If you ask a music fan to name a favorite Who album – or just any Who album – the answer is likely 1969 rock opera, Tommy, or perhaps the 1971 follow-up Who’s Next. Both contain great music, and the former was groundbreaking. But the best album of the group is probably not one of them; Rather, it’s the inventive The Who Sell Out from 1967, which didn’t do nearly as well in the charts as the other two, but is so good that it’s hard to believe it’s just their third LP.

The band’s first concept album is reminiscent of an old Monty Python line: “And now for something completely different.” While many of the Who contemporaries leaned backward to be taken seriously as artists rather than just pop stars, this outfit delves deep into pop via a parody of England’s commercial pirate radio stations.

Instead of being silent between songs, the album contains the group’s jingles for “Wonderful Radio London” and – even before Frank Zappa announced that “we’re only there for the money” – fake and often funny commercials for real products. This includes Odorono Armpit Deodorant, Heinz Baked Beans, Medac Germicidal Cream, and Charles Atlas Bodybuilding. (The Who had to delay the LP’s release while they were given permission to mention these brands.)

This was quite a long way off the beaten path, especially for 1967. While the Doors were singing “Break On Through”, Jimi Hendrix was delivering “Purple Haze,” Procol Harum was delivering “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” and Simon & Garfunkel were the ones Who sang “A Hazy Shade of Winter” and sang lines like this (from “Medac”): “When Henry looked in the mirror / His pimples were all gone / Henry laughed and shouted: ‘I have them! ‘/ My face is like a baby’s butt. “

The songs that make up the faux commercial bookend are consistently solid – strikingly original, melodic and characterized by great vocals and lyrics as unusual as the album concept. “Armenia City in the Sky”, for example, is pure psychedelic with backward-looking guitar parts and surrealistic verses. “Tattoo” is about a boy who has his arm tattooed and announces: “Welcome to my life, Tattoo / I’m a man now, thanks to you.” Other jewels on the menu are the Latin American “Mary Anne with the wobbly hand”, the soaring “I can’t reach you” and the beautiful, acoustic “Sunrise” and “I can see for miles”. A top 10 hit that is one of the best creations of all time.

Like all of the group’s albums, this one contains mostly Pete Townshend material. Exceptions are “Silas Stingy” and the songs that promote Heinz Beans and Medac, written by bassist John Entwistle; and “Armenia City in the Sky” by John “Speedy” Keen, who was Townshend’s chauffeur at the time and co-founded Thunderclap Newman and wrote his hit song “Something in the Air”.

The new “Super Deluxe” edition of this album, which weighs roughly six pounds, contains 112 tracks, all remastered and many previously unreleased. As Townshend says in his typically thoughtful and voluminous rewritten liner notes, “When I saw the final tracklist, I was very pleasantly surprised at how much additional material was recorded by the band around the time of The Who Sell and then put aside was prepared and released. “

The first two of the five CDs in the package contain the stereo and clearly different mono versions of the original album as well as two dozen bonus tracks, including the single “Pictures of Lily”, Townshend’s ode to masturbation; Cover of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ “The Last Time” and “Under My Thumb” (recorded as a show of solidarity for the leaders of the Rolling Stones who were then charged with substance abuse); the single mix of “I Can See for Miles”; and songs, jingles, and promo spots (some apparently real, some not) for Jaguar cars, Sunn audio equipment, Great Shakes milkshake mix, and Coca Cola.

Disc 3, based on studio sessions from 1967 and 1968, contains 28 outtakes and alternate versions, including variations on many of the songs released on The Who Sell Out. A fourth CD of 14 tracks features material created for Tommy’s nine months between the release of Sell Out and the first recordings. It contains several versions of “Magic Bus”, the single from 1968, as well as numbers whose lyrics, vocals and guitar work anticipate the rock opera, such as “Glow Girl”, which developed into Tommy’s “It’s a Boy”. Filling a fifth CD are previously unreleased and surprisingly polished Pete Townshend demos of 14 songs, none of which appear on the original Sell Out.

The list of goodies packed with the CDs is long. For vinyl fans, the set contains a pair of 7-inch mono singles (“Magic Bus” and “I Can See for Miles”) in picture sleeves. (There’s even a plastic 45-rpm adapter for your turntable.) Other offers include a bumper sticker and replicas of two large four-color posters, a contemporary band promotional photo, and a fan club newsletter from 1968.

The most informative extra, however, is the 80-page hardcover book in LP size that contains the five CDs. In addition to the Townshend essay mentioned above, this beautifully illustrated volume includes his notes on each of the demo tracks, an article by Radio London DJ Pete Drummond on the era of pirate radio, and several other essays on the music and time. Texts and extensive track notes fill the rest of the book.

Who fans will not be disappointed.

Also remarkable

Maria Shiel, fire in the sea !. Irish singer / songwriter Maria Shiel, who toured with a hip-hop band she founded called Guava in the early 2000s, has a winner on this solo album, the music of which she describes as “transatlantic Irish-Americana”. Inspired by their Irish ancestors and a road trip through the US in 2015, the all-originals set features a more than capable band, Steve Wickham’s violin from the Waterboys, as well as dobro, flute, drums, bass, and guitars.

The album starts with the sound of the sea on the west coast of Ireland and ends with the sound of a crackling open fire and Native American singing. In between there are a number of well-sung, quiet originals, starting with the album’s debut single, the irresistible “Calling Me Back” (which steals a line from John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”). This is probably the best track, but exciting, upbeat numbers like “Bedrock and Waterline” and “Call Home” and lavish productions like “Ebb of the Wave” are not far behind.

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Abigail Dowd, nice day. Colorado-based folk singer and songwriter Abigail Dowd has an excellent backup crew on this album – including keyboards, percussion, dobro, pedal steel, electric guitar, and bass – but her captivating vocals are always the main draw.

Often sad and struggling characters, many of Dowd’s lyrics. For example, the male protagonist of “I don’t want to talk about it” sings: “You don’t know what I’ve done / If I told you you’d run / They say turn off the bottle, I know it hard to be with me “The title cut contradicts the bright-sounding nickname with lines about feeling lonely and blue, even though” It’s a beautiful day? Outside “.

Ultimately, however, this is an album all about maintaining resilience and hope, and best characterized by its thoughtful first single, “One Moment at a Time,” in which Dowd sings to wake up and every morning face the challenges of every day. Come.