I have to give it to The Who, they definitely liked to push the boundaries for format and concept as they matured as a band. Their latest album, “The Who Sell Out”, is a concept album that effectively presents as an hour-long audio stream (complete with adverts, as the Brits would call them) from a pirate radio station trying to compete with the BBC. This album rates as the #316 album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time.
It definitely is a step forward from “A Quick One”, full of dry British humor, which is resident with The Who as well as many of their UK peers. Musically, there are some songs that stand out for me. I like the light pop song “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand”, as well as “Relax”. If you listen to “Rael – Pt.1”, you will hear an extremely familiar passage from one of the band’s most famous future projects. While there was a lot of discovery for me on this album, I will acknowledge it was great to hear them at their aggressive rocking best on “I Can See for Miles”. Some of the songs, like “Silas Stingy”, were a bit too much for my tastes, as I have said, if you don’t take chances, you don’t make something new.
I really respect Pete Townshend’s ambition to do his own thing here, and the band all follows along enthusiastically and embraces this unusual album. Like all of their contemporaries, it sets the stage for some coming albums that are amazing.