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"Armenia City in the Sky"
Song by The Who

from the album The Who Sell Out

Released 15 December 1967
Recorded 20 October 1967 at IBC Studios (London)
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:12
Label Track (UK)
Decca (U.S.)
Writer John Keen
Producer Kit Lambert
The Who Sell Out track listing
"Armenia City in the Sky"
(1)
"Heinz Baked Beans"
(2)

"Armenia City in The Sky" is a song by The Who released on their album The Who Sell Out. Recorded and mixed at IBC Studios, London on 20 October 1967, this is one of the Who's most original songs to date. Oddly enough, it was not written by a member of The Who, but rather by Pete Townshend's former roommate and chauffeur John Keen. Apparently, they were good friends and one day, John told Pete that he had written them a song [1]. This was the only time that The Who used a song written specifically for them by a person outside the group. A year later Keen would be part of the Townshend-created group Thunderclap Newman. This track was released as a single in Japan backed with "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand".

Musical Sound

Although The Who have released numerous psychedelic songs (namely Sparks from Tommy and The Rock from Quadrophenia) this particular track shows the most prominent influence from the sub-genre and sounds very different from most of their songs. The track begins with a fake radio style intro (The Who Sell Out is a concept album which makes the album seem like a fake radio broadcast), as a heavily distorted voice recites the days of the week. The voice slowly fades out, and is answered by a very long and psychedelic note from a horn, which effectively starts the song. The rhythm track of the song is actually quite simple; the guitar provides minimal chords and strumming, the bass plays a simple "thump" rhythm, and the drums are simply numerous cymbal crashes with a few fills. However what makes it so musically complex is the production and horn arrangement. Numerous trumpets, trombones, and french horns flow in and out of each ear, providing a very "trippy" feeling for the listener. There is also backwards guitar from Townshend throughout the song, contributing to the "trippy" effect. In a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone, Pete describes why their producer at the time, Kit Lambert, had done so well on numerous songs during that period: Pete had made numerous demos for songs (I Can See For Miles and Magic Bus) that were 'very good' and 'easily comparable to the current versions.' This effectively 'blackmailed' Lambert into doing better, not to say he was doing poorly, but that Pete had very excellent demos [2]. Many critics have called "I Can See For Miles" one of the hardest, most musically complex songs ever written, and similar production values were translated into "Armenia."

References

  1. ^ http://www.thewho.net/discography/songs/ArmeniaCityintheSky.html
  2. ^ The Rolling Stone Interview: Pete Townshend : Rolling Stone
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