The Who Sell Out review by The Who

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Jan 1, 1967
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.6 (13 votes)
The Who: The Who Sell Out

Sound — 9
The who here were seeking somewhat of a middle ground between the cement mixer sound of My generation and the lighter attack of A quick one. They had internalized the vocal and instrumental sounds of the Beatles and Beach Boys, it seems, and integrated that with their own aggressive sound and Townshend's classical and music hall influences to create true power Pop, harmony drenched rock that energizes the listener. The album at least starts as a concept album, a tribute to (doomed) pirate radio. this is played out in a series of ads in between the songs, though they run out on side 2. the tunes range from Rock to (parodic) psychedelia and folky pop. along with Syd Barrett's Pink floyd this reord represents a sort of melodic rock that flourished in 1966-67.

Lyrics — 7
Townshend (and Entwistle) at this point didn't have quite the lyrical complexity of Lennon, Davies, etc. but they had no small amount of wit and sarcasm. Maryanne with the shaky hand continues the concept from pictures of Lily and sets it against beautiful three part harmonies and acoustic guitars. Most will only know the album through I can see for miles, which remains as townshend said, the ultimate who record. It is not very indicative of the vocal and instrumental finesse found on Tattoo, our love was or I can't reach you. those last two, along with relax, find Pete writing love songs for the first time. while lyrically they aren't what Lennon Mccartney were doing even 2 years prior, they bring a new side to the writer of tons of "Silly" songs (I'm a boy) and "angry' ones (generation) "miles" does show a direct but gripping style that would be synthesized in future works. counting the bonus tracks we even hear Keith sing his own "girl's eyes", a poppy little tune that works. the music and lyrics certainly comply, what with the chiming sound of our love was or the dreamy floating of tattoo and maryanne. Townsend sings a few leads here, and the diverse volumes of the tunes allow all four who members to demonstrate their singing abilities, alone and in gorgeous ensemble harmonies.

Overall Impression — 9
Sell out suffers for being released the same year as Sgt pepper and such and being immediately followed by Tommy. The latter actually used several musical phrases and lyrics found on sell out, as well as that impressive 3 part harmony the who seemed to stop on Who's next. this album, with the exception of "Armenia" doesn't conform to the psychedelia of the times and doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as pepper, The Doors, Something Else, Pet sounds or any other record released in 66-67. It sounds much like some of the less psych tracks on revolver, actually with a tip of the hat to the earlier beach boys. Standout songs on the album include the masterpiece "I can see for miles", the complex "Tatoo" and the romanticism of "our love was" and "relax". The bonus tracks on the CD also give you the great "early Morning cold taxi", which would fit in the who's line of power pop singles (substitute, I'm a boy, Pictures), and the Glittering Entwistle tune "someones coming", with it's brass backing. I love this album's humour and sunny sound. My only objections are to the CD having several bonus tracks a who fan likely has already from the box set. If stolen, I'd replace this one the same day.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Big Tommy P
    orange_juice wrote: which album has "pinball wizard"?
    "Tommy" has Pinball Wizard. It's a concept album. This was a generallly good review. The only clash I found was that I liked Silas Stingy (one of my favourites actually), oh well, just personal differences. It's a good album, I still think A Quick One's better.