DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Attack Cat: Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out

Monday, July 04, 2005

Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out

Everyone knows Petra Haden.

Okay... everyone knows The Who.


If you do know Petra, it's probably from that dog. or The Rentals. She generally plays violin and does some back up singing. She has an amazing voice.

Well, earlier this year Petra released a recording of The Who's 1967 album "The Who Sell Out."

It's an entirely a cappella version of the whole album, but it's not just her singing the lyrics to the songs, she also vocalizes all of the instrument parts as well. She's done a couple other albums where she's displayed her ability to user her voice as an instrument.

I've always liked The Who, but I've never been giant fan. They're great, I know that, but I don't own their entire catalog. I do, however, really enjoy Petra's album. By extension, it's made me appreciate The Who's album all that much more. That's one of the things that a great cover version can do. It can bring new fans to the original piece of music. Petra's version made me think, "Oh yeah... The Who. Let me dig out those albums." Conversely, a stinky cover can really drive people away.

So, the real icing on the cake for this story is that this past Friday, Petra along with a nine woman choir, including Petra's sister Tanya, performed the entire album live at the Ford Amphitheatre, here in L.A. My friend Amy came with me to see this amazing performance by ten women of a recording done by one woman of an album recorded by four men thirty-seven years ago.

From the time they started singing I had a perma-grin. Petra has always performed with this uninhibited glee. Some might come across as goofy or just plain weird doing the same, but she's such a talented singer and musician that she never seems that way. Whether she's keeping time tapping on her leg, giggling at her own jokes or belting out the chorus to "Tomorrow" from Annie between songs at a that dog. show, her joy at performing always seems to outweigh any silliness she might feel.

Where you or I might sound and feel like an idiot singing out our rendition of a guitar lick from one of the world's most famous bands, Petra and the Sell Outs, as she introduced the rest of the chorus, made it work. Some moments (the occasional drum bit or an air-guitared accompaniment to a vocalized Townsend flourish) elicited laughs from the crowd and though it was funny it was also musical and it all worked.

I don't know if Petra & the Sell Outs are scheduled to perform again, but I don't see how they couldn't. I think they'd kill where ever there are people who like music.

[Because I live in L.A. I'll occasionally run across the odd famous person or two. Friday night was no different. At Petra's show Amy and I spied Fred Armisen reading outside the theatre and Jack Black sitting an aisle away. Later on the same night, we saw Andy Dick at Highland Grounds, where Supafloss was playing.

Just for fun, let's play six degrees of separation: Fred Armisen is on Saturday Night Live with Maya Rudolph who was in The Rentals with Petra Haden. Jack Black is half of Tenacious D which featured Dave Grohl playing drums on the album; Grohl leads his band Foo Fighters; Petra has recorded and played live with Foo Fighters. Last connection, I once saw Supafloss open for Tenacious D.]

Oh yeah... Amy said that she'd kick my ass if I didn't start this blog and as appealing as an ass kicking from Amy may seem, I have wanted to start this thing for some time. What better time than when one is under threat of physical violence.


Blogger Neal Romanek said...

Petra Haden + The Who = So exciting I can't stand it

I must go out and buy this record at once.

Very happy to see your blogging. I will continue to read with interest, because I don't know so much about too many things, but if I read your blog I am likely to learn about them.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous amy raasch said...

Let it be known, one and all: Attak Kat is an action cat. I only had to threaten him with bodily violence once, and that is more than I can say for many a cat, lovely tho' they be. I add that Rob selflessly donated the final slices of his dreamy pizza to my cause. A gentleman and a scholar. Well done!

P.S. Hi, Neal.

1:26 PM  

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