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Petra Haden|Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out

Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out

Petra Haden

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So many times the title of an album is peripheral to what the contents actually hold. In the case of Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out it is perfectly descriptive because, yes, Petra Haden does sing the Who's Who Sell Out album right down to the make-believe ads that link the songs. Not just the vocals but all the instruments too. Working from a suggestion from Mike Watt (who may or may not have remembered the Who's own foray into singing instrumental parts on "A Quick One, While He's Away" when they had to sing "cello, cello, cello" because they couldn't afford to hire the real thing), Haden spent time during the span of three years (2000-2003) re-creating the sound of the Who's pop-art masterpiece using her voice and an old eight-track recorder. The results are pretty amazing. Apart from an occasional rhythmic stumble and the tendency for the drum sounds to sound like synsonic drums, she really nails the layered, flowing and psychedelic in the true sense of the word feel of the original album. She pulls off the feat of being reverent to the original material while also sounding completely out on a limb artistically. Never trying to imitate instruments exactly, she instead goes for the feel and texture of them. It would have been impossible to sound like Keith Moon anyway and she wisely limits the drums to an occasional piece here and there. The astounding moments are many but some of the best are the guitar plinks and twangs from "Our Love Was," the drum hits and wailing guitar solos on "Relax," the chant-like bass on "Silas Stingy" and the choral effects of "Rael." Maybe the most impressive feat was managing to account for all the parts and pieces of "I Can See for Miles," a task which would have driven a lesser artist insane but one that she makes sound effortless. The song that actually competes with the original is " Sunrise" as she imbues the song with a feeling of joy and light equal to the original and her lead vocal is perfect. The aspect of the album that will probably be overlooked is the actual vocals -- the vocals that sing the lyrics, that is. She has a crystal-clear, beautiful voice that really soars and her harmonies are consistently breathtaking. It would have been lovely enough just to hear her sing the Who's melodies and lyrics without all the backing "instruments." The likelihood that you will reach for Petra Haden's version of Sell Out before you will reach for the Who's will vary with each listener's tolerance for novelty. Even the strictest Who purist should hear Haden's version at least once though and anyone who likes to hear artists taking wild chances and succeeding wildly should hold up Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out as a shining example.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo

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Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out

Petra Haden

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1
Armenia City in the Sky
00:03:40

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

2
Heinz Baked Beans
00:01:09

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

3
Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand
00:02:30

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

4
Odorono
00:02:18

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

5
Tattoo
00:03:10

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

6
Our Love Was
00:03:25

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

7
I Can See for Miles
00:04:14

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

8
I Can't Reach You
00:03:30

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

9
Medac
00:00:57

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

10
Relax
00:02:41

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

11
Silas Stingy
00:03:05

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

12
Sunrise
00:03:03

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

13
Rael
00:05:39

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

14
Track Records
00:00:17

Petra Haden, Performer - RR, Writer

Bar None Records

Album Description

So many times the title of an album is peripheral to what the contents actually hold. In the case of Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out it is perfectly descriptive because, yes, Petra Haden does sing the Who's Who Sell Out album right down to the make-believe ads that link the songs. Not just the vocals but all the instruments too. Working from a suggestion from Mike Watt (who may or may not have remembered the Who's own foray into singing instrumental parts on "A Quick One, While He's Away" when they had to sing "cello, cello, cello" because they couldn't afford to hire the real thing), Haden spent time during the span of three years (2000-2003) re-creating the sound of the Who's pop-art masterpiece using her voice and an old eight-track recorder. The results are pretty amazing. Apart from an occasional rhythmic stumble and the tendency for the drum sounds to sound like synsonic drums, she really nails the layered, flowing and psychedelic in the true sense of the word feel of the original album. She pulls off the feat of being reverent to the original material while also sounding completely out on a limb artistically. Never trying to imitate instruments exactly, she instead goes for the feel and texture of them. It would have been impossible to sound like Keith Moon anyway and she wisely limits the drums to an occasional piece here and there. The astounding moments are many but some of the best are the guitar plinks and twangs from "Our Love Was," the drum hits and wailing guitar solos on "Relax," the chant-like bass on "Silas Stingy" and the choral effects of "Rael." Maybe the most impressive feat was managing to account for all the parts and pieces of "I Can See for Miles," a task which would have driven a lesser artist insane but one that she makes sound effortless. The song that actually competes with the original is " Sunrise" as she imbues the song with a feeling of joy and light equal to the original and her lead vocal is perfect. The aspect of the album that will probably be overlooked is the actual vocals -- the vocals that sing the lyrics, that is. She has a crystal-clear, beautiful voice that really soars and her harmonies are consistently breathtaking. It would have been lovely enough just to hear her sing the Who's melodies and lyrics without all the backing "instruments." The likelihood that you will reach for Petra Haden's version of Sell Out before you will reach for the Who's will vary with each listener's tolerance for novelty. Even the strictest Who purist should hear Haden's version at least once though and anyone who likes to hear artists taking wild chances and succeeding wildly should hold up Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out as a shining example.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo

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