November 22, 2021 3 min read

Hello all! It’s Monday and it’s snowing like hell! That means you could be inside spending some time with your record collection (don’t forget we can send records right to your doorstep if you’re worried about leaving home!), I know I will be! You know what that means, it’s time for this week’s “Nick’s Pick!”

My pick this week is a fantastic album often overlooked in a catalog filled with “classic albums” Melding twisted radio jingles, heavy guitar riffs and top tier pop hooks. This week’s pick is the incredible “The Who Sell Out.”

Released in December 1967 “The Who Sell Out” showcases Pete Townshend’s first foray into an album duration concept record, a category in which he would go on to perfect in the brilliant “Tommy” & “Quadrophenia” Records. The loose concept showcased here is that you’re listening to a “pirate radio” broadcast complete with commercials/jingles. These jingles for items such as “Rotosound Strings” and “Heinz Baked Beans” along with public service announcements connect the actual songs together. All of the jingles were written, arranged and recorded by The Who 

The album opens with “Armenia City In the Sky '' a full on psychedelic rocker showcasing the bombastic power of early Who. The “Heinz Baked Beans” jingle follows before shifting to “Mary Anne with the Shakey Hand”, a prime example of Townshend’s grip on writing a great, layered vocal ’60’s pop track. “Odorono” featuring a Townshend lead vocal doubles as both a Jingle for “Odorono'' deodorant and an actual song about a women vocalist waiting to meet a handsome man who is revolted by her body odor when he leans in to kiss her! Ha! “Tattoo” which follows stuck in The Who’s live show for years to come, for an outstanding live showcase of this track check out the extended release of “The Who Live At Leeds”. 

The next track “Our Love Was” is my personal favorite track on Side 1. Another great ’60’s pop song mixed with psychedelia at it’s finest, a Townshend lead vocal with insanely cool speaker panning effects, killer Keith Moon spastic drumming and a Hendrix-esqe guitar solo. 

Side 1 closes with what would ultimately become the “Classic” track from the album, “I Can See for Miles”. Pete Townshend still to this day puts this in his top 5 favorite Who tracks and the band still includes it in their setlist when on tour. Crank up the bass side of your system if possible so you get the full effect of John Entwistle’s incredible bass playing on this track.

Side 2 kicks off with “Can’t Reach You” another outstanding power pop gem, which is then followed by “Relax” this again showcases crazy cool stereo panning effects AND a guest appearance on organ by legend Al Kooper (Blood Sweat & Tears, Bob Dylan, Super Session). “Silas Stingy” written and sung by John Entwistle is a bizarre multi-layered vocal telling the tale of a paranoid, cheap man who walks around with his money in a locked box. “Sunrise” is my favorite track on the album! Recorded with just Townshend and an acoustic guitar, this performance showcases what a brilliant musician Pete is. The album closes with “Rael 1 & 2”, the track starts with a military style jingle before turning into a hard rock Who exploration, you may recognize some of these musical themes and riffs from the “Tommy” album which would follow next in The Who’s catalog! This, to me is so so cool, I always think of it as the “building blocks” to “Tommy.”

The album cover is absolutely Iconic with all of the images relating to the jingles on the record. Townshend poses with a large stick of Odorono Deodorant, Daltrey in a bathtub full of Heinz Baked Beans, Moon with a tube of Medac facial spot cream and Entwistle as Charles Atlas with a beautiful woman around his arm. Fun Fact: Daltrey came down with pneumonia following the photo shoot after sitting in the ice cold tub of Heinz Baked Beans.

To me, “The Who Sell Out” kicks off what would ultimately become The Who’s “Golden Age” which included “Tommy”, “Live at Leeds”, “Who’s Next”, “Quadrophenia” and “The Who By Numbers”. This one might just be my favorite because it shows in plain sight that The Who wouldn’t have gotten to those other incredible records without taking the first steps with “Sell Out.”



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