With the Who's third album, 1967's The Who Sell Out, seeing release next month in a massive "super deluxe" edition, Pete Townshend took time to chat with Uncut and admitted that the album felt like a crossroads for the band, explaining, "I think The Who Sell Out was tough for all of us. For example, I remember a lot of sessions at DeLane Lea (studios) when Roger (Daltrey) just wasn’t around. That’s why I sang quite a few of the songs on the album. I think Roger would’ve heard a song like 'I Can’t Reach You' and just thought, ‘What the f*** is this about?’ Not because of a lack of intelligence or willingness to take on new stuff — he’d taken on all kinds of weird stuff that I’d written — but I think it was just that we were in a strange place."
He added, "I felt that a lot of it was stuff that was necessary for me to write about, to touch on, to explore. I didn’t particularly want the Who to have to carry it. So when we got together with the marketing guys, (Our manager and producer) Kit Lambert decided to take the idea of doing a radio show a bit further and bring commercials (on to the album). I remember thinking, 'Thank heavens.' In a sense, it saved what could otherwise have been a kind of Moody Blues exercise."
Townshend went on to say that the work the Who created early on in its career still resonates heavily in the present day: "Of course, we didn’t know then that our catalogue and our band would be so valuable — but it’s what keeps us in beans. It allows Roger and I to do charity work and political work and support fiends and family and whatever else with our money. It’s all rooted in those days."
Although the Who has always had a far deeper relationship with their core fan base over the years than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend admits that at times it can be overwhelming: ["It's not always that good to have fans that are that caught up in you, but every band has it — I'm sure they do. The difference for the Who, may be, is that we never had that purely, kind of teenybopper female following. And, y'know, I'm very chauvinistic about this — sexist about it in a sense — but, when you see the way young girls operate as fans, they will move from band to band and artifact to artifact, until they find a man and grow up and have a family and start listening to Frank Sinatra, or whatever it is that they do (laughs)."] SOUNDCUE (:31 OC: . . . that they do (laughs))