru Angry Samoan

    I was raised on this album in Texas. My uncle bought it new in 1967 and I was probably 8 or 9 in the late 70s when he turned me onto The Who in general and this album in particular. I'm pretty sure it was as big in Texas as anywhere else. The Who were very popular there. I know tons of people in Texas who love this album and have since at least the period when Tommy made them well known.

    We were in Houston. If you were in a small Texas town, maybe it was different.
  24. CBS 65780

    CBS 65780 "Could I do one more immediately?"

    Dublin, Ireland
    John Mason!
    We've got the best cars 'ere!
  25. Spazaru

    Spazaru Angry Samoan

    While I love a lot of Who stuff after Sell Out, I agree with you about the "fun" part. Townsend had a great sense of humor and kind of just stopped using it in his songwriting. I think post-1967 rock music in general was less fun than the stuff that came before it (with a few exceptions of course).

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