While You're Waiting For Classic's Version, Check Out This One!

Petra Haden, the very talented daughter of bassist Charlie Haden, and former member of That Dog has released an a cappella version of The Who Sells Out that is charming, entertaining, ingenious and loads of fun.

Haden's voice covers all bases of the familiar album-including the segueways, instrumentals and studio effects-and does it so effectively that if the original is seared into your synapses your brain might produce an involuntary mix of this and the original.

The singer's vocal gymnastics produce mewing cat-like harmonies, thumping, syncopated bass riffs, “feedback drenched” guitar lines and other effects behind her reverential reading of one of Townshend's masterpieces, and most consistent records.

Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out is a work of such transparent ingenuity, that the first play or perhaps even the fifth will register so smoothly, you'll miss the endless nuances injected into the overdubs that help sell the project so effortlessly. Just pay attention to the “backward loops” on the opener, “Armenia City in the Sky,” which of course, she sings “forward” in real time.

What makes the disc so endlessly listenable is that unlike some other a capella remakes (such as those by The Bobs), there's nothing “goofy” or “novelty-like” here, and no attempt to be “zany.” Instead there's a genuine connection to and a reverence for the original, though apparently Haden hadn't been familiar with it when the project commenced.

The idea for the record came from former Minuteman bassist Mike Watt (whose recent album needs a review on this site), who provided Haden with the original album on one track of an 8 track cassette (must have been vinyl since in his liner notes Watt says he gave her “side one” on one tape and “side two” on another) and a Tascam 488 to play back and record to.

Haden filled in the remaining seven tracks and came up with this gem.

Don't expect miracles sonically of course, but it will sound better than you might expect, and sound is not the point here, though the mix was expertly crafted to provide a seamless listening experience. I defy you to sit down and not listen all the way through every time.