Sound — 10
Like most Who fans, I originally knew The Who through some of their bigger hits of the "Who's Next" era ("Won't Get Fooled Again," "Baba O'Reilly"). I soon got "Tommy," "Who's Next," and "Quadrophenia" as well as a greatest hits ("My Generation"). Well, I was totally unprepared for the sound of "The Who Sell Out." The opening is probably the strangest way to open any album ever. The psychedelic sounds of "Armenia City In The Sky" was completely different than anything else I heard by the Who. The music is incredibly good too. I love the music of "Odorono" and "I Can't Reach For You." This album is probably the most experimental album by the Who musically speaking. And, in my opinion, is the most musical generally.
Lyrics — 10
Pete Townshend may have been one of the best lyricists ever and this album proves it. In these songs, he tells full stories in three minutes. I had no idea that "Odorono" was a commercial until the end. The story is about a girl who pines over a certain guy, but he doesn't even notice her. Finally, at some show, he sees her singing and he comes back to her room. She's excited to see him and he comes over to her and is about to kiss her. But then, as he gets close to her, he realizes that he has a "late appointment." He leaves. So what's the morale of the story? Use Odorono. On "Tatoo," Pete recounts the story of a boy who went with his brother to become a man. They go to get tattoos. Then, "My dad beat me 'cause mine said "Mother"/ But my mother naturally liked it and beat my brother/ 'Cause his tattoo was of a lady in the nude/ And my mother thought that was extremely rude." They're funny lyrics! When I first heard these lyrics, I was confused. "The Who? Funny?" The commercials are also very, very funny. This album had a huge range of emotions, from frustration to ecstasy, anger to love, from preplexed to longing. Plus, the mini-opera "Rael" was a warm-up for "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia." The only song that I don't like is "Silas Stingy", which, like several Pink Floyd songs, uses the sound as background to the story about a very miserly man named Silas (a reference to George Eliot's "Silas Marner", perhaps the worst book ever).
Overall Impression — 10
I love this album. This is a must-own! The music and the lyrics are the Who at their best. Combined, they make a wonderful album. With the commercials, this album transcends wonderful. I would rank this right up there with "Sgt. Pepper's", which came out more or less the same time as this and is very similar to this album. This album is also somewhat similar to Pink Floyd; it's a mix of the musical sophistication of post-Syd Barret Floyd, but with the joviality and energy of "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" (which also came out more or less the same time). If you love the Beatles or Pink Floyd, then this is The Who album for you. For me, this ranks up there with such albums as "Sgt. Pepper's," "Dark Side Of The Moon," "Are You Experienced" and "(Untitled)" (by Zep).