4. The Who Sell Out (1967)
The conceit, here, is pure brilliance: A band whose music was already being used in advertisements turning around and poking fun at such an enterprise. The irony is only more potent this many years on, "I Can See For Miles" being used for everything from Jiffy Lube to Sylvania ads. Tongue-and-cheek has aged into prescience.
The Who Sell Out is the quartet at its most psychedelic. Sure, it was 1967 but an opening trip-out like "Armenia City In The Sky" offers a quixotic paradox to the commercial exploits that run throughout. "Tattoo" is one of the Who's strongest songs, ever. On the surface, it seems a jumpy pop one-off. But on it, Townshend takes one of his first, grand leaps into the darker side of growing up. Two brothers get inked up, and domestic violence, longing for older age, and contrition are explored. Just consider the opening lines: "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." Sold.