(08 May 2005) Hot on the heels of her duo release with Bill Frisell, That Dog alumni Petra Haden offers up Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out (Bar-None Records (USA), 2005), a completely acapella remake of the legendary album The Who Sell Out. This album, the idea of the legendary Mike Watt, has been a long time in the making but was finally finished during the fall of 2004 as Petra was recovering from an accident. Bar-None Records wisely snatched the album up and have released it complete with remade versions of the original album's pictures featuring Petra.
Daughter of jazz legend Charlie Haden, Petra's jazz background definitely comes to the forefront on this album. In addition to the many layers of vocals, you will hear Petra singing various guitar and bass lines, as well as the commercials that appeared on the original album. It's sort of a cross between beat box and bebop.
There are only few artists that could pull something like this off and Petra’s subtle, yet strong, voice really makes the album work. Songs like "Armenia City in the Sky" and "I Can See For Miles" are good examples of Petra's unique ability to redefine already great music. The actual songs here are left intact but Petra's addition of various a capella background vocals adds a different kind of depth to them and certainly takes a step towards making them her own.
Petra's work on the commercials is quite interesting as well. The commercial segments will draw laughter at first, but they are left exactly as they appeared originally. Petra performs them line for line and they seem to come off more serious than the songs do at times. This is a part of the album that could easily have been left behind without much notice but their appearance here undoubtedly helps keep the albums original intent intact.
This is an equally amazing and tremendously interesting take on an already amazing album. Thanks to Mike Watt's great idea and the power of 8-track recorders, Petra Haden shines on this album. This is destined to carve Petra a place in music history, just as it did for The Who.
Long time Who and Haden fans will love this and it is sure to garner a lot of interest, which will hopefully result in many many more fans for both.--Mark Fisher