The Who's ongoing half-speed master series continues on July 8th with the release on 1967's The Who Sell Out and 1969's Tommy. The half-speed master LP's are both available for pre-order and have been mastered by longtime Who engineer Jon Astley with vinyl cuts by Miles Showell. The Who Sell Out will be issued as a single album and sells for $31.99. The double-LP Tommy runs for $41.99.
The Who Sell Out, which was originally released on December 15th, 1967, was the pinnacle of the group's pop art period and featured tracks interspersed with original radio spots, commercials and public service announcements in an effort to ape England's then-pirate radio stations.
The album included the band's sole Top 10 hit — “I Can See For Miles” — the instant concert staple, “Tattoo,” along with such fan favorites as “I Can't Reach You,” “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand,” “Sunrise,” “Relax,” and “Our Love Was.”
The Who's Tommy was released in May 1969 and peaked at Number Four on the album charts. The album featured such Who standards as “1921,” “Amazing Journey/Sparks,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Christmas,” “The Acid Queen,” “I'm Free,” “We're Not Gonna Take It,” and “See Me, Feel Me.”
Despite the Who scoring a solid American Top 10 hit with “I Can See For Miles,” its relative chart failure back in England pushed Pete Townshend into thinking well beyond the three-minute pop hit as the Who's primary outlet: “I kept 'I Can See For Miles' back for quite a long time as a kind of ace in the hole, I think for about 18 months, two years. And stuck that out thinking that's the Who's first real Number One record — and it didn't do very well at all. And I was bitterly disappointed and most disillusioned. And I just decided to go for broke and do something completely mad, and started work at that period on Tommy.”
Roger Daltrey explained that Tommy's importance — both for himself as an artist and the Who as a creative force — can never be overlooked: “It was impossible for me not to become 'Tommy' to the audience. Absolutely impossible. I mean, in those, days, I used to sing the whole thing. Obviously, when I did the film, people found it very difficult to disassociate me from 'Tommy' — I still get problems today. I'm still very proud of it and I don't really give a toss if people like it, or not. I mean, I had a good time doing it. (Laughs) Tommy paid the rent, it's true. Before Tommy, we were flat broke. Penniless and in debt to the tune of what would be today, millions and millions of pounds — and Tommy paid the rent.”