The Who 4/23/21

Out today (April 23rd) is the “Super-Deluxe Edition” of The Who Sell Out in a massive box set, with a total of 112 tracks over five discs. The collection includes never-before-heard outtakes and Pete Townshend demos — along with a heaping dose of replica memorabilia from the era.

The Who Sell Out, which was originally released on December 15th, 1967, was the pinnacle of the group’s pop art period and featured tracks interspersed with original radio spots, commercials and public service announcements in an effort to ape England’s then-pirate radio stations.

The album included the band’s sole Top 10 hit — “I Can See For Miles” — the instant concert staple, “Tattoo,” along with such fan favorites as “I Can’t Reach You,” “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand,” “Sunrise,” “Relax,” and “Our Love Was.”

Pete Townshend recalled that the constant need for the Who to prove themselves on the singles charts wore thin for him around the time of The Who Sell Out: [“Everything that we put out seemed to, like, go out at, like, Number Eight, Number 10, Number 12 — something like that. And then we’d get a brief, kind of, period of, like, successful touring in Britain and Europe, and the  it would slide back out and again, and then you’d have the same mountain to climb again, and I got really sick of it.”] SOUNDCUE (:14 OC: . . . sick of it)

Despite the Who scoring a solid American Top 10 hit with “I Can See For Miles,” its relative chart failure back in England pushed Pete Townshend into thinking well beyond the three-minute pop hit as the Who’s primary outlet: [“I kept ‘I Can See For Miles’ back for quite a long time as a kind of ace in the hole, I think for about 18 months, two years. And stuck that out thinking that’s the Who’s first real Number One record — and it didn’t do very well at all. And I was bitterly disappointed and most disillusioned. And I just decided to go for broke and do something completely mad, and started work at that period on Tommy.”] SOUNDCUE (:24 OC: . . . period on Tommy)

Frontman Roger Daltrey told us that it isn’t hard for fans to figure out his creative contributions to Pete Townshend’s songs: [“You listen to the demos and you listen to the final record, and you can do that by listening to (Townshend’s) Scoop albums. There is a creative input, but I don’t analyze it. It’s something that happens. I always try to find the center of the song and that involves taking the song inwards for the expression and that brings out a mood, which will ultimately shape the mood of the record. That’s the creative process. That’s all it is; something that happens naturally.”] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC: . . . that happens naturally)

TL; DR

  • Out today (April 23rd) is the “Super-Deluxe Edition” of The Who Sell Out in a massive box set, with a total of 112 tracks over five discs. The collection includes never-before-heard outtakes and Pete Townshend demos — along with a heaping dose of replica memorabilia from the era.

FAST FACTS

  • The Who Sell Out was the Who‘s album prior to its 1969 double album opus, Tommy.
  • The set stalled at Number 48 on the Billboard 200 albums charts — but peaked at Number 13 in England.
  • Pete Townshend performed the Sell Out tune, “I Can’t Reach You” for the first time in 2007 during a performance at Austin’s SXSW.

SIDE NOTES

The tracklisting and contents to the “Super-Deluxe Edition” of The Who Sell Out is:

  • Disc 1 – original mono mix, mono A’s & B’s and unreleased mono mixes
  • Disc 2 – original stereo mix and stereo bonus tracks
  • Disc 3 – Studio out-takes, ‘fly-on-the-wall’ versions of early takes of songs from the album sessions, ‘studio chat’ etc. – previously unreleased
  • Disc 4 – ‘The Road To Tommy’ will contain stereo mixes of the studio tracks recorded in 1968 – some previously unreleased – plus 1968 As and Bs mono mixes (all tracks remixed from original 4 and 8-track session tapes in The Who vault)
  • Disc 5 – 14 of Pete Townshend’s original demos – previously unreleased & exclusive to this set.

Bonus 7-inch discs:

  • Track UK 45 repro:
  • Decca USA 45 repro:
  • 80-page, hard-back full-color book, including rare period photos, memorabilia & track annotation and new liner notes by Pete Townshend
  • Comments from from Pete Drummond (Radio Caroline DJ), Chris Huston (Talentmasters Studio), Richard Evans (designer), Roy Flynn (Speakeasy Club manager), Arnold Schwartzman (designer) & Andy Neill (Who biographer)

Nine posters & inserts, including replicas of…

  • 20-inch x 30-inch original Adrian George poster
  • Gig poster – City Hall, Newcastle: The Who, TrafficTremeloes etc.
  • Saville Theatre 8-page program.
  • Business card for the Bag o’ Nails club, Kingly Street.
  • Fan Club photo of group.
  • Flyer for Bath Pavilion concerts including The Who.
  • Crack-back bumper sticker for Wonderful Radio London.
  • Keith Moon’s Speakeasy Club membership card
  • Who Fan Club newsletter.