Having read through a lot of reviews/comments about this album, I find the accepted view to be, that it is a great album, comparable to their best and that this 'version' comes with some good, but not necessarily essential, bonus material. Oh, and there are even some people who don't like it.
Well I actually count myself lucky that I came to this album only recently because it means my view of it wasn't skewed by familiarity with its much shorter former incarnation. I actually played it as is, unaware that the additional tracks had not been part of the original release.
My impression was one astonishment. Why was this album not widely trumpeted as one of the greatest works of the sixties? Why was "Tommy" considered a better album? I was mystified. A double album(as it must have been judging by its length)of this quality would surely be included in all those 'Best Album...' lists. The truly amazing thing is the way that, although it is not a 'concept album' the music fits together to create an incredible barrage of striking imagery that all coalesces perfectly to create a 'whole' that really is greater than the sum of its parts. One of the strengths of the album is the lack(!) of well known tracks(the only one I knew beforehand was 'I Can See For Miles') this gives the record a lovely 'balanced feel'.
I find it very strange, now that I am aware of the original track listing, to think that the album was ever released without 'Early Morning Cold Taxi', the stunning instrumental showcase 'Hall of the Mountain King' and perhaps the gem of the whole album 'Girl's Eyes'(a perfect and sympathetic depiction of the fixated fan/band relationship).
It isn't the easiest "Who" album to like(it took me a few plays before it started to 'click'), and in this form there is so much more to digest than before, but I would suggest it has the potential to be the most rewarding long term listen of all their albums.
Universal Music have released many 2-CD sets(by many artists) in their "Deluxe Edition" series, and I have most of them in my collection, but none are more impressive than this set, which gives you the original 1967 stereo & mono mixes of "The Who Sell Out", plus a nearly vault-clearing excavation of 27 bonus tracks.
No matter which mix of the album you prefer, Universal Music offers all of them. Personally, I prefer the more Hifi sound of the 1995 stereo remix(not included here, though easily available on the 1-CD expanded edition). The original stereo mix is murkier & muddier, but this 2-CD set puts it back in print, and offers the mono mix for the first time in the UK(no need to hunt for the deleted Japanese mono CD).
There are actual musical differences between the stereo & mono mixes, including a different guitar solo on "Our Love Was".
For the bonus tracks, the compilers have used original 1967 mixes, except for tracks where no original mix(or no stereo mixes) existed. Original masters & multitracks are used, excepting when the Uk mono single mix of "Someone's Coming" is presented on Disc 2. Apparently, the only tapes that could be found had unsatisfactory sound or did not match exactly with the mix heard on the original Uk single, so American collector Luke Pacholski has supplied a digital dub from his vintage Track Records single. More Hifi conscious listeners can listen to an excellent 1995 stereo remix on Disc One.
Amongst the unreleased goodies included are the instrumental "Sodding About", a different studio version of "Summertime Blues"(different from the version on the expanded "Odds & Sods"), an early mix of "I Can See For Miles" with different vocals, a superior re-make of "Glittering Girl" and an inferior but interesting IBC Studios remake of Rael"(the group opted to use the original Talentmasters Studios version instead), and the original 1960's mono mix of "Jaguar" which had been a WHO bootleg vinyl staple throughout the 1970's.
The original stereo & mono mixes of Rael have a clumsy edit in the first verse to omit a lyric line(the 1995 stereo remix restores the missing line), but this 2-CD set concludes with a previously unreleased 1967 mono mix with the missing line. But wait, there's more. Two "hidden" bonus tracks. One is the backwards guitar tracks (a la carte) from "Armenia City in The Sky" followed by an example of The Who selling out for real: an advertising jingle for an American milkshake manufacturer.
This 2-CD set is being issued only in Britain & Japan, due to America's harsh per song/per disc song publishing royalties system(there would be 53 separate royalties in America). We have Britain's fixed per disc publishing royalties system to thank for music banquets such as this. In Britain, it doesn't matter if there are 10 songs or 30 songs on a CD. The pubishing royalties"pie" gets divided into smaller pieces.
Hold onto your 1995 1-disc expanded edition(for its' Hifi remix), but grab this 2-CD release too. With both releases, you've got everything(well,excepting the single mix of "I Can See For Miles". The compilers thought that 3 mixes of the song on this 2-CD set was enough).
Because the UK & Japan releases of this set must supply WHO fans worldwide, we now have a (hopefully temporary) product shortage. I'm expecting that Universal will press more, so that "The Who Sell Out" doesn't sell out......permanently.
What can I say. If you never got to experience the sixties, like I didn't, then this amazing concept album will let you do so. It takes on the role of a pop radio station of that era and also the young brillant mind of The Who. I can see for miles is the masterpiece the rest of the album is centered around. It way surpasses A quick one and sets the path for Tommy, even more so on this re-release which includes Glow girl. A excellent album and is up there with Sgt. pepper as one of the best concept albums of all time.