Petra Haden – Sings The Who Sell Out (2005)

FrontCover1Petra Haden (born October 11, 1971) is an American musician and singer. She has been a member of That Dog, Tito & Tarantula, and The Decemberists; has contributed to recordings by Bill Frisell, The Twilight Singers, Beck, Mike Watt, Luscious Jackson, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Weezer, The Rentals, Victoria Williams, Yuka Honda, The Gutter Twins, Sunn O))), and Cornelius. She is the daughter of the jazz bassist Charlie Haden; the triplet sister of bassist Rachel Haden (her bandmate in That Dog) and cellist Tanya Haden (married to singer and actor Jack Black) with whom she has performed as The Haden Triplets; and the sister of bassist-singer Josh Haden, leader of the group Spain.

In New York City, in 1996 she released her first album, Imaginaryland, consisting mostly of original a cappella music. In 2000, Petra was struck by a car while crossing a street in Los Angeles; the resulting injuries forced her out of performance for several months. In 2005 she released the home-recorded album Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out (Bar/None), a complete a cappella rendition of The Who Sell Out. The project was suggested to Haden by longtime friend Mike Watt, who also gave her the eight-channel multi-track cassette recorder she used to make it. Funded in part by a Durfee grant and wanting to perform the work live, Haden created a new arrangement of The Who Sell Out for a ten-woman a cappella choir called Petra Haden & The Sellouts. The premiere live performance of the full work occurred in July 2005 at the Ford Amphitheatre as a PetraHaden3part of the “sound.” concert series.

She has also released a self-titled collaboration with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell.

She contributed to the recording of ØØ Void by drone metal band Sunn O))) and played on the debut and follow up album of Sunn O))) guitarist Greg Anderson’s other doom metal band Goatsnake. The Haden Triplets sang the part of the Fates in Anaïs Mitchell’s 2010 release Hadestown on Righteous Babe Records.

She is also at work on a collection of songs with Yuka Honda,[2] apparently with contributing performances by Sean Lennon.

In 2007, Haden recorded an a cappella cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” for the compilation album Guilt by Association Vol. 1. This arrangement of the song is very similar to that used in the Glee version of the song in 2009.

She performed on the soundtrack to the film An American Crime, starring Catherine Keener and Ellen Page, which premiered on Showtime in May 2008.

In 2009, Toyota commissioned Haden to perform three songs for television commercials for the third-generation Toyota Prius, including an a cappella version of the Bellamy Brothers 1970s song “Let Your Love Flow” and worked as an arranger and vocal coach The Sing Off on NBC, alongside Deke Sharon.

Haden played violin on “Sentimental Tune” by Tegan and Sara, off of their album Sainthood (released October 27, 2009).

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In 2011, Haden formed the group If By Yes with Yuka Honda, the culmination of an eight-year songwriting collaboration. The band released one album, “Salt on Sea Glass”[7] Other band members included Yuko Araki on drums and Hirotaka “Shimmy” Shimizu on guitar, with contributions from David Byrne and Nels Cline.

In 2014 she worked on a collaboration with Jim Bianco in Hooray Matinee. The resulting tracks were released on a number of digital outlets.

In 2015, she provided vocals for the rock mockumentary “Gentle & Soft: The Blue Jean Committee Story”, the 1st season finale of the IFC series Documentary Now! (starring Fred Armisen & Bill Hader). Haden’s voice was used as the falsetto of Blue Jean Committee bassist Clark Honus (played by Hader). Haden even appeared live with Armisen & Hader as “The Blue Jean Committee” on Late Night With Seth Meyers, with Hader lip-synching to Haden’s vocals.

Also in 2015, Haden again collaborated with Bill Frisell, providing vocals on his 2016 album When You Wish Upon A Star.

In 2016, the song “Easy Street” by The Collapsable Hearts Club, which featured Haden and Jim Bianco, played throughout The Walking Dead episode “The Cell”. A few hours after the episode’s broadcast, the song rose to number 92 in the UK Singles Chart.

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Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out is an album by Petra Haden, an entirely a cappella interpretation of the album The Who Sell Out by English rock band The Who. Haden supplies all of the vocals. It was released in 2005 on Bar None Records. The recording was inspired by former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, who gave Haden the 8-track recorder with the original Who album on it.

In the Boston Globe on 13 March 2005, The Who’s guitarist and principal songwriter, Pete Townshend, had this to say about Haden’s version of the album:

I was a little embarrassed to realize I was enjoying my own music so much, for in a way it was like hearing it for the first time. What Petra does with her voice, which is not so easy to do, is challenge the entire rock framework … When she does depart from the original music she does it purely to bring a little piece of herself — and when she appears she is so very welcome. I felt like I’d received something better than a Grammy.

In his book Paddle Your Own Canoe, actor Nick Offerman recommends the album as ideal to listen to while building canoes. (by wikipedia)

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One of the triplet daughters of legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden, Petra grew up in a world of music. At a young age, she developed a remarkable talent to perfectly mimick the sounds of instruments she was hearing around the house from Captain Kagaroo to the Cocteau Twins. She developed complex arrangements in her head and could interpret all sorts of songs. Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out is the latest chapter in the always provocative, often unpredictable yet never less than fascinating musical career of Ms. Haden. The impetus for the project came from her friend, bassist mike watt, who suggested that she attempt to re-imagine this classic Who album as an a capella tour de force (this at least a year before any news of Bjork’s Medulla leaked to the press). He gave her an 8 track cassette tape with the original Who album recorded onto one track and the other seven empty, for her to fill with intricate vocal harmonies reinventing not only all The Who´s singing and instrumental parts  including drums  she also recorded all the mock radio commercials so integral to The Who Sell Out experience. The final result is a technical tour de force that highlights The Who’s own achievement, bringing all the elements of chorale music, vaudevillian schmaltz and Renaissance chamber ensemble playing powerfully to the fore. (Press release)

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No one would have seen this coming, but it’s as natural as loving a great album can be. Petra Haden renders the classic album, The Who Sell Out, in its entirety — fake commercials and all — and she does it a capella. She has a voice and sensibilities to make this work as she performs both the lyrics and components from the Who’s instrumental tracks. It is the latter which is particularly affecting, her choices addressing how many fans of the original album would also identify a song’s key characteristics. Townshend’s guitar parts in particular are sung with virtuosity and unmistakable glee. Far from being a mere stunt, this set works on its own as well as giving one pause, reconsidering the original work in a new light. –David Greenberger

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Personnel:
Petrta Haden (vocals, all instruments)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Armenia City In The Sky (Keen) 3.40
02. Heinz Baked Beans (Entwistle) 1.10
03. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand (Townshend) 2.30
04. Odorono (Townshend) 2.18
05. Tattoo (Townshend) 3.10
06. Our Love Was (Townshend) 3.25
07. I Can See For Miles (Townshend) 4.14
08. I Can’t Reach You (Townshend) 3.30
09. Medac (Entwistle) 0.57
10. Relax (Townshend) 2.41
11. Silas Stingy (Entwistle)
12. Sunrise (Townshend) (Townshend) 3.03
13. Rael (Townshend) 5.30
14. Untitled 0.18

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