Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.
Come and Join Us (1977, Myrrh)
Lineup: Bob Hartman (guitars, vocals), Greg Hough (guitars, vocals), John DeGroff (bass)
I didn’t expect to be surprised while compiling this list, but in a sign I am probably taking this far more seriously than I should, I have listened to a lot of Petra, over and over again, to compile this list and these posts. In so doing I was surprised at how much I’ve really come to love Come and Join Us.
It is said that this album was supposed to be titled “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” but the record company believed it would be too controversial. No matter the name of the album, it’s a great second effort from Petra.
Coming three years after their debut, this one, as the would-be title suggests, bring more rock to the table. Greg X. Volz was not yet an official member of the band, but he lends his voice to a few of the songs, including “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.” Originally recorded by Argent in 1973, Petra changed the words and brought their message of ministry with guitar and drums. It’s a great rendition of the song.
“Ask Him In” is a ballad which poses the question to the listener, having heard the message of Jesus through song, what they are going to do now: “Now that you’ve heard the music / Where do you go from here // You see music only takes you to the place / Where you’re ready to hear.” This is an invitation to receive Christ.
“Sally” is about a girl who has departed following Christ for an old life of sin. “Without Your I Would Surely Die” is about what it sounds like it’s about, how badly we need the Lord and what would happen if we didn’t have Him. The title track is call for the listener to join the collective of those who have been redeemed. There are a lot of plural pronouns, “we” and “us,” not to mention a lot of guitar.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Where Can I Go?,” a song which points to inexhaustable love of God that we cannot outrun. “Darkness is the same as the light to do / Daytime is the same as the light / When You put Your chains of love around my soul
I know it won’t be long before I let You take control” is the bridge which is preceded and followed by some great guitar work. I don’t know if Bob Hartman was influenced by Grand Funk Railroad, but it sure sounds like it, on this song and the next, “Holy Ghost Power,” which speaks to the salvific work of the Holy Spirit.
Volz has a strong presence on “Woman Don’t You Know?,” which is about choosing not to give in to sin that one might with a woman, but instead choosing to follow Christ, a “new way.” There is an absolutely delicious and prolonged instrumental bridge in the song featuring a guitar solo, an extended drum solo, and even some 70s space computer sound effects. Fantastic!
The album closes with a reprise of the opening track, “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.”
Overall, an underappreciated but very entertaining album with a southern rock feel and lyrics that will edify and challenge. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!