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The Who Sell Out (33⅓ #37)

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Released in the U.S. in January 1968, "The Who Sell Out "was, according to critic Dave Marsh, a complete backfire. . .the album sold well, but not spectacularly [and was] ultimately a nostalgic in-joke: Who but a pop intellectual could appreciate such a thing? Further rarifying its in-joke status was its unapologetic Englishness; 13 tracks stitched together in a mock pirat ...more
Paperback, 131 pages
Published September 15th 2006 by Continuum
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81st out of 113 books — 43 voters

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John Lee
I think I'm realizing that I like my 33 1/3 books to have lots of musical analysis, rather than a lot of historical context. This book talks about the history of pop art, pirate radio, and London culture in the sixties, and just barely gets to the actual album at the end. The history was, for the most part, interesting, but in the end I was left wanting to hear more about what the author thought of this awesome album or some more tidbits about the recording process. As is, it works as a primer t ...more
Unlike my first experience with the 33 1/3 series ("Ode to Billie Joe"), this installment can only be described as academic - somewhat dryly so. Although Dougan opens with a discussion of his personal relationship to rock music, and latterly the album, much of the book is taken up with the cultural timeline that led to the album's gestation. Some of this is quite direct, such as the creative growth of "The Who"'s Pete Townshend, but much of the content revolves around the BBC's attempt to blocka ...more
Paul Bryant
In case any fans of The Who Sell Out haven't heard of Petra Haden, check out her album called The Who Sell Out. She does the whole entire Who album note for note using just her voice. It's gob smacking stuff.
Feb 04, 2008 Tosh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: London-alics & Who freaks
To be honest I only like albums by the Who before their 'masterpiece' "Tommy." And on top of that I am a huge Kinks fan. But saying that I really have a deep appreciation for the early Who recordings, plus I have an incredible respect for their managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. Those two guys were great.

"The Who Sell Out" is a great concept of an album. It was made out to be a pirate radio show with fake ads done by the band. It's borderline kooky or eccentric and it was the last work by the
Jul 23, 2011 Jon added it
Dougan does excellent work explaining the history of Pop Art in England in the 60s and how that influenced Pete Townshend's work on the Who's finest album. Trivia: Keith Moon wanted the near-instrumental "Jaguar" (a bonus track on the CD re-issue) to appear on the LP in place of Townshend's solo-acoustic ballad "Sunrise", I agree. More trivia: the title "Our Love Was, Is" on the US version was a mistake by someone at Decca Records, the correct title is "Our Love Was." I prefer the "wrong" title. ...more
I was really excited to read this one given to me

by vaughan at my in-laws as a wedding present. I read it on the flight back home to texas. this is the only one of this series that i have read."sell out" is one of my favorite who records. it didn't really get into to much detail about the stuff i really wanted to know about like the recording of it and trivial anecdotes like fighting in the studio etc,etc. It does however give a great history on pirate radio in england at that time. to me it s
Mike Van Campen
Jul 23, 2007 Mike Van Campen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Who fans and those interested in learning about pirate radio in the UK
I love the 33 1/3 series of books from Continuum. They are perfect for music geeks. This volume provides excellent background information on an album that has always perplexed me. I loved the songs but never really got the point of the jingles and advertising or the bizarre cover. (I remember dismissing it as a 12 year old based on the cover in spite of enthusiastically embracing the band after my dad first played me some tracks from _Tommy_ some time in the '80s.) This slim volume did a great j ...more
Jul 27, 2008 Burton added it
An insight into the cultural context of this seminal album by The Who, often overlooked due to the success and breadth of TOMMY. Litle known fact: BBC would not play pop music - including The Beatles. Pirate radio stations - ships with radio antenna - anchored of the British coast became THE commercial outlet for early rock. These ships were financed by Texas entrepreneurs.
Jul 29, 2009 Nathan rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People researching child porn
Shelves: 33-1-3-series
I found this book to be really boring. It focused more on the evolution of pop art than on the actual album, and while I understand it in context, it sort of didn't really hit home with me. Not to mention that the writing style was not the sort that I have come to enjoy.
Excellent essays and background information about one of the greatest records of all time by the greatest band of all time. Fascinating reading about British pirate radio and the times of early rock and roll. You can hear the songs in your head, too, which is always a treat.
Joe Faust
Disappointing – reads more like a college term paper about the cultural shift in Swinging London than about the landmark Who album – which only shows up in the last third of the book.
Way too much focus on British pop radio in the 60s as opposed to the Who album the book was supposed to be focusing on. Still some interesting stuff can be found throughout.
Derklbot Rosenstrauch
i was more interested in the overview of 60's english/european pirate radio which i didn't know much about. that's important history to properly understand this album's context.
Interesting, but a bit too heavy on background (eg pirate radio) and light on discussion of the actual songs.
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