By: Ron Hart
For those of us who grew up on classic rock radio, you would think that The Who had been raiding the airwaves since their inception with the amount of AOR play they get. Yet when the legendary instrument trashers initially burst onto the UK rock scene in 1964 it was the rogue patchwork of pirate radio stations who gave the band the most spins due to the BBC's reluctance to embrace rock 'n' roll.
1967's The Who Sell Out, largely considered by most fans to be their sixties masterpiece, was initially designed as a Pete Townshend's initial concept album paying tribute to those supportive pirate stations that operated off the shores of England, most notably Radio London, which was shut down the year of Sell Out's release by an act of British Parliament. Formatted as a radio program, complete with fake commercials and between-frequency static, the album is not so much remembered for its concept as its strong array of songs, easily some of the best Townshend has ever written for The Who. Chief standouts are "Mary Ann With The Shaky Hand," a psychedelic ode to a girl who liked to give handjobs, "Tattoo," a song about a mom hating on her son for getting ink of a naked lady, the Tommy precursor "Rael" and, of course, the American radio smash "I Can See For Miles".
This Deluxe Edition (being released Stateside on May 19 on Geffen Records and currently available as an import) is a treasure trove of rare gems surrounding the album's initial release. In addition to a remastered version of the original stereo mix of the core LP, which improves upon MCA's already-superior 1995 reissue of Sell Out, you also get the entire mono mix, which many Who fans feel is the better listen given its unique Easter eggs featured within its production, including an alternate guitar solo on "I Can't Reach You", a missing guitar part on "Odorono" and a heavier presence of the late John "The Ox" Entwistle's bass guitar on every track.
Additional goodies featured on this Deluxe Edition include a variety of alternate takes, early demo mixes and previously unreleased tracks, particularly the great wealth of unused commercial jingles that have been long-circulated in bootleg form. What this version does not include, however, are the great Sell Out leftovers "Melancholia" and "Glow Girl", which did appear on the 1995 issue but are strangely left off here for reasons unknown (so don't go trading in that single disc reissue just yet, Who fanatics).
Either way, if you consider yourself any kind of Who fan, you will log right into your favorite music-purchasing website or head over to the local record shop (that carries imports) to pick up this amazing set, and then go home and hope the Deluxe Edition of Quadrophenia we have all been waiting for isn't long on its heels.
The Who performing "I Can See For Miles" on the Smothers Brothers Show 1967.
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