Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Who - Sell Out (Deluxe Edition)

The Who Sell Out was given a deluxe reissue in 1995, a reissue that greatly expanded upon the original 13-track album, adding a plethora of outtakes -- some heavily bootlegged -- and rejected jingles to the end of the album proper. That 1995 reissue seemed to mine the vaults pretty thoroughly, removing the need for another expanded reissue, especially not one as lengthy as this 2009 double-disc expansion. In a certain sense that's true, as there's not a whole lot of previously unreleased material among these 53 tracks: there's a rather excellent, snappy studio take on "Summertime Blues," a full version of "Premier Drums," an instrumental called "Sodding About" that could function as the introduction to "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (and was indeed planned as part of a rejected instrumental EP with that track), and a tighter yet inferior remake of "Rael 1 & 2," plus a few scattered jingles on the first disc, while the second has a stereo demo of "Relax" that's quite different, and a stereo "Glittering Girl," along with alternate mixes that are rare enough to seem previously unreleased. Unreleased tracks aren't the reason for this package, un-reissued mixes are, with the first disc containing the original stereo mix of Sell Out, the second the original mono mix. Often, parsing these kinds of mixes is the province of fanatics...and to a certain extent that's true here, at least in regards to the stereo mix, which does feel different than the 1995 reissue: it's different but not dramatically so. That's not the case with the mono mix, which is punchier and occasionally graced with additional flair, like a completely different guitar solo on "Our Love Was." Also, this reissue flows differently than the 1995 deluxe edition, which was sequenced to mimic the original album's pirate radio flow. That sensibility is retained on the first disc, where unbilled commercials pop up between the bonus tracks, but on the second disc the bonus material stands slightly apart from the rest of the album, which may be an appropriate move because this disc houses many of the alternate mixes and trails out with uncredited backwards backing tracks for "Armenia City in the Sky" and an unreleased commercial for the U.S. product Great Shakes. Despite all the repeated songs and differing mixes, it's only these hidden clips that feel like collector bait; there's such infectious joy and invention to this music, it's easy to get swept up in its momentum. Besides, repetition has always been the name of the game in radio, so having songs repeat throughout this deluxe edition of The Who Sell Out only accentuates and strengthens its initial pop art concept, which makes this a rare Deluxe Edition that manages to improve an already great album, and offers up a wealth of rarities while still being immensely entertaining. (Collector's note: even though this does have a wealth of rarities, it does not contain "Melancholia" and "Glow Girl" which were on the 1995 disc, giving further reason than the different mix to hold onto that reissue.) - All Music Guide
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