Initially released in December 1967 and described latterly by Rolling Stone as “The Who’s finest album,” The Who Sell Out reflected a remarkable year in popular culture. As well as being forever immortalized as the moment when the counterculture and the “Love Generation” became a global phenomenon and “pop” began metamorphosing into “rock.”
The new Super Deluxe Edition of The Who Sell Out features 112 tracks, 46 of which are unreleased, an 80-page, hard-back, full-color book, including rare period photos, memorabilia, track-by-track annotation and new sleeve notes by Pete Townshend with comments from the likes of Pete Drummond (Radio London DJ), Richard Evans (designer) & Roy Flynn (the Speakeasy Club manager).
The Super Deluxe package also includes nine posters & inserts, including replicas of
20” x 30” original Adrian George album poster, a gig poster from The City Hall, Newcastle, a Saville Theatre show 8-page program, a business card for the Bag o’ Nails club, Kingly Street, a Who fan club photo of group, a flyer for Bath Pavilion concerts including The Who, a crack-back bumper sticker for Wonderful Radio London, Keith Moon’s Speakeasy Club membership card and a Who Fan Club newsletter.
The Who Sell Out was originally planned by Pete Townshend and the band’s managers Kit Lambert & Chris Stamp, as a loose concept album including jingles and commercials linking the songs stylised as a pirate radio broadcast. This concept was born out of necessity as their label and management wanted a new album and Townshend felt that he didn’t have enough songs.
The ground-breaking original plan for Sell Out was to sell advertising space on the album but instead the band opted for writing their own jingles paying tribute to pirate radio stations and to parody an increasingly consumerist society.
The homage to pop-art is evident in both the advertising jingles and the iconic sleeve design created by David King who was the art director at the Sunday Times, and Roger Law who invented the Spitting Image TV show. The sleeve features four advertising images, taken by the renowned photographer David Montgomery, of each band member Odorono deodorant (Pete Townshend), Medac spot cream (Keith Moon), Charles Atlas (John Entwistle) and Roger Daltrey & Heinz baked beans. The story goes that Roger Daltrey caught pneumonia from sitting in the cold beans for too long.
The Who Sell Out is a bold depiction of the period in which it was made, the tail-end of the “swinging-60s” meets pop-art mixed with psychedelia and straight-ahead pop. It’s a glorious blend of classic powerful Who instrumentation, melodic harmonies, satirical lyrical imagery crystallized for what was only the group’s third album. The album’s ambition and scope is unrivalled by the Who, or any other act from that period.
Within the bold concept, were a batch of fabulous and diverse songs. “I Can See for Miles,” a top ten hit at the time, is a Who classic. “Rael,” a Townshend “mini-opera” with musical motifs that reappeared in Tommy and the psychedelic blast of “Armenia City In The Sky” and “Relax” are among the very best material anyone wrote during the 1960s
One of the most extraordinary albums of any era, The Who Sell Out is The Who’s last “pop” album. Two years later came Tommy – a double concept album about a deaf, dumb and blind kid.