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John Dougan

Who's The Who Sell Out

John Dougan Who's The Who Sell Out 33 1 3
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<div>Released in the U.S. in January 1968, <i>The Who Sell Out </i>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 pirate radio broadcast, without a DJ, with cool, anglocentric commercials to boot. In the 36 years since its release, <i>Sell </i>Out, though still not the best selling release in The Who's catalog, has been embraced by a growing number of fans who regard it as the band's best work; one of the few recordings of the late 1960s that best represents the ambitious aesthetic possibilities of the concept album; without becoming mired in a bog of smug, self-aggrandizing, high art aspirations. <i>Sell Out, </i>powerfully and ecstatically, articulates the nexus of pop music and pop culture. <br/><p> </p><br/><p>As much as it is an expression of the band's expanding sonic palette, <i>Sell Out </i>also functions as a critique of the rock and roll lifestyle. Not the clichéd mantra of sex, drugs, and rock and roll but in the ways that commercial advertising fabricates a youth-oriented cultural reality by hawking pimple cream, deodorant, food, musical equipment, etc., and linking it with rock and roll. In this sense <i>Sell Out </i>is a reflective work, one that struggles with rock and roll as a cultural expression that aspires to aesthetic permanence while marketed as ephemera. From this conflict emerges a pop art masterpiece.</p></div>>

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