World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Who Sell Out

The Who Sell Out
Studio album by The Who
Released 15 December 1967
Recorded May – November 1967
Studio Talentmasters Studios, New York City, New York
IBC Studios, Pye Studios, De Lane Lea Studios, CBS Studios, and Kingsway Studios, London, England
Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles, California[1]
Genre Psychedelic pop, power pop
Length 38:46
Label Track, Decca
Producer Kit Lambert
The Who chronology
A Quick One
The Who Sell Out
Magic Bus: The Who on Tour
Singles from The Who Sell Out
  1. "I Can See for Miles"
    Released: 14 October 1967
  2. "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand"
    Released: 2 February 1968 (Netherlands)

The Who Sell Out is the third studio album by English rock band The Who, released in 1967 by Track Records in the UK and Decca Records in the US. It is a concept album, formatted as a collection of unrelated songs interspersed with faux commercials and public service announcements.[2] The album purports to be a broadcast by pirate radio station Radio London. Part of the intended irony of the title was that the Who were making commercials during that period of their career, some of which are included as bonus tracks on the remastered CD.

The album's release was reportedly followed by lawsuits due to the mention of real-world commercial interests in the faux commercials and on the album covers, and by the makers of the real jingles (Radio London jingles), who claimed the Who used them without permission. (The jingles were produced by PAMS Productions of Dallas, Texas, which created thousands of station ID jingles in the 1960s and '70s). It was the deodorant company, Odorono, who took offense that Chris Stamp made a request for endorsement dollars.[3] "I Can See for Miles" was released as a single and peaked at #10 in the UK and #9 in the US.

The Who Sell Out received widespread acclaim from critics, some of whom viewed it as the Who's best record and one of the greatest albums of all time.


  • Background 1
  • Packaging 2
  • Release and reception 3
  • Track listing 4
  • Personnel 5
  • Charts 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Even before the group had formed, the members of the Who had been profoundly influenced by rock n roll appearing on the radio. The BBC did not broadcast much music at the time, which was left to stations like Radio Luxembourg and then pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline.[4] By the end of 1966, the Who had achieved commercial success owing to the mod movement that made up a significant section of the group's early audience. However, the movement was fading, and the TV show Ready, Steady, Go that had boosted the group to fame, had been cancelled.[5] The group started touring the US the following year, and started to achieve success with their live act.[6] In summer 1967, the group's managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp suggested the band could create a concept album based on pirate radio and structure it in the same manner as that, or a typical US AM radio station.[4] As pirate radio had been influential to mod, it was felt particularly appropriate to pay tribute to it. As well as the music, the inter-song announcements and jingles were a key component of radio, so it was decided to include a selection of humorous asides on the album.[7] The Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into effect on 15 August, outlawing all pirate stations and strengthening the album's effect as a tribute.[8]

The first song to be written for the album was "Jaguar", paying tribute to the car, which was quickly followed by an instrumental the group had recorded for Coca Cola.[9] "Armenia City in the Sky", was written by a friend of the band, John "Speedy" Keen.[1] According to music critic Richie Unterberger, The Who Sell Out featured "jubilant" psychedelic pop music that veers between "melodic mod pop and powerful instrumentation",[10] while Edna Gundersen from USA Today said the album's style was power pop.[11]

Having finished touring the US, including an appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, the group returned to the UK on 16 September to start recording. They made progress on the album for the next three weeks; the first song to be completed was the single, "I Can See For Miles", released the following month.[12] By October, the group had also completed "Armenia (City In The Sky)", "Early Morning Cold Taxi" and "Girl's Eyes".[13] "Heinz Baked Beans", "Odorono" and "Top Gear" had been completed mid-month, along with a series of linking adverts and jingles mostly recorded by Entwistle and Moon.[14] "Tattoo", "Odorono" and "Rael" were completed by 20 October,[15] Most of the remainder of the album was recorded in between live shows at the end of the month.[16] "Sunrise", a solo Townshend piece, was the last piece to be recorded on 2 November. The album was mixed by Lambert and Damon Lyon-Shaw intermittently throughout November, coming up with a finished master on the 20th.[17]


The cover is divided into panels featuring a photograph by David Montgomery of each of the band members, two on the front and two on the back. On the front is Pete Townshend applying Odorono brand deodorant from an oversized stick, and Roger Daltrey sitting in a bathtub full of Heinz baked beans (holding an oversized tin can of the same). Daltrey claims to have caught pneumonia after sitting for a prolonged period in the bathtub, as the beans had been frozen.[18] On the back is Keith Moon applying Medac from an oversized tube, and John Entwistle in a leopard-skin Tarzan suit, squeezing a blonde woman in a leopard-skin bikini with one arm and a teddy bear with the other (an ad for the Charles Atlas course mentioned in one of the album's faux commercials).

Original vinyl copies of Sell Out end with an audio oddity that repeats into a locked groove (In response to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). The music in the locked groove is an instrumental version of what was originally intended to be a vocal jingle for the Who's UK label Track Records.

When the LP was released on Track Records in the UK in 1967 (Track 612 002 Mono & Track 613 002 Stereo), a poster was included inside the first 1000 copies (500 stereo and 500 mono). They came with sticker on the front cover stating 'Free Psychedelic Poster Inside'. Because of their rarity, first pressings with poster and sticker have sold for more than £600, and have been known to sell for much more. Included in the inner sleeve of the 1995 MCA CD reissue; the poster art of a Butterly initially intended as the LP cover was scrapped, and turned into the free poster.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [10]
eMusic [19]
Mojo [20]
NME 9/10[20]
Q [20]
Record Collector [20]
Rolling Stone [21]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [22]
Uncut [23]
The Village Voice A+[24]

The album was released in the UK on 15 December 1967. It reached #13 in the charts. The original release date of 17 November had been pushed back due to arguments about the running order. It was released in the US on 6 January 1968, reaching #48.[25]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner called The Who Sell Out "fantastic" and praised its "exquisite" sense of humor and the Who's "consummate" musicianship, which includes "wholly original" instrumentation and cleverly placed electronic sounds.[26] Robert Christgau, writing in Esquire, said the album establishes the band as "the third best not just in Britain but the world", while citing "Tattoo" as the best song Townshend has "ever written, worth the price of the album".[27] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Richie Unterberger said that, "on strictly musical merits, it's a terrific set of songs that ultimately stands as one of the group's greatest achievements."[10]

In 1995, The Who Sell Out was reissued by MCA Records with numerous outtakes and rejected jingles to the end of the original album.[28] In the liner notes for the reissue, Dave Marsh called it "the greatest rock and roll album of its era" and "the Who's consummate masterpiece, the work that holds together most tightly as concept and realization". Marsh believed the album's essence is "most tightly linked to the glorious pop insanity that psychedelia and its aftermath destroyed forever."[29] Reviewing the reissue in The Village Voice, Christgau called it the Who's "only great album", feeling they had yet to "take their pretensions seriously", with nothing but good songs throughout, including the faux-ads and bonus tracks.[24] It was also deemed the band's best work by Todd Hutlock from Stylus Magazine,[30] while Melody Maker said the record was a masterpiece because of its "glorious celebration of pop as useless commodity and a commercially corrupted art form" without degrading itself.[31] Rolling Stone called it "the most successful concept album ever" in a 1999 review.[21]

According to Acclaimed Music, The Who Sell Out is the 234th most ranked record on critics' all-time lists.[32] In 2003, it was placed at number 113 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[33] Mark Kemp, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), called it Townshend's first and best concept album and said that he "successfully does what he would overdo" in Tommy and Quadrophenia: "There's no fixed narrative to take away from the music. And the music is sensational".[34] In 2007, Rolling Stone included it on their list of the 40 essential albums of 1967 and stated, "the Who's finest album exemplifies how pop this famously psychedelic year was."[35] The album was reissued in 2009 as a two-disc deluxe edition, which Danny Kelly of Uncut magazine said was the "definitive" release of the Who's most "entertaining" and "endearing" album.[23] In his review for eMusic, Lenny Kaye said that The Who Sell Out is a "classic of prophetic pop art" because of "the concept of branding that has taken the place of record label patronage these days".[19]

Track listing

All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted. The between song jingles apparently have no official titles and are not listed anywhere on the original album packaging (although they are listed in the inner booklet of the 1995 remaster).

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Armenia City in the Sky" (Speedy Keen) Daltrey and Townsend 3:48
2. "Heinz Baked Beans" (John Entwistle) Entwistle 1:00
3. "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand"   Daltrey and Townshend 2:28
4. "Odorono"   Townshend 2:34
5. "Tattoo"   Daltrey, with Townshend 2:51
6. "Our Love Was" (Original US LPs listed the title as "Our Love Was, Is") Townshend 3:23
7. "I Can See for Miles"   Daltrey 4:05
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
8. "Can't Reach You" (Retitled "I Can't Reach You" on various reissues) Townshend 3:03
9. "Medac" (Entwistle) Entwistle 0:57
10. "Relax"   Daltrey, with Townshend 2:41
11. "Silas Stingy" (Entwistle) Entwistle 3:07
12. "Sunrise"   Townshend 3:06
13. "Rael (1 and 2)" (Retitled "Rael 1" on 1995 reissue) Daltrey 5:44
1995 reissue
2009 Deluxe Edition

The 2009 Deluxe edition contains the original album in stereo mix on disc one, and the mono mix on disc two.




Certifications-UK-Silver [36]

Year Chart Position
1967 UK Chart Albums 13[37]
1968 Billboard Pop Albums 48[38]
Year Single Chart Position
1967 "I Can See for Miles" Billboard Pop Singles 9[39]
UK Singles Charts 10[37]

See also



  1. ^ Keen later found fame as a member of Thunderclap Newman whose smash hit "Something in The Air" features production by Pete Townshend and bass playing from Townshend under the pseudonym Bijou Drains.


  1. ^ "The Who Official Band Website – Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon, The Who Sell Out". Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Show 49 – The British are Coming! The British are Coming!: With an emphasis on Donovan, the Bee Gees and the Who. [Part 6, : UNT Digital Library".  
  3. ^ "B.O., Baked Beans, Buns and The Who", Rolling Stone. Vol 1 No. 3, 14 December 1967
  4. ^ a b Marsh 1995, p. 5.
  5. ^ Marsh 1983, p. 239.
  6. ^ Marsh 1983, p. 246.
  7. ^ Marsh 1995, p. 7.
  8. ^ Marsh 1983, p. 276.
  9. ^ Marsh 1983, p. 278.
  10. ^ a b c  
  11. ^ Gundersen, Edna (5 December 2003). "Top 40 albums — the USA TODAY way".  
  12. ^ Marsh 1983, p. 273.
  13. ^ Neill & Kent 2002, p. 179.
  14. ^ Neill & Kent 2002, p. 180.
  15. ^ Neill & Kent 2002, p. 181.
  16. ^ Neill & Kent 2002, p. 183.
  17. ^ Neill & Kent 2002, p. 184.
  18. ^ "Roger Daltrey's concert conundrum" from BBC News
  19. ^ a b  
  20. ^ a b c d "Who Sell Out CD".  
  21. ^ a b "Review: The Who Sell Out". Rolling Stone (New York). 28 November 1999. 
  22. ^ Kemp 2004, p. 871.
  23. ^ a b  
  24. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (26 December 1995). "Consumer Guide".  
  25. ^ Neill & Kent 2002, p. 187.
  26. ^  
  27. ^  
  28. ^ "Who Sell Out [Deluxe Edition]". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  29. ^ Boren, Ray (2 August 1995). "2 Who Albums Re-Emerge Full of Rollicking Appeal".  
  30. ^ Stylus Staff (7 April 2003). "The Hidden Track: The Stylus Magazine Non-Definitive Guide".  
  31. ^ "Review: The Who Sell Out".  
  32. ^ "The Who".  
  33. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (New York): 124. 11 December 2003. 
  34. ^ Kemp 2004, p. 872.
  35. ^ "The 40 Essential Albums of 1967". Rolling Stone (New York). 12 July 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ a b The Who at
  38. ^ The Who at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  39. ^ The Who Sell Out at AllMusic


  • Marsh, Dave (1995). The Who Sell Out (Media notes). Polydor. 527 759-2. 
  • Neill, Andrew; Kent, Matthew (2002). Anyway Anyhow Anywhere – The Complete Chronicle of The Who. Virgin.  

Further reading

  • Dougan, John (2006). The Who Sell Out. Continuum (33 1/3 series), 144 pp., ISBN 0-8264-1743-4

External links

  • (1995 reissue)The Who Sell Out (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)
  • The Who Sell Out at Discogs (list of releases)
  • Lyrics from, a fansite with forum
  • The Who Sell Out liner notes – Song-by-song liner notes for the album from
  • Guitar tablature from
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.