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Albums Of The Week: The Who | The Who Sell Out Super Deluxe Edition

With nearly 100 bonus tracks, rarities, demos & covers, this box set sells itself.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Initially released in December 1967, The Who Sell Out reflected a remarkable year in popular culture, being forever immortalised as the moment when the counterculture and the Love Generation became a global phenomenon and pop began metamorphosing into rock.

The Who Sell Out was originally planned by Pete Townshend and the band’s managers, Kit Lambert and 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 The Who 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, then art director at the Sunday Times, and Roger Law, who later created the Spitting Image TV show. The sleeve features four advertising images, taken by renowned photographer David Montgomery, of each band member: Odorono deodorant (Pete Townshend), Medac spot cream (Keith Moon), Charles Atlas (John Entwistle) and Heinz Baked Beans (Roger Daltrey). The story goes that Daltrey caught pneumonia from sitting in the bath of 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 instrumentation, melodic harmonies and satirical lyrical imagery crystallised 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 10 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.

The new Super Deluxe Edition of The Who Sell Out features 112 tracks, 47 of which are previously unreleased, an 80-page, hard-back full-colour 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) and Roy Flynn (Speakeasy Club manager). The Super Deluxe package also includes nine posters and inserts, including replicas of the 20” x 30” original Adrian George album poster, a gig poster from The City Hall, Newcastle, an eight-page programme from The Who’s October ’67 show at the Saville Theatre, a business card for the Bag o’ Nails club, Kingly Street, a Who fan club photo of the 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 1968 Who Fan Club newsletter. As a taster for the set, an EP of Pete Townshend’s previously unreleased demos has today been released on all streaming services including Pictures Of Lily (new remix, previously unreleased), Kids! Do You Want Kids? (aka Do You Want Kids, Kids?) (previously unreleased), and Odorono (previously unreleased).”