Petra Haden - Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out (Bar/None, 2005)

Attention, un post azimuté peut en cacher un autre. Fille du grand Charlie Haden, avec un frère qui s'est fait remarquer sous le nom de Spain, Petra Haden est quelqu'un de tout a fait recommandable. Alors pourquoi? Non mais franchement, pourquoi? Les Who ne font pas partie de mes fondamentaux, l'album que la miss reprend ici ne fait pas partie de mes classiques, je ne sais donc pas vraiment quoi en penser. Est-ce fait avec respect et affection? Est-ce une démarche iconoclaste avec l'envie d'en découdre? Toujours est-il que Petra Haden y a passé du temps, beaucoup de temps, donc on peut exclure l'hypothèse d'une blague potache. Vous l'aurez compris, c'est un exercice surprenant!

Petra Haden
Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out

CD Bar/None BRN-CD-160 (USA, 2005)

01. Armenia City in the Sky
02. Heinz Baked Beans
03. Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand
04. Odorono
05. Tattoo
06. Our Love Was
07. I Can See for Miles
08. I Can't Reach You
08. Medac
10. Relax
11. Silas Stingy
12. Sunrise
13. Rael
14. Untitled

Note : Written by John Entwistle (2, 9, 11), John Keene (1), Pete Townshend (t3 to 8, 10, 12, 13).
Recorded sporadically in the years 2000-2003.
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. (All Music Guide)


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