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.
Jekyll & Hyde (2003, Inpop)
Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitar), Greg Bailey (bass)
Petra seemed dead. Louie Weaver left the band and/or was fired in early 2003. There just seemed to be a negative feeling about where Petra was at the time. Revival had mixed reviews at best, this coming after the majority of fans panned Double Take. A revolving door of band members had been going on since the mid-90s, and now all that was left was Schlitt and Bailey.
But then Bob Hartman returned to active duty. Newsboys’ Peter Furler, running Inpop, agreed to produce and even play drums. A mysterious song by an unnamed band appeared on the Inpop web site. It was a rocker, to say to the least, and the unmistakable voice of John Schlitt pierced through my computer speakers. Needless to say, after hearing the song “Jekyll & Hyde” for the first time I was amped for the album, because it promised to be a true rocker.
And it was. Jekyll & Hyde was at the least the hardest rocking album for Petra in a decade.
The album kicks off with a kickin’ title track when heavy guitars and drums. Lyrically, the song is about the dilemma every Christian faces, something the apostle Paul writes about in Romans 7. We do what we don’t want to do and don’t want to do what we want. Two men are fighting a war inside, but we will only be rescued, “Not by defiance, just God reliance.” It’s a great song.
“It’s All About Who You Know” features Hartman’s solid guitar work and lyrically focuses on the fact that you may be tied in to success in the world, but when your life is over it will only matter whether or not you know the Lord Jesus Christ. “Stand” is based upon Ephesians 6:13 and is about maintaining your faith in the midst of a life, and a world, seemingly out of control.”Would’a, Could’a, Should’a” is memorable for it’s lyrics, pointing to a desire not to have to look back on your life with regrets about what you could have done. Consider the lyrics: “I want to live my life not only thinking of the past / The future tells me that my life has not been cast / I want to say “I will, I did” instead of could or should / Gonna believe in the promise ‘It’s all good.'”
“Perfect World” is the second of what I believe are three standout tracks on the album. The lyrics point the listener to the world that will exist when Christ returns and reigns on His throne.
“Test of Time” is about how everything we do will last for eternity, so we want to make the time we have count. “I Will Seek You” is a song of utter reliance on the Lord and resolve to trust in Him: “I will seek You / I will find You / I will follow what I know is true / I will seek You / Like I used to / I will worship You // You are holy, You are a wonder to me / In creation I see Your majesty.”
“Life As We Know It” is about the abundant life we have when we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. “This is life as we know it, forgiven and free!” “‘Til Everything I Do” is the closest thing to a ballad on the album and is about how God works over the heart of a sinful man unless that man submits to Him and lives for Him.
Then there is “Sacred Trust,” the last song on the album and third standout, about the gospel which has been entrusted to believers to uncompromisingly proclaim to the world. The song speaks about how Jesus never tried to gain the approval of men, but went about fulfilling the mission He had been given, and we must do the same.
Overall, there is much to like in this album. I just wish it was longer. It comes in at just over a half-hour, by far the shortest album in Petra history, even with ten tracks. All of the tracks were written by Bob Hartman, which is a good thing, but in the end you are left wanting more. I would have liked to have seen Petra do a real follow-up album to this, but instead the band eventually transitioned into “retirement” with the Farewell tour and live album (although Petra still does somewhat exist, both in groups pairing Schlitt and Hartman and as Classic Petra). Still, Jekyll & Hyde is a solid Christian rock album and, of course, I recommend it.