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Classic of the Week

The Who "The Who Sell Out" (1967) MCA (originally released on Decca)

July 08, 1993|BUDDY SEIGAL

"The Who Sell Out" was the group's first concept album, less accomplished than 1969's legendary "Tommy" but also less self-important and a lot more fun. Interspersed among the songs are n'yuk-n'yuk commercials for such real and nonexistent products as Heinz Baked Beans, "Odorono" deodorant and "Medac" zit cream, plus lead-ins and public service announcements pulled from London's pirate radio. The songs themselves, such neglected gems as "Armenia City in the Sky," "I Can't Reach You" and "Sunrise," stand up to the band's best work and "Sell Out's" lone hit single, "I Can See for Miles," well may be the most powerful song the Who ever produced. A portent of things to come, the album-closing "Real" is an ambitious six minutes of evolving themes, some of which would be lifted directly for inclusion in "Tommy."

(The cover--depicting Pete Townshend wedging a colossal deodorant stick in his armpit and Roger Daltrey happily soaking in a tubful of baked beans--is by itself worth the price of the album.)

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