Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Conceptual Sell Out

Lists are very subjective and usually seem as though they are only written to spark controversy. Maybe that was the case recently when I saw on the WNEW blog that they decided to post some of their favorite concept albums. The usual albums got mentioned such as The Who’s Tommy, Green Day’s American Idiot and Pink Floyd’s The Wall amongst others. But for my money The Who Sell Out (1967) is what I would call pound-for-pound my favorite concept album out there.

It’s a fun album built around a pirate radio station that played nothing but Who songs with some fake and some real jingles sprinkled in. It also features a mini-opera, "Rael," whose instrumental bridge would be used two years later as “Underture” on the Tommy album.

The most well-known song on the record for radio was “I Can See For Miles,” which Pete Townshend described at the time as "the loudest, rawest, dirtiest song the Who had ever recorded."

Paul McCartney read the interview in which PT described the song and in response wrote “Helter Skelter” for The White Album.

According to Wikipedia:

McCartney then "wrote 'Helter Skelter' to be the most raucous vocal, the loudest drums, etcetera" and said he was "using the symbol of a helter skelter as a ride from the top to the bottom—the rise and fall of the Roman Empire—and this was the fall, the demise."

The pictures above are the front and back of quite possibly The Who’s finest album.

Incidentally, the complete WNEW list of the top concept albums is here.

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