“The trash collected by the eyes and dumped into the brain, said it tears into our conscious thoughts, you tell me who’s to blame?” — W.A. Rose

Last spring I was up in the NEO, I think it was for Mi Madre’s Day, and I stopped by The Exchange in Willoughby and found a few of the albums for this list.  This one was $6.00.  And generally I like The Who a lot, so I was pretty excited to listen to it.  But this album is kind of weird.  It’s not bad, just weird.  It sort of reminds me of how rap albums in the 90s would contain skits and stuff between the songs.  In this case, it’s commercials, some real and some fake, interspersed throughout.  The result is somewhat humorous, which I think was the intent, but it isn’t exactly hilarious.  But maybe I’m just jaded.  As for the actual songs, they are pretty good, but overall it isn’t on the level of the stuff on Who’s Next or Tommy (although there is a surprise use of material from “The Underture” towards the end).  The only real stand out for me is “I Can See for Miles”, and that’s because it’s the only song where Roger Daltrey really lets loose.  Townshend sings way too much on this album in his high wispy voice.  And it’s almost as if Daltrey was forced to sing in Townshend’s style on many of the other tracks.  And John Entwistle sings a few character type songs like “Silas Stingy” to a somewhat humorous effect.  But props to Kieth Moon…the drumming is pretty stellar on this record.  That actually might be the highlight for me.

This album does, however, raise the question of what is considered “selling out” in the music industry.  Musicians seem to have pretty strict, unwritten rules about selling out, especially in some of the more extreme punk and indie rock communities.  Now, these rules don’t apply to other types of celebrities.  Pro-athletes hock everything from shoes to jeans to pizza to underwear (and college athletes probably would too if the NCAA would allow it).  And while it seems to be frowned upon for most A-list actors to appear in commercials, that doesn’t seem to have stopped Matthew McConaughey from appearing in ads for cars and liquor.  And it makes me sad every time I see Sam Jackson, the baddest mofo in the Tarantinoverse, trying to sell me a credit card.  But for musicians, selling a song to a commercial triggers instantaneous criticism and a lack of credibility.  Jim Morrison famously blocked the rest of The Doors from selling “Light My Fire” to a car commercial.  I was recently disappointed to hear Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down” in a shoe commercial, mostly due to the irony that the song originally blasted that particular shoe company back in the 90s for not being socially responsible.  And I thought the world was going to end when I saw Bob Dylan in a super bowl commercial a few years ago.  It is an interesting conundrum…musicians obviously have the right to profit from the songs they write, but they are frowned upon for doing so in a commercial manner.  Is it because we hold musicians to a higher standard?  Do we expect musicians to maintain a certain ideal level of integrity?  Are we looking for musicians to be the voice of truth and social justice in our society?  I actually think we do, and I’m okay with it.  And at any rate, I really don’t buy anything because somebody famous endorses it.  Actually, often times I refuse to buy something because someone I don’t like is endorsing it (I’m looking at you Padre John).  I just hope I never see Thom Yorke or Axl Rose trying to sell me a new car or a pair of sunglasses.

Other Lists: “I Can See for Miles” is #262 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It is #2 on the list of the 50 Greatest Songs by The Who, along with “Tattoo” at #19, “Sunrise” at #24, “I Can’t Reach You” at #43, and “Relax” at #49.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped two spots from it’s rank of #113 on the original list.

My favourite track: “I Can See for Miles”

Honourable mention: “Tattoo”

Quote: “Me and my brother were talking to each other ’bout what makes a man a man.  Was it brain or brawn or the month you were born?  We just couldn’t understand.”