Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Who: The Who Sell Out [MCA, 1995]
Back when they were as underground Stateside as Jefferson Airplane or the Mystery Trend, their charm was that they didn't take their pretensions seriously. This illusion was perpetuated beguilingly on their only great album, an exultant tribute to top 40 consumerism in which sleek, glorious singles yield gracefully to dumb, catchy ads--all paced as if the world's smartest AM jock has been stricken with laryngitis and forced to juggle 45s and carts until help arrives. There are no bad songs here, ads included--my three favorites, "I Can See for Miles" included, are "Tattoo," "Armenia City in the Sky," and "Heinz Baked Beans," none of which most AORheads ever heard. Plus 10 bonus cuts that are good for something. A+