Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Who Sell Out

The first Who album I had an opportunity to own was their third: “The Who Sell Out.” I purchased it in the cut out section at H.L. Greens in McKeesport for a reduced price. It is a quasi-concept album. While the songs do not generally follow any set lyrical content or story line, the album is set up to be like a broadcast from Radio London.

The station was a pirate 50kw AM facility operating outside of the three mile limit of the UK in the North Sea. Included in the album are real Radio London jingles and faux commercials for real and fake products that were interspersed between the songs.

I Can See for Miles

The album produced one hit single: “I Can See for Miles,” which peaked at 10 in the UK and at 9 in the US. Although it had an excellent showing within the top 10 in both countries, Pete Townshend was disappointed that it had not performed better on the charts. He considered it the quintessential Who song at that moment of their career.

Mary Ann with the Shaky Hand

In the US, the “I Can See for Miles” single was released with an alternative electric version of “Mary Ann with the Shaky Hand. The version heard here is the LP mix with acoustic instrumentation.

Armenia City in the Sky

The opening cut after Radio London’s days of the week voicers is “Armenia City in the Sky.” It is the only song on the album not written by a member of the band. John “Speedy” Keen penned “Armenia City in the Sky.” Keen was Pete Townshend’s roommate and would go onto some limited success as a member of Thunderclap Newman and as songwriter of “Something in the Air.”

The Album in its Entirety

Here’s a YouTube playlist of the album in its entirety. I apologize for the sloppy editing made by the individuals who posted these songs. It could be a little cleaner, but next to impossible without the correct software as the cuts are strung together.

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